Transcript - Anti-Racism Directorate Sudbury public meeting
The Anti-Racism Directorate held its second public community meeting on October 15, 2016 in Sudbury.
Read the transcript below to learn more about what we heard during our first meeting.
The following is a transcript created with real-time captioning software. It is not verbatim and may contain errors. This transcript may not be copied or disseminated to anyone else unless you obtain written permission from the Anti-Racism Directorate. This transcript may not be used in a court of law. This transcript has been lightly edited to protect the privacy of those who attended the meeting.
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Ginelle: Good Afternoon, everyone. We just want to thank you for coming and let you know that we're going to get started shortly. Okay? So there are some refreshments just outside the door. You can help yourself. If not, just bear with us and we'll get started shortly. It’s located on the north shores in Northern Ontario. Today Perry works at the Chickamauga key health centre in Sudbury as the Director of traditional programming. He has also worked for his people in the areas of Social Services, education, and culture.
Elder Perry: My Anishinaabe name means storyteller. I'm from the Crane clan from Nipassing First Nation, and I'm what’s called Usquabaes, which is a helper, traditional helper. I currently work at the health centre here in Sudbury. I was asked today to come and help with the opening, so I'd like to share, first I'd like to share a song and then a teaching from that song.
That song is a song that says I see the Eagle, and it’s an old song, a song that I learned a long time ago, but there was a story that comes with that song. And I also had the honor of learning about early on my path. And the song is about when the eagle sat with the creator a long time ago. And the Eagle was a good friend of our people, loved us. And he sat with the Creator looking down at creation, looking down at all those children of creation, but saw that they were sick. They were struggling. And that sickness that they suffered from was all self inflicted. There was gossiping and different types of violence and hurtfulness that was happening amongst the people. The creator looking down, saw this and said to the Eagle, things are so bad that I may have to cleanse the earth and start over again. The Eagle, loving us as it did, pleaded with the Creator not to do this. The Creator thought about it and said, tell you what I'm going to do. If you can go out and you can find one person making that special fire, that sacred fire and offering tobacco and giving thanks for all the beauty around us, then I won't. The Eagle thought about it and said, I can do that. I accept that. The Creator said, but you have four days. The Eagle thought about it again and said, I will do this. So that first morning just before the light came, that first Bedobin, that first light that comes over the eastern horizon, the Eagle sat in the darkness waiting with great anticipation and excitement. As the light came off, he was flying about creation, going to villages and places he knew, families and clans that he was familiar with, but at the end of that day, all he found was darkness and pain and suffering, all of that self inflicted illness that we suffered from.
So as he returned to the Creator, the Creator asked him, have you found anyone? No, I have not. Well, you have three more days. The Eagle the next morning sat in that darkness again, still having that confidence that he would find someone, waiting for that first light to come. And as it came, he took off again. This time he went to places he hadn't been to for some time, far away villages and communities. But again, on that second day, all he found was that same pain and suffering. He returned again. Creator asked him one more time, have you found anyone? He shook his head. Well, you have two more days. So that third day he went out. This time he sat in the darkness, but doubt began to fill his heart. Fear began to grow. But he knew he had to do this, so he took off as that light came. This time he went to places he had heard about: Villages, communities, gathering places. But all he found was that same pain and suffering. Again, he returned. The Creator saw it in his face and didn't ask him that third day. He knew he had one more. So on that final morning, the Eagle sat in that darkness. Now doubt began to overwhelm him. Fear began to take hold of his heart, but he knew he had to fulfill this task. So as that Bedobin came in , that light came across, he took off. This time he went to the edges of Turtle Island, those great shores and bays, all of those students that were on the edges of Turtle Island. Again, all he found was that same suffering. Towards the end of that day, he began to fly back towards the Creator. Studying creation, looking around, knowing that the next day he would probably not see any of this again. And as he looked around, he saw this small ribbon of smoke coming through a clump of trees. Out of curiosity, he flew over. He circled it once. He saw there was a fire down below. Circled it again. He saw there was a grandfather and a grandmother standing on one side of that fire. Circled it again. This time he saw there were two children on the other side, along with those grandparents. He circled it a fourth time and he saw those grandparents with tobacco in their hand, making that offering to the fire, showing those little ones how to feed that fire in a good way. And so his heart filled with joy and he raced back to the Creator to tell him what he had found. The Creator smiled and said, I will do what I promised. I will allow them that chance to start over again for that healing to happen.
And so today when we sit in the morning, when it’s still dark, you will hear the night creatures singing their night songs, the insects and the birds and all those night creatures. But as that light begins to come, there will be a silence, and if you're up at that time, you know what I'm talking about. There will be a quietness. Creation becomes quiet. And as that light comes, you'll hear the day creatures begin to sing their day songs of welcome that go new day, that new life. And they say that is when all of creation turns to the east to give honor, homage to that Eagle who stood before us, who gave us, helped give us that chance to live again. I share this story with you, because when I look at racism, I look at it as a fire, and there are different fires that exist in creation all around us and within us. We have the grandfather sun, the grandmother moon that has the fires that warm us and give us life during the day and at night. We have those stars, those camp fires that are all throughout creation that we see at night. We have the fires that come from the thunderbirds, the fire of life that exists in every living thing and every rock and every animal and every plant. We have the fire of life within us and that also exists those other fires, the emotions we have, those feelings we have of anger, happiness, and sadness. One of those fires is a fire of fear, and from that fire of fear, sometimes that fire of hatred races and begins to grow. And when you ask yourself, well, which fire within you is the fire you want to grow? It’s the one you feed. And so it’s important to acknowledge those fires within all of us. We all have those fires. The question is which one are we feeding? So this was a teaching that was passed on to me about ourselves and about that teaching of the fire. So I'd like to pass that on to you. Migwetch.
>> Ginelle: Thank you very much. So everyone, I'd like to introduce you to the local MPP, Glenn Devoe. If he would come up?
>>MPP Glenn Devoe: Well, Good Afternoon, everyone, and thank you for coming out this afternoon. I wasn't expecting to speak. I was expecting to be here and just to listen. Perry, thank you for sharing that story. That was a very powerful story, and I also know the story with the two wolves about the one that you feed as well. I think this is a very important subject that we're going to discuss, and for me, I think one of the other teachings that I've been able to get from my First Nations friend is listening. Today I want to be here to listen. With that, I will actually hand the floor back over to you with that. Thank you very much, and thank you for coming, everyone.
>> Ginelle: And now it’s my pleasure to introduce Minister Coteau to say a few words.
>> Minister Coteau: Well, thank you very much. I wanted to acknowledge the traditional territory that we're on today and just recognize the long history of the Indigenous community, not only here in Sudbury, but right across Ontario and Canada as a whole. And thank Perry for that opening song and those words. You know, it’s interesting. You talked about feeding fires and, you know, I was reflecting when you were speaking and we have lots of fires inside of us and I agree 100%. It’s what we actually try to cultivate which makes a difference in who we become. Right? It’s easy to feed fire of fear and anger and hate and it’s sometimes really difficult to feed those fires of gratitude and love, because the world is a very complicated place. And I just want to say thank you for those words, because I was reflecting even, you know, within myself as you were speaking.
