Delta to launch anti-racism taskforce

The City of Delta will soon be launching a mayor’s taskforce on anti-racism, inclusion and diversity.

Mayor George Harvie made the announcement during Delta’s 12th virtual townhall on Thursday which focused on diversity issues in Delta.

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Harvie was joined by Samantha Pillay, Delta’s human resources director) and Warren Dean Flandez, co-founder of the Tsawwassen Harmony Initiative Society for the discussion.

Harvie said at the end of September he will be presenting a report to council on what Delta has done regarding anti-racism policies as well as asking council to fund a consultant to come in a look at the cities policies and what they can more of to move the discussion further.

“I will be also announcing a mayor’s taskforce on anti-racism, inclusion and diversity,” said Harvie. “The taskforce will have participation of Samantha, senior staff, our fire Chief and police Chief, but more importantly we will be going out and asking for community involvement for people to volunteer and work on that committee. The first task of that committee will be to look at the consultant’s report and make recommendations to council.

“It’s time Delta has its own committee. We need to be aligned with what the city wants to see. It’s their council, it’s their staff.”

Harvie said racism is an issue in Delta and everyone needs to be open to learn.

Flandez said in any time of conversation about racism, everyone needs to come to the table and acknowledge that it does exist.

“Acknowledgement is key before we can even work towards having any type of accountability or to act,” he said. “Visible minorities or anyone who is discriminated against shouldn’t have to come to the table to fight to convince someone that it exists. It should just be a known fact that we as humans can recognize and then it is only then that we can push forward to create some real positive change.

Pillay spoke about the importance of diversity within the City of Delta’s organization.

“I think it is of significant importance to an organization and a significant importance to the City of Delta,” she said. “More important is how we treat our employees and our policies and practices that follow along with that. The City of Delta recognizes the importance of differences and the strength that brings to an organization. Our city manager, mayor and council all are very supportive that we embrace differences and we continue to have important conversations and dialogue.”

Pillay said conversations and dialogue help to bring about change.

“I immigrated to Canada…I moved here from South Africa. South Africa is a country that is synonymous with racism,” said Pillay. “Where I come from and what I brought with me from growing up in a country like South Africa is that I understand the importance of those issues – the issues of being inclusive and the importance of diversity, so as a leader in HR and being a part of the senior leadership team, that brings those values to the organization, but it is also very aligned with the organization.”

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