Region joins inclusive municipalities coalition
20 September 2019 (Niagara) – Niagara Region has become part of a growing club of inclusivity.
Last night, regional councillors voted unanimously to endorse a staff recommendation and become a member of the Coalition for Inclusive Municipalities, formerly the Canadian Coalition Against Racism and Discrimination. The Region joins 77 other Canadian communities in the alliance, 20 of them in Ontario.
Brian Scriver, chair of OUTniagara, presented on behalf of the network that unites the sexual- and gender diverse community. Also speaking in favour of the coalition were the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, Gender Equity Task Force Niagara, Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association, Folk Arts Council in St. Catharines, and a St. Catharines resident.
The motion was brought forward by St. Catharines Councillor Laura Ip of St. Catharines, who also read a letter of support from Gillian’s Place.
“OUTniagara is proud to have been part of the process that has led to joining the coalition,” Scriver said. “Joining the Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities is a powerful, motivational and aspirational symbol of good faith, just as are rainbow crosswalks, the newly established Diversity and Inclusion and Anti-Racism Committees by the City of St. Catharines, and the raising of rainbow flags in Niagara.”
Joining the coalition is also a concrete action toward building up a community that accepts all of its citizens, so they can feel welcome and safe in their own community and want to stay, he added.
Scriver noted that OUTniagara’s values and mission align with the goals of the Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities. The opening statement of the coalition says “This network brings together municipalities that want to improve their policies against racism, discrimination, exclusion and intolerance. Its strength lies in the shared experiences of its members. Together, the municipalities undertake initiatives to eliminate all forms of discrimination with a view to building open and inclusive societies.”
OUTniagara’s goals are the same, said Scriver, “except our focus is on Niagara’s often-marginalized sexual- and gender-diverse community. We believe that diversity is key to the health of a community, and must be nurtured and protected from racism, discrimination, exclusion and intolerance.”
He added that a region that respects diversity, and backs it up with resources, will encourage young people and seniors to stay and to help build the communities in which we live.
The Region’s next step is to sign a Declaration of Support. Dedicated resources required for the action plan was referred for consideration as part of the 2020 budget process. As well, the Region agreed to circulate the results of the vote to the Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities, local area municipalities, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.