UARR President’s Report 2014-2015
by Gary Pieters, OCT, M.Ed.
As the Urban Alliance on Race Relations observe and celebrate its 40th year as an organization committed to fostering social harmony across people of all diversities, I am pleased that it continues to be highly influential in the social justice landscape of Toronto and beyond.
During 2014-2015, the UARR continued to make a positive difference in the areas of race relations, social justice, equity, diversity, inclusion and human rights. We appreciate the ongoing support of our funders and donors; collaborating partners; supporters; members and the general public who attended our public events or participated on our social media. Our public forums, presentations, participation in public deputations, attendance at social justice events, video screenings, and awards dinner were meaningful, purposeful, relevant, engaging and effective in the public interest of advancing harmonious relations and social cohesion in the GTA and beyond. We are pleased with the outcomes that were achieved, but we have much more to do – and we look forward to your continued support.
We convened a strategic planning session to look ahead to the organizations’s mandate and to establish some strategic directions to move the organization forward.We looked at program, finances and initiatives.
We have been able to hire an Executive Director on a part-time basis, as well as a project staff on a part time basis.
We continue to look at community grants that support the work done by UARR and we are also exploring applying for related SSHRC grants in collaboration with some post secondary institutions in the Greater Toronto Area.
We recently embarked on a project looking at the experiences of Somali Canada youth reintegration following incarceration. We have successfully concluded the Making Noise at Humber project funded by Status of Women Canada, with the impact being the creation of resources, student advocacy and a toolkit to end violence against women on post secondary campus. We also concluded the Racism 360 project which received funding from the City of Toronto and institutional partnership from Ryerson Diversity Institute. We continue to conduct presentations and provide resource support to organizations and sectors that request our knowledge and expertise on equity, diversity and inclusion.
We hosted several events including: A panel and video screening of the Policing Literacy Initiative (PLI) documentary ‘Crisis of Distrust’; our 39th Anniversary Awards and Dinner; and a post-election forum with racialized candidates from the Toronto Municipal Election. We co-sponsored a Somali-Canadian Policing Forum with Positive Change and the Toronto Police Services with keynote presentations by Somali-American officers from Minneapolis. We wrote OpEd pieces and provided subject-matter expertise to various media outlets that touched on issues of compelling public importance including Carding, World Pride, Bigotry in The Municipal Election Campaign, International Human Rights Day, and The Militarization of Policing. We wrote letters of support to the City of Toronto on the Honorary Naming of University Ave as Nelson Mandela Blvd; and to call for the creation of an Equity Advisory Committee – both of which received a favourable response and approval by the Toronto City Council. We are a founding partner in the Nelson Mandela Freedom Walk to be held on June 20th, 2015 to celebrate, honour and remember the 25th Anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s visit to Toronto
We presented in person or written deputations at the Toronto Police Servicers board on carding, racial profiling and we attended the press conference and offered public comment on the release of Justice Frank Iacobucci’s report on Police Encounters with People in Crisis. We presented deputations to the Toronto District School Board that touch on issues pertaining to the Confucius Institute as well as the recent Margaret Wilson Report and directives. We attended the Good Jobs for All monthly meetings as well as the Good Jobs Summit in the Fall 2014. We attended the EI panels. We also participate in the Toronto Community Benefits Network. We wrote letters of concern pertaining to a racially motivated incident at Sutton District High School following the beating and racial name calling of a Black student. We attended meetings of the Joint OIPRD/SIU Director’s Resource Committee on civilian oversight leadership of policing in Ontario.
We continue to either participate, attend, sponsor or collaborate with institutions and organizations with a social justice lens in events that address all categories of the Human Rights Code and their intersections. These include the Aboriginal and Workers of Colour Conference; the Bromley Armstrong Awards Dinner; the CANtyd Gala, the Harmony Movement Awards event; the Social Planning Toronto Frances Lankin Community Services Awards Ceremony; Labour and Community Services Annual General Meeting; and the Scadding Court Gala. We attended several conferences including ‘What Makes a Man’ hosted by the White Ribbon Campaign; and we participate in various events that championed Gender-Based Violence Prevention.
Social Media Presence
The UARR website was viewed over 25,000 times in 2014-2015. Thanks to everyone who supported our social media and digital presence by visiting our website, following us on Twitter and joining our Facebook group for up to date information on compelling issues of the day pertaining to equity, diversity, inclusion, human rights, social justice, police accountability and gender-based violence prevention in Canada and beyond. We encourage everyone to stay connected for an even more exciting social media presence that celebrate our past and look ahead to our future in championing harmonious relations and social cohesion across the full diversity of Toronto and its intersections.
Thanks to all Board Members for their commitment and service to the UARR. We also thank outgoing directors Margaret Hageman, Chris Rahim, Monica Varga who have submitted resignations and Gary Pieters, who will not seek re-election following the expiration of his term as a director.
Looking ahead, we are in the planning stages of exciting public education and celebration events, as a fitting observance of our 40th Anniversary milestone! Please be sure to attend, participate and celebrate with us!
Urban Update: March 2015 Newsletter