Glenn, thank you for having us here in Sudbury today. I know that this is the fifth conversation we've had across the province. We're going to be in ten communities across Ontario to talk about systemic racism and to talk about how the Anti Racism Directorate is going to look at ways of fighting systemic racism here in the Province of Ontario.
And it’s been a challenging conversation, because we've gone to different communities and there’s a lot of anger out there. There’s a lot of pain that people feel. A lot of despair, because we go into communities where people have been fighting racism for decades and here we are and we're having a conversation. Many people said, just get on with it. Get on with it the work. But we felt it was necessary to go out and to consult, to talk to people, because what we're actually building here is something that is going to, I think, be an effective tool in assessing the different types of systemic racism that exists and collecting information for make good policy decisions and to work with communities to help build a better Ontario.
There’s no question in my mind that Ontario is a place that has provided a lot of opportunity for, you know, many people, but there’s no question in my mind that there’s a lot of barriers that exist here in the province that holds people back. We just need to look for ways to remove as many barriers as possible. So everyone in this province has an opportunity to be successful.
I had the opportunity to go around and introduce myself to probably 95% of the people in the room today, and you know, there are folks from the public service, from the City. We have people from different communities around Sudbury and I am from Sudbury. And I even met one gentleman who said he just wants to figure out how he can be an ally to help fight racism, which I thought was a great thing to have people come here to look for ways to join and look for ways to remove systemic racism from Ontario.
And I'm realistic. People have asked me, well, do you really think you're going to be able to eliminate racism? And I say, I don't think we're going to be able to eliminate racism, but I think we can make effective decisions to shed a bit more light and transparency on the issues that are at hand and look for ways to make improvements. You know, I heard this quote years ago, and I was reminded of it recently. One of the consultations noted that if you don't have data, there is no problem. If you have no problem, there’s no solution. And you know, I got to witness that firsthand in the Toronto School Board when I was a trustee there. Myself and another trustee moved a motion to start collecting race based data at the Toronto District School Board and it was about the time that the information started to reveal itself that 40% of black students in Toronto were not graduating from high school. And it was the first time that the school board admitted that it was an issue. It had a problem. And it was based on numbers. And you know, for me, it allowed us to change a lot within the school board. So we acknowledged that there was a problem, then we started to look for ways to change the way the system was when it came to, you know, allocating resources, to helping our most needy students. And you know, some of our schools that traditionally were on a learning opportunity next, so these were schools that were ranked based on most need. Once the data came out and it was reconfigured based on need, it changed the entire system on how those schools with the most need were ranked. So I've seen a change and I've seen improvements made based on that type of information, so I know that the Anti Racism Directorate will have the opportunity to look for ways to collect data, will have the opportunity to run awareness campaigns, will work with groups right across the province to build a communication line when it comes to systemic racism. There’s tools that, you know, we can develop so organizations can reflect and see if they actually have elements of systemic racism that exist within their organizations that they may not particularly be aware of, because racism has moved in many ways from the individual to institutions, and they're institutionalized within these organizations because of historical decisions.
So I'm excited to be here. We're a smaller crowd than usual today, but I think it gives us a great opportunity to actually weigh in on our opinions, talk about issues, share your experiences. I encourage you if you see something that we present that I just, you know, disagree with, let us know why. If you think that we're missing things, please weigh in on the approach. Share your experiences or experiences that you've heard about from other community members. And we do have a series of questions that we'll put forward. In no way are these questions there as the position so, you know, people can just focus on those questions. They're just there to stimulate conversation. Feel free to talk about anything to do with systemic racism. They're there just to kind of help facilitate, guide a conversation and generate some thought. But please feel free to talk about anything to do with systemic racism and share your experiences. A smaller group, that means we have more time to listen to each other. Thank you again for being here. On behalf of the Premier I'd like to say thank you for participating in this process, and at this point, I'm going to invite Sam Erry to come up, and he’s the Assistant Deputy Minister for the Anti Racism Directorate. He’s assembled a great team of individuals that are working to look at ways to fight systemic racism and really better understand it and put in place some solutions going forward, and he'll also just basically break down a conversation we've been having for the last few months with many organizations across the province, and he'll share the approach we want to take and then we'll go into a discussion and comment session. So please welcome Sam Erry.
Sam: Thank you, Minister. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for making time. I know we all have groceries to buy and kids to take to hockey and other things. I'm glad you're here. It demonstrates your continued advocacy for social justice, so thank you. So I'm going to give you, through a series of slides, a flavor for where we're headed as an organization. As the Minister mentioned, these are early days, so much of the work we're going to do is foundational. The key point there, there’s lots of room for input, so in hosting these sessions, and we are getting good input, we'll build the organization with you as we go along.
I think most of you are aware, when you look at the literature and reality and experience in communities across the planet, frankly, there are essentially these four types of racism that one finds in society. And the one that gets the most attention and the one that, frankly, the most conversation around is the individual racism. And that is what people feel. That’s their lived experience. But I put this up so that you understand, you know that our focus is going to be on systemic and institutional racism, because the logic is that if you solve the problem upstream, you solve it all the way down. So we will be very much interested about looking at what are the systemic barriers created; but years of, you know, unconscious and conscious bias that have now, you know, essentially been piled up and a challenge to all citizens engaging in a holistic way in society.
As the Minister mentioned, government and government institutions play a very critical role. The fact of the matter is if we're going to solve racism in all of society, we need all parts of society to contribute to this conversation. Anti racism should be everybody’s business. Anti racism is not exclusively the duty of the Anti Racism Directorate. In fact, we will have failed if that is the case five, ten, eight years from now. So in all the conversations that I'm having with people, I'm very deliberate about that point to say that we all need to be anti racists. And we remember the Directorate has a critical role in helping to spur that conversation and providing the tools and resources to it do that. But at the end of the day, institutions and organizations that have mandates to serve all of their citizens, including those citizens in their program and their services. So the business community has a very, very critical role to play.
For those of you that have done the homework on this issue, at the root of much disparity and inequality, and I know equity, is economics. And so it’s very important that the business community is engaged in this conversation in a material way. Communities have a very important role to play. Right? Society, parents, all of us have a contribution to make in this conversation. And then and only then can we tackle systemic racism. That is the definition that we are using. If you check the literature and speak to the experts, that is a widely accepted definition of systemic racism. At the end of the day, we will act as a catalyst, provide the framework, analytics, and data, but we want to make sure that everybody that’s involved, you know, in the province is engaged in a very holistic way and substantive way in this conversation.
The focus is on systemic racism. We are not starting from scratch. That would be a disservice to all the work that’s gone on already for years in looking at this issue. So these are just a small sampling of the reports where a lot of homework and research and expertise were provided to it; to talk about what the issues are. So you know, going way back to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal people, the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Criminal Justice System, Stephen Lewis' Report in 1992, the Roots of Violence, and more recently, the Truth and Reconciliation Report. And of course more recently in Sudbury, the vital signs report that the Sudbury community foundation, you know, put out and talked about the fact that although things are improving, there’s still a gap and disparity and we need to deal with that and be disciplined about where we go. Our work is contextualized based upon the recommendations and findings of these reports. So we are not starting from scratch. I think as the Minister mentioned in one of our sessions, they said you're out here. You're talking to us. We have all these reports so why are you wasting time? The flip side is people have said we want a chance to talk to our officials directly. We're doing these sessions. We're not going to have hundreds of them. We're doing these sessions to get input, but the frame of reference is there for us to continue or work. And all of those reports have indicated that you must focus on systemic issues and solve the problem from that perspective.
