Creating Community and Belonging

I believe in the democratic process and have voted in every election I have been eligible for since I was 18. Free and fair leadership is one of the reasons Canadian soldiers fought and died in wars across the globe and why we honour them on Remembrance Day each year. I have never belonged to a political party and I have supported candidates in almost every major Canadian political party because I want good people elected to represent me. I want leaders that are dedicated to the same

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values as those that I believe in and who make decisions in the best interest of the whole community. Ultimately, I believe that including more diverse perspectives in decision making processes will mean better results for everyone.

For me, all of these fundamental beliefs were rattled this week. After the initial shock of the election results wore off and I was able to talk with some of my closest friends, I realized that I what I am actually worried about is how this impacts my vision for our city. I want to live and contribute to a city that is supportive of the success of every resident and that treats everyone fairly and with respect. I am worried that the way that the US election played out and the hateful rhetoric that was shared during the campaign against minority groups has changed our society. I believe that it somehow normalized hate and is now allowing people to speak out against other people because of their culture, religion, sexuality, and even gender. The results of the election have weighed heavily on my usually infallible positive attitude and optimism for the world we live in.

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The only way I can overcome my worry and fear about the negative atmosphere that President-Elect Trump has created is by recommitting to the values of diversity and inclusiveness that I think are important. I can impact the world around me as I continue to speak out against hate and demonstrate just leadership. In my campaign to be your Ward 5 City Councillor, I will respect the diversity of our city and the voices and experiences of its residents. I know that discrimination still exists in our city and I will work to combat that. I will listen intently to your concerns and understand the values that are important to you. I will make sure that everyone in our city feels respected, safe, and welcome.

I recently wrote about the work of the Edmonton Local Immigration Partnership and End Poverty Edmonton on my blog — two examples of what Edmonton is doing to make everyone feel welcome in our city. Mayor Iveson called on all of us to call out racism and #MakeItAwkward after a video of someone using a racist slur was posted online in September. Because of some recent racist acts in our city, at last week’s City Council meeting Ward 12 Councillor Banga requested more information from the City’s administration on the work being done to fight racism in Edmonton. His motion read:

“That Administration prepare and bring forward to a City Council meeting, a framework to guide, facilitate and coordinate efforts to support inclusion and eliminate racism in Edmonton. The framework should incorporate:

  1. In what ways the City of Edmonton currently supports, and in the future could support, grassroots and citizen-led anti-racism initiatives;
  2. The actions and results of the work being done within the City, its Boards and Commissions, to support broader inclusion and community participation; and
  3. Recommendations for how the City, and its Boards and Commissions, should work to eliminate systemic racism and discrimination through its policies and strategy implementation; and
  4. Information on how the City currently supports staff who experience discrimination and recommendations to enhance safe disclosure.

This framework should be built on a broad and comprehensive consultation with all relevant stakeholders to define the City’s and community’s roles for this work going forward.”

I support this step forward by our current City Council and look forward reading the report from the City’s Administration. 14717256_1653968014893409_369822756388970782_nAs a city, we can all do our part to make everyone feel safe and welcome in our neighbourhoods, workplaces, schools, and public places. I know there are good people out there helping to educate others about racism and discrimination and I will continue to do my part. It is because of my personal commitment, others have been inspired to joined my campaign in support. If the new leader of Canada’s biggest ally and trading partner chooses to govern himself differently, together we can be the shining example of how to be better.

I am curious to know how others are feeling about the US election campaign. Did it affect you in the same way? What are you going to do about your feelings about the outcome? Tweet me, send me an email, or share your thoughts below in the comments section. I want to learn more about how Ward 5 residents are feeling and what we can do together.

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