Like many in Guelph, I was horrified to watch the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. I have felt heartbroken in the knowledge that many others have lost their lives under similar circumstances.
As your mayor, I have spent the last several days talking with members of the black community who live in Guelph; these individuals have graciously shared their stories, fears, and hopes with me. I have listened, and asked for guidance on how we can come together as a community to support those who experience discrimination and oppression in their daily lives.
Diversity is a central tenet of Guelph’s Community Plan, which outlines a united vision for our city that includes “celebrating our diversity” and our “commitment to inclusive prosperity.” In consultation with our Chief Administrative Officer Scott Stewart, we have decided to use upcoming discussions about our Strategic Plan, and our ongoing evaluation of the Community Plan, to identify any gaps within our work related to diversity and inclusion. We hope to build upon our strong foundation and identify meaningful opportunities to formalize these values through plans and policies going forward.
There are some people who believe that racism does not exist in Guelph. This sentiment – the denial of the experience of people of colour in our community – is part of the problem. I believe that Guelph is and has always been a welcoming community. However, we are not immune to the anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, and discrimination against people of colour, that we see around the world.
Systemic racism and discrimination are only allowed to thrive when we turn a blind eye to their very existence. We must stand united in our commitment to stopping this deeply-ingrained prejudice in its tracks. The City of Guelph is committed to taking meaningful, intentional action to remove barriers to inclusion so we can help every member of our community feel safe and flourish.