Our mandate. I should apologize here. Our mandate is not to decrease systemic racism, but to eliminate systemic racism. That’s our stretch target and goal. Increasing awareness and understanding of systemic racism, when you talk to most people about systemic racism, you will likely get a blank look, because they bring it back to the individual racism or they'll say it’s systematic, instead of systemic. So there’s public education that’s necessary and required here as far as what is systemic racism. Promoting fair practices and policies that lead to racial equity, that is the goal at the end of the day. Right? It is racial equity. That is where we want to be as a society and so we'll be targeting that. And then promote and go collaborating and working with various partners. You know, this is a journey we all need to be on together, so the Human Rights Commission, for example, has got a lot of expertise around public education and awareness, so we'll be partnering with them on some of the initiatives we're undertaking.
There are some very, very committed anti racism organizations across the province. We'll be working with them as we develop our products and our various things that we want to push out into the province. So this is going to be a combined effort, and part of our values are going to be to collaborate with those organizations to get input so that when they do that stuff out, it’s going to make sense. It’s going to be meaningful. It’s going to resonate with various communities. And I'll give you some examples a little bit later.
So the Directorate’s focus, these are sort of broad stroke parameters that we've defined here. First and foremost is policy research and evaluation, because we're going to solve the problem upstream, we need to take an evidence based approach to the conversation we're having. The Minister alluded to race based data. The Toronto District School Board and Toronto Children’s Aid Society are the only two institutions actually collecting disaggregated race based data. So no, we don't have a plethora of data out there. So one of the first things we're going to do is to create a data collection framework, a province wide data collection framework and disaggregated race based data and we'll offer that up to government and government institutions so that people start to focus on what they need to collect and how they need to collect it, because what’s really important here is that when you look at progressive jurisdictions that have solved this problem, you know, you have to have the analytics from all the sectors so you can get the full picture of where the challenge is.
I'll give you a good example. We know that there’s a disproportionate representation of Black and Indigenous youth in the criminal justice system and the child welfare system. There’s no point looking at that problem at the moment at which those children show up at the doors of Children’s Aid Societies. You have to back that up, and the way you back it up is through good analytics and good data. You have a sense of where actually did the problem occur? And then you focus there and figure out how to fix it. So you fix it upstream, you solve it all the way down. So it’s very important that we have all sectors involved and engaged in this conversation. So we're going to offer up just at the bottom there, got to find my pointer, just the second bullet there, race based data collection framework.
The other thing we are a going to do is develop a province wide Anti Racism Strategy, and that will have, and this is not an exhaustive list, but that will have an anti-Black focus. That will have an Indigenous focus. That will have a focus on Islamophobia. And whatever else that we need to pull under that umbrella. So we'll have a very disciplined approach in terms of how we're dealing with racialized and Indigenous communities. So those are just two examples of what we're going to be doing in the policy and reference side. And of course, I should point out that, you know, in the public service itself, you know, we need to make sure, and it’s very, very important that policy practitioners and people who design programs and services are also well trained and educated when it comes to anti racism. Anti racism competencies are not the traditional competencies within public services. And so I don't know if you saw the ads, but we are heavily recruiting from the community as we're building this organization. We have great leadership competencies. We have policy competencies. We have all kind of competencies. We don't have hard core anti racism competencies, so that was part of our HR strategy, to bring in people who are qualified and credentialized and well experienced in this area, because you need to make sure that the policy makers and the policy writers also understand this frame of reference so that if new policies are being developed, there’s a framework and a tool that they're going to employ. And I'll just reference one. It’s a very robust tool, called a racial equity impact assessment. So there are two, three very progressive jurisdictions in the United States: The City of Portland, Seattle, and King County in Seattle that have employed this tool to bring about change within those public institutions and in looking at anti racism.
Public education and awareness, again, we're going to take a very evidence based approach. We're going to do this market research. We're going to go into relationships that are available to us in Indigenous communities and talk about what would a province-wide, what would a good effective meaningful province wide education look like? Who should it be focused on? Should we have a greater focus on youth through social media? Should we have a greater focus on those that are like me in the middle of the demographic sandwich? And this is all good intelligence and information that we need so that when we design that campaign, it’s hitting all the right demographics and all the right constituents in that work that we do.
Community collaboration. I mentioned this earlier. So there’s a core group of anti racism organizations who we're going to be working with. So when we develop these kinds of things, we'll be engaging them in that conversation and seeking their blessings as we move forward so that it will resonate and make a difference, frankly, at the end of the day.
The last one is worth noting, and I know that sounds like bureaucratic jargon, so let me demystify it for you. Sustainable governance. So one of the things that we're hearing in going out into communities, you know, to the government of the day, to the Minister, and to the Directorate, whatever you do, please make sure that this exercise is not a one time exercise, that this exercise is an exercise that has longevity. Sadly, the journey to solve racial equity and achieve racial equity is a long one. It doesn't have to be. It depends on approximately how fast we want to work together and get this done, but it is a journey. It will be a long journey, because lots of things have to get tackled. So if you are doing foundational work today, let’s keep building on that. Let’s keep building on the competency. Let’s keep building on the experience, the data, all the good things that are happening and let’s solve the problem. So you know, Minister Coteau has asked us to think about sustainable options for the Directorate. What would be the right construct on a going forward basis? How could we embed this work so it’s part the of the DNA of the organization, not an afterthought, you know, and so forth. So that’s an important piece of work for us.
The other is organizational capacity and I reference this. We are building up the capacity within the Directorate, and so, you know, we engage in the very open recruitment process to bring those competencies in, and we're moving as fast as we can to get that happening. So that is a quick walk through for you. It’s an intimate crowd, so I can take some questions. Madam Moderator, am I permitted to do that? You're in charge. Any comments or thoughts or questions? Or we can wait at the mic when we have the open forum. You had your hand up. Are you okay?
>> [Off Mic]
>>Sam: Thank you. We issued a province wide release and then we reached out to some of the organizations that we know to see whether they would have other chapters across the province, so that was one thing. And then we also locally got some intelligence around pushing this out. So we're doing the best we can in terms of getting the message out. You know, I think as the Minister mentioned, certainly in the GTA, word of mouth or otherwise, we've been able to get slightly stronger participation. But we're happy to think about other mechanisms. I think we're using some social media as well to get the message out to folks with these kinds of meetings. And by the way, this is not the only opportunity. This is the beginning of the conversation, not the end of the conversation. Right? Because we're going to grow in this exercise together. We have this website. If you have some input, please continue to provide that input. We're actively monitoring the web site. There are comment cards, if you can pass that along. They don't have to be submitted today, so there’s lots of opportunity to get others who, for whatever reasons, may not be able to get here today. Yes, sir?
