LONDON – In an Ontario city where more than one-fifth of the population is comprised of immigrants, five churches and a mosque are sending a targeted message that they embrace everyone in the community regardless of faith or ethnicity, London Free Press reported on December 10.
“The purpose of the campaign is to change the conversation among Londoners about racism and discrimination and open their eyes to even small acts of hidden discrimination and then start to create an atmosphere that encourages co-existence,” said Jill Tansley, co-chair of the immigration partnership in London, Ontario.
The campaign of the six local faith groups displays “All are welcome here” on their bulletin boards to combat discrimination and racism.
It’s part of an initiative of the London and Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership, a collaborative community initiative co-chaired by the City of London.
Timed to coincide with the UN’s Human Rights Day, the campaign’s billboards will stay up until December 14. The campaign began in 2017 with the hashtag #allarewelcomehere, also included lawn signs, stickers, decals, followed by a website entitled 1,000 acts of welcome.
“Events include a half day focused on the need for the elimination of racial discrimination. It was all about discrimination — what does discrimination look like in our community and to let the public know it does exist,” Tansley explained.
Tansley added that the immigration partnership is planning to hold similar events in March focused on finding ways to combat discrimination.
On his behalf, Rifat Hussain, chair of the London’s diversity, inclusiveness and anti-oppression committee, said: “I think the campaign is a reminder of what London isn’t.”
“With the reported hate crimes going up in the city this provides that constant reminder that yes we do have some faults but at the end of the day it’s our home and we will do everything we can to make sure everyone feels welcome regardless of where they are from, what they practice, how they practice or how they live. All are welcome here in London.”