By Jim Watson
This year, the City of Ottawa will develop its first Anti-Racism Strategy, which will include strategic actions, key performance indicators and expected outcomes to address and confront systemic racism in Ottawa’s systems and structures.
To help inform the strategy, the Anti-Racism Secretariat held virtual town halls with residents in January, completing a series of public engagement sessions that were launched last year.
These town halls gave residents and community stakeholders the opportunity to respond to the “What We Heard” report, which summarizes the recommendations and feedback received on how the city can address systemic racism within the six priority areas previously identified by the community: employment equity, governance, housing, economic development, health outcomes and youth development. The secretariat will incorporate the town-hall feedback into the Anti-Racism Strategy before presenting it to Council later this year.
Under the guidance of Councillor Rawlson King, who is City Council’s first Liaison for Anti-Racism and Ethnocultural Relations Initiatives, we are listening and acknowledging all comments provided at these consultations. I want to thank Councillor King for his ongoing leadership and for his firm support towards the communities across our city that need it most.
As the mayor of Ottawa, I remain committed to making our city a better place to live for all residents. Change is necessary in all our public service institutions. If we remain steadfast in our resolve, we can create a more inclusive and responsive community that is welcoming for all residents. Only together will we make meaningful change to build a more equitable community.
I also want to give a shout-out to the amazing BIPOC-owned businesses in our nation’s capital for Black History Month. As we continue to battle through this pandemic, I encourage every resident to visit the @BlackOwnedOttawa Instagram page that features many of our city’s impressive entrepreneurs and community groups. A local favourite is Pili Pili Grilled Chicken located at 205 Dalhousie Street and 2136 St. Joseph Boulevard – I look forward to getting some takeout from them very soon!
Finally, one of the themes for Black History Month 2022 is “Black Health and Wellness.” This is all too fitting – I know the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on us all, but it has disproportionately impacted our BIPOC community. Please take care of your mental and physical wellbeing; a simple walk in the park with a friend to clear your mind can go a long way.
Thanks to the success of our vaccination campaign, the light at the end of the tunnel is truly getting brighter. I appreciate all your ongoing efforts, patience and determination.
For more information about the Anti-Racism Secretariat’s work, please visit: www.engage.ottawa.ca/anti-racism-and-ethnocultural-relations-initiatives
For a list of mental health resources, please visit: www.OttawaPublicHealth.ca/.
Jim Watson is mayor of Ottawa.