>> Audience Member: I'm listening with great interest, and I congratulate you on what’s come about so far. Just to someone who’s come through institutional corrections, I've been working on the floor for over 25 years, the disconnect between institutional management and the floor workers is huge. So to get buy in, what I would suggest, and again, this is just my suggestion, that you do get buy in by those who work the floor. Oftentimes, there’s strong cynicism. People are saying, what is it now? What are you going to suggest now? And everybody nods their head and just hopes it all goes away. And I would hate to see that happen in this instance. So I really hope that you take the time, that it’s not just about HR, it’s not just about skills and training, but getting input from people on the floor.
>> Sam: No, thank you. That’s the very point. I've been privileged to have the responsibility to push out many enterprise-wide initiatives, and you're absolutely right. You can have a lot of people at the top and nodding their heads and saying they're going to do this and there’s effectually no input from people in the middle. So we'll get ways to get that input, because the reality is that people like me are the most expendable. It’s the people in the front lines providing services and so on. That’s going to be an important part of what we have to do, but point noted.
>> Audience Member: There’s really no buy in from the front line, and that becomes a real systematic problem.
>> Sam: It does, and I think part of the solution to that and certainly the big bureaucracy with which we work in is how do you engage people? How do you engage your employees? What are your values around that engagement? Open collaboration, sharing information, and creating opportunities for this conversation to happen. This is not an easy conversation. Let’s face it. Especially in institutions. People don't want to talk about race, you know? Either they're worried about being politically correct or some people think it’s just not permissible and some people are lost. So we have to really think hard and carefully about how do we do that with what we have, this discussion in our organization? And it’s not about calling people racist. It’s about dealing with things that are getting in the way of full participation of all of our citizens in society. So I hear you. I think we need a proper plan for that. But part of it is in reaching out to those levels. It’s not just leaving it at senior levels.
>> Audience Member: Sorry. I don't mean to hog the mic. I'll just put in one more point. I also think it shouldn't be a one size fits all, and that’s very easy to say. For example, as a corrections officer, segregation, because of race problems, is a very real problem, but also if we get buy in on how to solve it and do it differently, the problem with safety is still there. The problem of gang affiliation is still there. So if we're just trying to create one program that we're going to try to apply across the way, it’s not going to work, especially in my world.
>> Sam: I'm glad you mentioned that particular one. This tool that I talked about, the racial equity impact assessment, the analogy that I want to draw is like an environmental assessment, so today we don't build bridges and highways and hospitals without doing an environmental assessment. It’s not an option. Right? It’s a hard wired requirement. The racial equity impact assessment tool is exactly like that. It becomes a mandatory piece of work that you do when you're developing policy. So in corrections, there’s a review. As you know, that’s going on in terms of a correctional transformation. We would come in at the front end of that and help reform that view. If you're doing that work, you're not creating an unconscious bias. You're not creating and doing things into the programming that’s going to create issues for either the people delivering the programming or the people that you're serving. So it’s really at the front end of it, but thank you for that. Okay?
>> Audience Member: That was awesome. I love to be even part of that. In a whole other sense, I'm a front line worker, so I deal with pregnant Indigenous people, you know? Like people that are in crisis all the time and they don't know where to go and no one wants to help them. And I'm the person that has to help them, but I've got to do that in a creative way to make my funding support you creatively, because my funding doesn't support you, but I want to support you and I know you need the help. So where I sit, I'm like, okay. You need the help. How can I help you? So that’s literally what I do day in and day out every day. And I'm like, yeah, people don't understand and I get it, but it’s making people understand. Right?
So there’s some people she will tell her life story to, like the person I'm helping, and she will affect everyone in this room, and you never even heard where she came from, what she went through, anything. But she'll affect you and you're like, I want to give you everything I have, because you feel so bad for her. And I'm like, that’s the girl that you were just sitting next to on the bus. Oh, wait. We don't take the bus. Right? Right. We don't take the bus. That’s shitty. But that’s the whole thing. Right? That’s the whole point. These are the people that have to creatively think of how they support themselves, as well as their partners, as well as their children, and sometimes domestic abuse. You know? And she’s like, I just love my kids and I love him and I love everyone. I'm like, you don't need to do that. And she’s like, I do, I do need to do that. And you're like, yeah, you kind of do sometimes, but that’s like where we are. That’s why we're sitting here, but we don't really see that. We don't really see that, because I'm sitting here and I'm well dressed and I'm warm and everything is fly and it’s great, but it’s not real. There are so many people who may have wanted to be here today but they can't get here. They're in Sudbury. They don't got bus fare. Okay. Right? So I'm like, it’s cool, but as front line worker, there’s a lot that’s unseen and it’s great. Like fund, I apply for funding. I get funding and go that’s awesome, but as soon as you want to put it somewhere else, no, no, no, no. And it’s all, like, restricted and it’s great because we all want to help people, but the people that need help sometimes don't get it. And that’s where, like, I'm here. I lived in Sudbury for a long time and I just think it’s awesome, and I don't know. I am the person on the front line doing the hard work and it’s not always easy. And in that sense, I'm happy that I'm here. I'm happy there’s an Anti Racism Directorate like all this stuff is happening, but I really want them to shine light on the dark corners. So yeah, thank you.
>> Sam: Thank you.
>> Sam: Thank you for sharing that and thank you for what you do every day, you know, because I'm up here talking about a bunch of slides and things. You're there dealing with people on a day to day basis making a real difference. So thank you on behalf of everyone here and the people that you're partnering with.
I think you're right, and this is sort of our own bias in terms of how do we bring those voices to the table, voices that traditionally don't have access? And we're challenged on that and welcome your perspective and the people that you're working with every day. How do we bring those lights? How do we tell those stories? Maybe that’s part of what the public education awareness campaign needs to capture, is to capture those real stories. Right? And so people understand that these are real people we're talking about. This is not some process or some bureaucracy or something like that. These are real people and real lives that are being impacted. So I think there are ways that we can work with you. I think one of the other things happening inside of government is how do we have a more holistic view of our programming? How do we program for youth holistically so it’s not down the bureaucratic silo of different ministries. We're trying to improve the lives of youth, whether Indigenous or racialized. We need to get better at that. The Premier launched an initiative about consolidating and having a view from the community, and not government and the bureaucracy, out into the province. I know I'm not trying to answer the question or what you ask, because that’s the very real issue, and we'll all have failed collectively if we're not able to help those very people that you're helping today.
>> Ginelle: Okay. So today really, we are here to hear from everyone who is in this room about the formation of this Directorate and the work of the Directorate. So far we've heard the remarks of the Minister and we've just heard the ADM and now it’s your turn as members of the community to give us our opinions and your ideas. So there are a couple of questions that would guide your comments, and as the minister mentioned, they're not meant to be restrictive, but you have received a card, I think, at the desk does anyone have one? Because that has some of the questions that are meant to guide the discussion today. So you can refer to them.
So again, we're here to really listen. The meeting is being livestreamed and recorded and it may be made available publicly after today’s session. So joining in on the meeting means that you understand and consent to this.
