Throughout the last year, the City of Chestermere has been working to ensure diversity and inclusion are paramount within the community.
In 2019, the organization went through a re-design and had an office of Diversity and Inclusion dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion.
“I’m happy to say a year and a half later, we’ve done leaps and bounds in the work of diversity and inclusion,” said Diversity and Inclusion Strategist, Joanne Kinya Baker.
In 2017, the City of Chestermere made a commitment to work towards the Truth and Reconciliation’s Commissions’ recommendation’s on Indigenous Reconciliation within the municipality and within the staff.
“Since then, I’m happy to report that we have our finalized Treaty 7 land acknowledgment, and we were blessed by an elder in the council chambers as we raised the Treaty 7 flag,” Kinya Baker said.
City staff have completed training on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations and will continue to do more training.
“We’re also engaged in children’s Indigenous programming by engaging with a community elder with song and stories for the children,” Kinya Baker said.
“We continue to celebrate Indigenous Peoples month, by having a proclamation in the community and other activities,” she added. “We also have community education on Indigenous awareness, showing the true history of what happened in residential schools, and as the staff, we continue to engage in learning our part in Canada’s true history of Indigenous Peoples.”
In 2019, the City of Chestermere joined the Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities (CIM).
“We officially joined CIM as one of 80 municipalities in the country, all big wins for us,” Kinya Baker said.
Through the Alberta Human Rights Commission’s funding for multicultural education, the City of Chestermere created the Dialogues 4 Diversity project, where community members came together to learn how to strengthen the community’s inclusionary efforts.
Workshops such as unconscious bias and microaggressions, the effects of settler colonization, and intersectional diversity with the queer community were possible through the Dialogues 4 Diversity project.
For the first time, the City of Chestermere celebrated Black History Month and over 70 people attended the celebration.
For the second year, the city celebrated Chestermere Pride and had the crosswalks painted.
However, this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city took a different route and working with the Chestermere Pride society was able to offer online activities.
“We’ve done so much in the community so far. We’re still very proud that we have the gender-neutral public washrooms as one of the very first things we implemented when we started this work,” Kinya Baker said.
“We’ve participated in International Women’s Day at City Hall, Orange Shirt Day, and we had a guest speaker come in during Black History Month to share what the Canadian story of black history was,” she said.
Throughout the last year, the City of Chestermere also undertook the Women in Politics project, in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Chestermere and Rocky View Immigrant Services.
“We were one of 20 municipalities across Canada and one of two in Alberta to receive a grant to engage women in what barriers they had to support in municipal politics,” Kinya Baker said.
In October the Welcoming and Inclusive Communities Committee was launched.
“Our committee is looking at a different approach to how we work in the community, whereas other welcoming and inclusive communities in smaller municipalities have a focus on newcomers, we have decided to take an intersectional approach in the community,” Kinya Baker said.
“There are various ways that we show up, our education, our ethnicity, age, gender, family, income, and religion. This approach of intersectionality will give us the most appropriate response to community issues,” she said.
Adding, “We’re hoping Chestermere will become a welcoming community that welcomes everyone. We’re looking to do the groundwork to create a robust City of Chestermere.”
Going forward, Kinya Baker anticipates the city will continue to create training plans for staff at all levels, and council members, while continuing to provide online resources and materials on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
“Creating a welcoming and inclusive community plan with the committee, this plan will be driven by the needs that are currently present in the community,” Kinya Baker said.