Monday 4 December
About forty participants from Ottawa’s aboriginal and racialised communities were at the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organisation (OCISO) community room on Wellington Street West for a forum titled: Equity, Inclusion and Racial Justice. Organised jointly by Toronto-based Colour of Poverty- Colour of Change, Chinese and South East Asian Legal Clinic and OCISO, this event was funded by Ontario 150, in commemoration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.
The objective of this conversation was to bring Indigenous peoples and peoples of colour together to work collaboratively, to both support concrete action on the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The event also aimed to push Canada’s political leaderships to move forward in real and tangible ways, to eliminate the growing racial inequities, disparities and racial injustice across the country. To facilitate this conversation, the partners assembled a panel of speakers drawn from Indigenous communities and peoples of colour, to share their experience and insights on the issues of Equity, Inclusion and Racial Justice. Panel members included: Denise Anne Boissoneau, citizen Anishinabek Nation & Policy Advisor; Carrington Christmas, Youth Advocate, Native Women’s Association of Canada; David Majok, Director, Newcomer Information Centre; Robert Yip, Director, Chinese Canadian National Council and Tim O’Lean, member Sahtu Dene from NWT, Policy Advisor. Well known Ottawa lawyer, social justice advocate and member of UNIFOR Human Rights Committee, Patricia Harewood moderated the discussions. A striking feature of the conversation was the similarities between racial injustice and exclusion suffered by indigenous peoples and those from racialised communities in Canada over the past century.
The event was opened with a traditional prayer by Elder Victoria Boucher, Aboriginal person of Ojibway/Cree heritage, Fort William First Nation, North-Western Ontario, following a formal acknowledgement of Indigenous Territories by OCISO Executive Director, Leslie Emory.
Shalini Konanur, Executive Director, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario provided insight on the Framework of Action, while Michael Kerr, Coordinator, Colour of Poverty-Colour of Change, spoke of next steps, involving compilation of recommendations from this and other forums across the province and sharing them with all members of Ontario provincial parliament.