There are French and American Sign Language translations available for this meeting as well. I wonder, I don't have a note here about where the bathrooms are located, but I seem to remember that they're straight through those doors across the hall. Okay? So help yourself. And there are also light refreshments located just outside the lounge area.
So we are interested in hearing from all of you, and I think that we'll play it by ear to see how long it is that you should speak to allow everyone a chance to share their comments. If you don't get a chance to speak today and you go home with some burning questions or issues that you want to, you can visit the e mail antiracism@Ontario.ca, and any feedback will be accepted until December on the website. Antiracism@Ontario.ca, so you would be able to share your comments there. Okay?
So now without any further ado, I'd like to go to the mic. So we have someone.
>> Ginelle: If you could use the mic, that will help with the recording process.
>>Audience Member: Funding in terms of how well the Department of the Directorate will be funded, and it ability to finance grants and things. I would like to know what information you have to share with the audience in terms of that.
>> Sam: So thank you for the question. The original budget for the Anti Racism Directorate, we approved $5 million, and that’s really for the staff, for staffing, for the office space, for the administration, and as we go forward, because all we're doing at this point is really building a strategic plan for the Anti Racism Directorate. But once we go forward and we talk about collecting data or an awareness campaign, we take that plan back to the Cabinet, because the way this Anti Racism Directorate is structured, it reports directly to Cabinet. And that would happen to be when we go forward with the initiatives and we invested in research or an awareness campaign or collection of data, we would go back and request that based on the plan that we come forward with. But the initial $5 million budget is specifically for the operation of the administration of the organization, and anything we come forward with we would go back to Cabinet to approve a budget for anything additional.
>> Audience Member: Hello, (name removed) There’s a couple of points that were running through my head about the Anti Racism Directorate and the conversations we're having today, so I hope I'll make some sense. When I get to talking, it just goes blah blah blah. But one of the things that came to mind was trying to develop solutions that are place based. When we think about lessons learned from history around the Roots of Violence Report, that was heavily focused on Toronto and the violence that was happening there and we really didn't look to see what was happening outside of the GTA. So when we look at racism, well, what’s happening in our northern communities, and I see you're having conversations as far north as Thunder Bay, I would suggest seeing what’s happening in Kunar, seeing what’s happening in Timmins, those other northern communities, because one of the things I think about, too, is the work around the Poverty Reduction Strategy, lessons learned from that. Yeah, it was legislated in 2009. I suppose this is what this is moving towards, but there is no real teeth tied to that and no real funding until the last few years. And I know there’s issues with the funding, getting it out to communities to even access it. When we talk about data and coming from First Nations and Aboriginal community, data is a big issue, and I'm sure everybody knows the issues around that. Right? So how do we make that work? I recently worked with the poverty. That’s on my mind. So I know that even access to that funding to do local community projects for First Nations and Aboriginal organizations continues to be an issue, and that’s something to keep in mind when we're looking toward some anti racism community work. How are we going to make any funding down the road accessible to the communities? Because when you talk about evaluation and data, what about those communities that status and data has never truly been collected? How are you supposed to access and evaluate? First you need to create the foundation. Baseline. Right? That’s what I'm thinking about, too.
Looking at the local level here in Sudbury, we need to have municipal buy in. I don't know if there’s anybody from the city here today. We all know Thunder Bay had an Aboriginal Strategy and a huge racism problem. There’s a huge strategy, but no action. No political will. No relationship. So I think we need to look at the foundational pieces, in doing cross cultural racism, a diverse race building. Does that make sense?
So the future, what does 10 years look like? I think this is the opportunity. We have the ability to really get this right and correct today to see what it looks like in 10 years. If we fail on anything, if we go too quick and miss, we're going to have gaps. One of the things, like when we look at the violence against Aboriginal women’s Strategy, I think there’s 11 or 10 ministries that were bought into that. Is that what’s happening with this as well? So having that total comprehensive buy in. These are just my thoughts and stuff.
>> Ginelle: Thank you.
>> Sam: Thanks for raising that. I want you to know that we're going to take a different approach when it comes to Indigenous communities. On the racialized side we have a process. On the Indigenous side, we are going to take the lead and partner with the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation So we'll be through them, with them. They've not many traditional tables set up, working through the chiefs and so on. So we've not assumed anything. That’s the first point.
The second thing is when we develop, for example, an individual Anti Racism Strategy, we'll be working through those tables and down into the community, and whatever comes back and what comes back. And as you know better than I do, there’s regional diversity as well. Probably not so much as a pan Indigenous Ontarian society, because there’s special things with the Indigenous community as well. We're working with that ministry and those partnerships and those tables that are available to us to see what we can do in terms of programs and go so forth.
Regardless of what the budget of the Directorate is, one of our key roles is to leverage the mandate and the programs of other ministries, because anti racism is everybody’s business. So we want to make sure that they understand what systemic racism looks like when we develop policy, program, and services, because ministries need to be held accountable for their own mandates. That’s going to be a very important part of the work we do is making sure those mandates are leveraged.
>> Minister Coteau: Can I just I'd like to just comment on that, also. A lot of people think that if we create a budget line, if we took a big chunk of money and said you can apply for funding to fight racism, that that’s like a solution approach. I think we can do better than that. And I'll use the Poverty Reduction Strategy as an example. So the Poverty Reduction Strategy, I sat on the Committee for the last few years, and yes, I think it was the $50 million fund to help look for strategies to fight poverty. I think even more importantly than that, there was big policy changes based on Committee work. So for example, you know, they changed the child benefit. That was a big shift. Healthy Smiles. Bringing 70,000 more children into the free dental work program. There is the I mean the shingles vaccine for seniors. You know, that came from the Poverty Reduction Strategy recommendation. One of the most important ones was any family that has under $50,000 in income, $50,000 or under got the children or young people, even adults, each a mother, father, or, you know, you could go to university for free. It’s free tuition now. So those all came as recommendations. It’s like Sam said. It’s about leveraging existing ministries to make better decision making, better policy decisions in order to combat in this case poverty. I went to a Minister’s meeting in Halifax. I was there yesterday and we talked about incarceration. 70% increase in incarceration levels in federal prisons. 70% increase for African Canadians over the last decade. Like that’s a startling number. Why is that happening? We know in Indigenous communities in Ontario and across the country, over representation. Did the African Canadians get bad or is it more within the system when it comes to process and how things work? So we need to look for things like that and pay attention and make recommendations and make those type of changes. My assumption would be that systemic racism, and I would say this with confidence, plays a massive role in incarceration levels. We know that if you're an Indigenous person in Ontario or a Black person in Ontario, you're more likely to be pulled over. You're more likely to be placed into maximum security, solitary confinement, things like that, and these are things that have come out statistically. It can't just be for there has to be many reasons behind it.
And when we talk about front line workers, I would love to hear their impression. Why is that happening? Why is there a 70% increase in the last decade? These are things we need to understand. Money is important. Leveraging ministries is important to me. And the most important thing is really shedding the light on issues that we just have assumptions about. We need to use data to make good intelligent decisions so it’s undeniable when we move forward.
