Guelph revisits Community Plan with new approach to eliminating systemic racism

Online engagement launches today, closes December 5

Guelph, Ont., November 18, 2021 – Guelph’s Community Plan is getting an update and everyone’s voice is needed.

Until December 5, the Guelph community is invited to participate in an online engagement session at haveyoursay.guelph.ca/community_plan to help set the community standard for the elimination of systemic racism.

“The Community Plan is a living document, and was always intended to evolve and change as the community grows. In revisiting the plan, our goal is to address the significant omission of any direction related to systemic racism,” says Sara Sayyed, the City of Guelph’s senior advisor of Equity, Anti-Racism and Indigenous Relations, adding, “We know that eliminating systemic racism and turning what we’ve learned from the community into new policy and action won’t be easy goals to achieve, but it’s an aspiration we need to reach for and push to achieve. We need people to look at the draft of the new section and add their thoughts.”

The update comes from conversations with community members, leaders and groups from across the city.

“We’ve listened and learned from many equity-deserving and rights-asserting voices over the last year and a half, and we continue to hear from and listen to others,” says Marva Wisdom, a community leader who was also involved in the first version of the Community Plan.

The draft new section of the Community Plan speaks of a vision for how everyone must work as a united community. It also talks about the importance of building the relationships and trust necessary for the sustained effort needed to eradicate the racism and colonialism embedded in structural systems.

“Our learning has helped to shape the new and important pieces of the Community Plan; addressing gaps we have known existed for some time and laying a strong foundation for the action planning ahead. While we’ve made good progress in this work, we know that we have more voices to listen to. Often those with lived experience of systemic racism are not afforded the space to impart their experience and knowledge toward its mitigation and, we expect, it’s elimination. That’s why we’re here, reaching out more broadly to the community, so that we can support and amplify these voices and make sure that we’re getting this right,” explains Wisdom.

Have your say

Join the conversation at haveyoursay.guelph.ca/community_plan.

“We acknowledge that racism and exclusion exist in many forms including but not limited to Anti-Black racism, Anti-Indigenous racism, Anti-Asian racism, Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Anti-2SLGBTQIA+, ageism and ableism. We also acknowledge that some conversations about systemic racism are difficult for some people. We have partnered with Here247 to provide free mental health or crisis support for community members to access while having these difficult conversations with us,” says Sayyed.

Community members are encouraged to read the background information, including how we got here, and revisit the original Community Plan to see the new section in context.

Each of the eight elements of the vision were created from conversations with people and communities from across Guelph, but not everyone’s voice has been heard.

“Please read each element and share your thoughts and your unique ideas to help reframe the Community Plan with a vision about how we will work together to end systemic racism,” says Sayyed

What comes next?

The next step is to create an action plan with specific strategies and actions to rid systemic racism and barriers to inclusion from our institutions, policies and governance structures.

Resources

Here247 website or call 1-844-437-3247 to speak to a trusted service provider.

A United Vision: Guelph’s Community Plan, 2019

About the Community Plan

Introduced in 2019, Guelph’s Community Plan is a celebration of the community’s diversity, shared values and direction for the future. It is the culmination of 18 months of conversations, observations, research and writing. More than 10,000 Guelphites worked together to write the plan. Themes include we are home, we protect our environment, we create value, we feel well, we play explore, and we move around freely. The plan guides the work of Guelph’s municipal government and gives community organizations and residents a shared road map to monitor progress and share what is learned.

Media contacts

For Community Plan inquiries

Marva Wisdom
Lead external advisor to the Community Plan
Senior Leadership and Equity Practitioner
519-835-4004
[email protected]

For Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities/action plan inquiries

Sara Sayyed
Senior Advisor, Equity, Anti-Racism and Indigenous Initiatives
Strategy, Innovation and Intergovernmental Services
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3509
[email protected]