PORT COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) — Members of Port Coquitlam’s new equity, diversity, and inclusion roundtable have been announced, days after racist graffiti was found in a park, which the city says underscores the need for the initiative.
Mayor Brad West condemned the graffiti, saying to build a better community, the problem of racism needs to be addressed head-on and Port Coquitlam can’t get there by pretending the issues don’t exist.
“I think the sad reality, and we’re coming to understand this, is that this happens in every community. It happens far more often than we would like to admit. Those of us who are white, maybe don’t see it or hear it, but it definitely does exist,” says Mayor Brad West.
Launched in June at the height of anti-racism demonstrations, the roundtable was expected to only have about 15 people from the community, but given the amount of interest, more than 30 have been chosen.
The idea is that the roundtable will tackle systemic racism and discrimination by developing a process and forum for feedback, discussion, and action
West says he believes a community-driven response is the most effective way of dealing with social issues.
The roundtable has members with different backgrounds because West says he often sees the same names in government, which ends up being people who are already well-known or have high academic credentials.
But he argues they aren’t the only people who have relevant experience.
“So do people who have lived experience, so do people who get up every morning to go to work,” he says. “When we talk about having something that’s going to represent the diversity of our community, that involves people who have working-class jobs — the regular citizens of Port Coquitlam.”
One of the roundtable’s first tasks will be working with the city on an anti-racism and discrimination policy.
Their first meeting is scheduled for September and will be online.
A full list of the roundtable’s members can be found here.
-With files from Jonathan Szekeres