>> Ginelle: Thank you. Going over here?
>> Audience Member: I just have a bit of a feedback. Maybe this is a little logistical about the location of the meeting itself. As someone from Sudbury, I can tell that you if you make an event at Laurentian, I know this is supposed to be a community meeting. When you put a meeting like this at Laurentian, you're cutting off a huge part of the community. And I would just recommend finding a menu somewhere like city hall. If you could get somewhere like that. I’m speaking from ignorance. I don't exactly know what venues are available downtown. But this is a really important and really incredible thing that’s happening and it’s wonderful the government is putting in an actual effort. Like in terms of public education and awareness and collaboration with communities, finding a place that’s more accessible to the different communities you go to might be a good idea. Thank you.
>>Audience Member (name removed) . I work with families that are involved with the CFSA. Also youth who are charged criminally. The thing that sticks out here for me is that the data collection is going to be extremely important. I know we have stats to look at, but they're very outdated.
And what’s that going to look like and how can we make that standard across Ontario? Because data collection in regards to systemic racism coming from an organization like CAS or youth probation is going to be different than coming from an organization like Niswakumuc. So I think that’s really important to collaborate and how is it going to be culturally appropriate to get that information? That’s what I have to say.
>>Audience Member: Just to build off what these two individuals have shared, we have a framework that’s based off Indigenous people. And I know that the guts and everything that comes from that is cultural awareness and cultural safety. That’s not just for Indigenous people. That’s for everyone. And so if you don't feel safe to go somewhere, you're not going to go to the hospital. If you don't feel safe to go somewhere, you're not going to feel safe to go to the Health Unit. A lot of times, Indigenous people are like anyone from any other culture. You'll feel safe going to whatever has been established for you based on what you know. So if there’s a friendship summer, if there is , yeah, you're going to go to it, but it might not be, like, exactly what you need if you're going through a crazy crisis. They're not mainstream. You're not in hospital. You're not at a crisis centre. All of these places that potentially you may need or you might need to my spouse might need this. My child may need this. And we don't know, because we don't know. That’s just like what it is. Or we're scared. And I'm not going there. I’ll not go there because I'm a little bit scared. We can go there together. Okay? So we'll go and that’s all it needs, but sometimes people don't like, you know, they don't go there and they don't access all of these things. Awesome, let’s put these big signs all up everywhere and everyone will come here now. Why is no one coming? They're scared. And then we look at, just like in anything, like we're minimizing the lot of history that just happened in terms of everyone, everyone that lives on in Canada. Like Canada is new. We're new. And yeah, that is a lot that’s happened in the last 100 years. That’s our grandparents. And that’s exactly what happened here. It’s not anything we should be questioning, only because we like to work quick. We like to work quick. We like answers. We like all of this stuff. And yeah, that’s wrong? Why can't we solve this? No, no, no, no, no. Sometimes I just need to listen. Sit down in your chair and just listen to someone and sometimes that takes hours and we're not used to doing that, because we're looking at the clock every five minutes. Sometimes we're just there. You've just got to do it. You've got to do it. And that’s what’s needed. And we're lacking that within our families. Within our families. Within our people. Within our communities. And then we're trying to fix our communities, because they're not functioning properly. I'm like, go talk to your child maybe, because we're neglecting them, trying to fix our communities and trying to be awesome as egotistic human beings. We need to give each other time, and we would be helping each other instead of belittling, instead of judging, because we've all got the same problems. We just lie about them. That’s it. Literally, like instead of judging, like come on. And as a Committee, I hope you guys understand that, too. As a front line worker, there’s no judging. It’s not like, oh, you're doing that again? Okay. I need to help you a little more, not judge you, and that’s it.
>> Ginelle: Thank you.
>> Audience Member: The first point is which institutions should we be looking at? And if you're talking about a population of people that are victims of racism, they're already in a powerless position and some organization like the Police Department is automatically a self regulating organization. I have no idea how you are going to get accurate data or any indication that people are being racist from a totally dominant white oriented organization like that.
>> [Off Mic]
>> Minister Coteau: Can everyone hear me? I'll use the microphone.
>> [Off Mic]
>> Audience Member: Yeah.
>> Minister Coteau: So you have to mandate organizations. Like I said at the beginning. I went into that at the school board. One of the few organizations that does it, only 10 years later, but recently, I announced that I'm also responsible for Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario, so I just announced a few weeks ago that I would be mandating Children’s Aid Societies to start to collect data across the province. I've been talking to my colleagues in different ministries, and it really comes through regulation. You know, it is the carding policy that was just changed, I guess the deadline is in January to make changes on how police officers approach people when it comes to, you know, random stops. That has to change. There’s an accountability process that’s put in place. If we want data from police services, one way can come through boards. The other way is through legislation. So that’s a conversation we would have to have, but you can't just mandate without really understanding the process you're going to be putting in place. This is what we're kind of figuring out right now, you know, building a framework for data collection has to be flexible enough to work in many different organizations, but it has to be enforceable and it has to be positioned in a way that allows for real data to come through and not just any data we decide to collect. There are jurisdictions where this is happening. Sam spoke about Portland, Seattle, other jurisdictions where this is happening. The Directorate will go out and work with those groups to figure out how they're doing it. But you know, as a society, you know, this is our police force. This is our school boards. And the politicians that are put in place are accountable back to the public and my expectation is if there’s a will to go forward, we'll make those changes. So it will have to be through regulation, legislation, or boards deciding to do it themselves. But it’s a culture shift. Back to the first point I made, making sure that the people on the ground are actually doing the work for front line people. What we're trying to achieve and buy in as well. It’s a complicated process, but I honestly believe that we'll be able to start to collect good data and complement that with stats Canada and the school board at the TDSB has done an incredible job and they have so much detailed information now, and last comment around, you know, the cultural importance, you can't just collect data and release it. You have to work with communities to figure out how you release that information as well. So it’s a very, very, very complicated process. We'll be putting in place a group of people to consult with on this that understands some of these issues that come forward. I'm very confident that we'll be able to put in place what we want to achieve.
>> Audience Member: I just have a question. I guess from me when I'm reading this, as far as the data goes, where do we start? We're talking about something that’s so imbued in our culture. If we look just south of the border with their election, and I don't want to get on a side tangent with that, but what we're seeing is people not understanding their history where you have a candidate saying things like America first, you know, and international banking conspiracy, which is all stuff, by the way that came out in the forties. It was anti-Semitic. It was highly racist and now it’s coming into our mainstream and before we go thinking in Canada we're much better, Kelly Leitch is talking about Canadian cultural values. Wow. Never thought I'd hear it. Never thought I'd see it. But there it is. The question is how do we start asking the right questions. It looks like such a monumental task that I wonder what the starting point is. What questions do we ask and to who?
