ALBERTA – Alberta’s first anti-racism advisory council is set to focus on strengthening the human rights commission, improving the recognition of immigrants, and ensuring school curriculum reflects the province’s diversity, CBC reported.
“If you can’t perform in your role because you’re targeted or marginalized, or you’re experiencing systemic racism from the day of your birth, how is it that you have the mental strength and capacity to contribute to the Alberta that we want to see?” said Heather Campbell, the committee co-chair.
The 24 members of the inaugural council met in Edmonton for the first time on Monday, eight months after the provincial government put out the call for applicants from all corners of Alberta.
The members, picked from 300 applicants, represent Indigenous, African, Muslim, South Asian and Jewish communities.
Campbell promised the council would put together “tangible actions and clear strategies to combat, hopefully, eradicate, but certainly address, racism in Alberta.”
The council will be responsible to “advise the government as it develops strategies to end racism and discrimination in the province,” a government news release said
Spearheading the government initiative, Education Minister David Eggen said strengthening the human rights commission is important “so people know there are teeth to the laws that protect themselves and their families.”
“We know this is a huge issue that affects the prosperity of new Canadians and affects the prosperity of our overall economy, too,” he said.
More than one-third of Albertans were born outside of Canada, and 870,000 don’t speak English or French as their first language. About 6.5 percent of the population is Indigenous.
The anti-racism advisory council is one of the major projects to come out of a series of high-profile racist incidents, including the shooting of six men at a Quebec City mosque in January 2017.
Statistics Canada reported a 151% spike in police-reported anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2017 following the Quebec mosque attack and the RCMP says far-right extremists have become emboldened in Canada.
Muslims make up 3.2 percent of Canada’s population making Islam the second largest religion in the country after Christianity.