>>Minister Coteau: I've been through this process before. Just so you know, if you don't know much about the Toronto school board, 250,000 students, 100,000 adult students, $3.2 billion budget, about 560 schools, 35,000 employees. Pretty large organization. And little reason I mention those numbers, it goes back to everything we're saying about getting staff to buy into it, making sure you can find resources, understanding who you need to survey and how you're going to go about doing that. It took us about three years to figure it out. It took a long time and fortunately we can use that information that they've learned to ask the right types of question remember. The Toronto District School Board sends us a series of questions, and the questions are asked at different periods within that student’s, I think three times, within the period of their academic career from JK to 12. The information is now so detailed, and I always use this example, that you could ask the question, how are grade eight girls from Grenadian background, second generation, you know, in the west end of Toronto, how are they doing in French? And you can actually get the data. And the beautiful thing about that data, it’s so detailed and it talks about the economic status. It talks about the family configuration. It even has down to self identified, if people want to identify, their family composition structure and makeup. The beauty behind that type of information, and what the parents are asked or the students in high school are asked to do at the very beginning of the year, is to be able to do better policy planning. But it took a couple of tries to get it right and the information as well. It doesn't happen overnight, and there’s going to be mistakes made, but you have to get buy-in from staff. You have to get buy-in from community members. You have to get buy-in even from the people that you're actually trying to get the information from, because some people might not want to participate in that process. So I think the TDSB, they might have an 80% buy in. I think it’s around there the last time I checked. It’s very complicated. You can't just go in there and demand information. It won't work. But the rest of Toronto has just committed to doing it as well, and I know that the Toronto Children’s Aid Society has started to produce some data, and the data collection in the two organizations are not as advanced as the Toronto District School Board, but they get to a point where they're getting much better. There’s so many factors and so many concerns.
TDSP data collection process costs about $2 million to do, so there’s a cost to it, too. Right and that’s just one board. I think there’s 74 boards in Ontario. So that’s just the school board. So there’s a lot of complications, but that’s why it’s important for us to say to ourselves to answer the question as a community, where do we start? Where do we go first? Back to your question, if it was my preference, I would love to start in education. I'd love to start in corrections. I'd love to start in Children’s Aid Societies. Even more importantly, I'd love to start in the public service. We have 70,000 employees in the public service. We appointed people to different appointments, things like that. I'd love to know, who do we actually appoint? And compare that –
>> Ginelle: Thank you.
>> Minister Coteau: Well, we talk about with 51% women in Ontario, I don't know if that number is reflected in the way we I'm not sure. I would be surprised if three or four per cent of public deployments are in employment groups in Ontario. I don't know what the numbers are, I could be completely wrong. But those are the types of things we can start to collect and even when it comes to the public service, is it reflective of, you know, the communities that they work on behalf of? This is not about affirmative action. It’s not about going out there and mandating, you have to do this and this. It’s about understanding what we're doing so we can make improvements based on that information.
>> [Off Mic]
>> Audience Member: The public service is symptomatic of everything else in society and that’s white privilege. It would be silly to think anything different. And I mean, I just sit there sometimes, and this is why I'm saying, like, I like the idea of starting with the kids in school and so on. I think that’s a really great idea, because in 10 years, that will mean something and that will be our public service, but the other thing is this, too, and maybe I want to choose my words carefully here. We have people from a certain political party that’s in government. But if the public service is going to be dismantled, this will not be a political statement that will be a political statement. But if the public service is going to be dismantled and broken up and privatized. That’s another problem. That means another sort of barrier into service delivery. So that has to be acknowledged. We have to learn how to fix it. If we're going to break the tools to fix it, I don't know what else to say. Nudge nudge, wink wink,
>> Minister Coteau: Well, I don't know of any plan of dismantling the public service. I've never heard of that before. I know the public service jobs in Ontario are among the best jobs in Canada and they have good salaries, good pensions, and I hope they stay that way.
>> Audience Member: Privatization.
>> Minister Coteau: I'm not aware of the privatization of those positions, but going back to my point here, at the end of the day, good data allows to us make better decisions. That’s all.
>> Ginelle: We have a question here. Or a comment. Sorry.
>>Audience Member: Thank you. I completely agree. I think that it’s necessary to take a look at where anti racism intersects and what systems, and I have a preoccupation, I guess. I'm 100% for the collection of race based data. I work in the child welfare sector and I really commended your challenge to the system and, in fact, perhaps some changes to the legislation that will compel our field. Perhaps many others to follow. But my question around how can we ensure that the data that we collect is accurate? One of the challenges that I foresee is I think you made mention of folks being fearful or not, perhaps not quite understanding why we are asking specific questions of them. I know from a child welfare lens, you know, Children’s Aid has a bad rap, for good reasons. People back it up. People are fearful immediately. And when I'm working with my colleagues and encouraging them and telling them how important it is for us to have this data, I need to reassure them that they can safely have these discussions. I need to support them to ask the questions in a way that folks will feel safe and comfortable answering, and I need to also be able to share with my colleagues the importance of that information so that they can then reassure the service users or community members what we're going to do with this information. Why is it important? So I guess for me, that is a resource issue in some ways. It’s also I think really important that this initiative and that the Directorate spend appropriate time engaging community members in the conversation about how do we work collaboratively so that if and when you need the support, and I know that people who are marginalize and had racialized and living in poverty need tremendous supports, and we have a responsibility creator we all have a responsibility to provide those supports to them, how are we going to do it in a meaningful way? In a way that is going to be well received from them in the first place? In the way that they feel safe coming through the door?
>> Audience Member: Again, working alongside with CAS very closely, what we have to remember, too, is historical trauma, colonization, all of those pieces that I know as an Indigenous woman in working with these families involved with CAS, they're not going to trust your organization to give you that information. I don't believe that that’s going to happen. So that’s why this data collection is going to be different coming from an agency such as myself versus the same data collection coming from your organization. Right? So if it’s the same across the board, then it’s going to be successful. We're going to get that information, and also, as I was speaking earlier, is systemic racism, if you've never experienced racism, you're not going to believe that there’s a problem. So for example, working with Aboriginal youth involved in the criminal justice system, I don't know, I don't want to make a political statement or throw anybody under the bus, but youth probation who I work closely with, they don't believe there’s systemic racism, and there is. It is evident. We know there is.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is good luck getting that information, and if we can work together, I think that, too, is the awareness and the education is going to be very important. So those stories coming from people who experienced racism on an individual basis, but systematically, it has to be bought into. Right? And it will be if we continue to work together. And like with the poverty reduction. That started in 2009. We've got to keep going and make sure there’s no lapse and keep plugging away. So the news, this is great, and I know you said you're doing more and then just to continue doing it next year. And then next year and making policy changes and legislation and it’s great that you guys get to go right to Cabinet. Right? So yeah.
>>Audience Member: I have a comment sort of talking about way earlier that was mentioned about how to break into sort of, lack of a better word, or how to access groups that are kind of self governing. Groups that are kind of more like the police force and stuff like that. And in the judiciary especially. On top of being able to mandate and go through government and gain access through the front door, another approach that might work in tandem as well is that there are a lot of really good people in these systems already, and maybe trying to identify and find these people who are insiders to the community might give you maybe kind of a more I don't want to say sneaky, but allow you to kind of you know what I mean? Strategically
>> Audience Member: Kind of like finding allies?
>> Audience Member: Yeah.
>>Audience Member: Yeah. Finding people on the inside who can give you help, coming in from the front door and the back door, trying to come in all the way.
>> Ginelle: Thanks very much. And so far here?
Audience Member>> My question or more a statement is regarding the policy development. I've lived in southern Ontario and now I'm in the north and a lot of policies are built around the south and these issues are quite different. I work with a city and part of my role, as I mentioned before, was about it being inclusive and a welcoming community. And a number of institutions that I've reached out to, they completely object to the fact that there is systemic racism, and so because they believe there’s no problem, there’s no issue to be solved. The sentiment comes across that it’s a small group being affected so it doesn't really matter. The general population is not affected. That’s the attitude that comes across. But another issue that I wanted to bring across as related to the north is the fact that the populations, yes, they are small and in terms of data collection, they'll be issued there in terms of privacy and others where racialized groups and Aboriginal communities are going to be smaller, there will be issues in terms of how do you deal with the data that’s collected and how do you treat it in terms of out reach and how that information is shared?
>> Ginelle: Thank you so much. Any other comments? Okay. So as we wrap up, I'm just going to share a sense of what I've heard this evening or this afternoon. It’s not quite evening yet. So because there was sort of a question and answer vibe to the meeting today, some of the comments I'll share are from the Ministers and some are from you. So talked about building a strategic plan, but you also emphasize that we need to look at place based solutions. We heard that. And we need to focus on what’s happening in Northern Ontario. There was some sentiment is that you were happy that there were other locations in Northern Ontario being looked at, but you're encouraging the ministry to look at more and give people an opportunity to bring their voice. So data was mentioned as being an issue for Aboriginal communities. It was also mentioned that there needed to be municipal buy in, because there’s a strategy, but no action, so action needs to be tied to that strategy and there was also an expression of a lack of political will and leadership and relationship with people on these issues.
So we heard also that there needs to be an appreciation or that there is already an appreciation of the diversity within Indigenous communities and that the approach is going to take that into account as well. We were asked to look at other ministries and some of you expressed delight that we were not going to be working in silos, but looking at a comprehensive approach with other ministries.
Talked a little bit about the community meeting location being more accessible to people in the city so that we could get to it and that this was a bit remote or difficult for people to get to who couldn't take the bus here, didn't have bus fare or whatever reason, so that’s something to be considered for the future.
There was an expression that people are generally happy that the government is taking a look at this right now. And that data collection is going to be extremely important, but one thing that you wanted to make sure that we heard is that there has to be standards across the province, so that there is race and cultural appropriateness to that. We also heard about cultural safety, cultural awareness, access to services that people need to feel safe to be able to access services.
>> [Off Mic]
>> Audience Member: She was saying that there is an example in Timiskaming .
>> Audience Member: Yeah. I'm talking about the Timiskaming Indigenous framework that’s been adopted in our area, and I know it’s getting adopted in a couple other communities, too. So it works based on what your community is based on as well, but it’s just on awareness, like cultural awareness, cultural check, cultural it’s like based on if the hospital were to put on a workshop, it might be scary for people to go there just based on your cultural background. If it was held at maybe like a had you been or somewhere else, then yeah, you're going to get the five moms versus the zero moms. And it’s just like that cultural awareness piece, that cultural sensitivity, and it’s all of that. And it’s a very awesome document. You guys could find it online. And it’s great and it’s been working. All our partners that we're been partnering with as an Indigenous agency, they've been welcoming, and it’s been helping. I don't know if it’s completely infiltrated, whatever, yeah, with that, but in that whole sense, we're making some leeway.
>> Audience Member: So could you repeat what the name of the document is again?
>> Audience Member: So it’s the Indigenous – Timiskaming Indigenous Linguistic Framework.
>> Ginelle: Okay. Thank you very much. Thank you for that. We also heard that we need to be careful about which institutions we're going to look at. We talked about the police, the Children’s Aid Society, it is school boards. We talked about not being able to just mandate it, but to build understanding of the process that we're putting in place, particularly amongst the people on the front lines, as well as those in administrative positions. And the Directorate expressed that they're going to be learning from other jurisdictions where work has been done in building an anti racism framework and approach in policy. They mentioned a few cities in the United States.
We heard a little bit about a concern of some of the things going on south of the border , but also going on right here with people at different levels of politics expressing things that may be considered Canadian cultural values and very questionable language around how that really translates for people who are marginalize and so forth. We talked about the cost to data collection and how careful you have to be to do it properly. Looking at public appointments and starting within the public service. Looking at women and cultural representation. Looking at white privilege within the public service and about how privatization may impact the ability of the Directorate to have it influence in this area.
We talked about the importance of community engagement and the historical trauma caused by colonization that build a lack of trust amongst people of the very institutions that we're expecting them to go to to get served or to do these changes. We were encouraged to keep doing the town halls, even after the December period, to keep the community engaged and keep the conversation going and that policies seem to be built around the south, but need to address also northern communities and the fact that this issue is not as easily acknowledged as it may be to the south.
And finally, we heard about smaller communities experiencing an issue with privacy around the data contribution. So I hope that reflects all of the comments we heard today, and I'd like to thank you for sharing openly and invite the Minister for closing remarks.
>>Minister Coteau: I'll do it from here. Let’s give our moderator a big round of applause.
Minister Coteau: I wanted to thank everyone for being here today. I want to thank our volunteers in the redshirts. That they are not here, but I think they're outside. Thank them on our behalf, please. Most of all, I want to thank you for participating. This has been a very different conversation than any of the other conversations we had. In the other meetings, there were so many people. Everyone got two minutes and they had to go, you know, quickly, quickly. This has been a very intimate conversation and a lot of good ideas. Sam was saying to me, it’s interesting. We've got a lot of good ideas from this consultation. So I just want to say thank you. I know some folks traveled. Some people are here because they want to figure out how they can be allies. Some people are here because they believe that, you know, changes have to come also from input from the front line. And of course, the municipal connects in many different communities. So I just want to say thank you for being here and helping us, because we don't have all the answers, but what we do have, Glenn and myself, Sam, the whole ARD team, is the passion to champion change in this province. We know that we've done well in many regards in this province and it’s provided a lot of opportunity for some people. You know, I'm an immigrant to Canada. I grew up in a place called Flemingdon Park in Toronto. There’s some special challenges in my neighbourhood that I grew up in. I was provided with an opportunity to do some stuff and I feel pretty honoured to be out talking to people about racism and how we can make changes. Children’s Aid Societies, how we can make changes. All have a commitment from me if we can do it, we'll do it. If it’s better for people in Ontario, and I want to keep that conversation going. I believe that’s a very valid point. Maybe as we build into the plan, there has to be maybe a second round of discussions maybe a year into it to see what people are think and to get more feedback. So an ongoing process built into the larger process. So thank you for your time. We finished a little bit early, so folks can get back home to their loved ones or friends or just to go home and do what you have to do, and again, we appreciate the fact that you took the time to be here today to talk about an issue that people don't like talking about, you know: Racism. But we need to talk about it if we're going to make this province, this country a better place for everyone. So again, thank you on behalf of the Premier and thank you for your commitment to building a better Ontario. Thank you.