New Mississauga anti-racism group makes first decision: what to call itself
Published February 9, 2023 at 4:25 pm
A new City of Mississauga committee has been formed to fight racism, discrimination and hatred.
And before the committee has even met for the first time, the first issue–the name of the group–was briefly debated by councillors at Wednesday’s (Feb. 8) meeting of general committee.
As part of a broader series of recommendations related to some 20 committee groups of council for the 2022-2026 term, City staff tabled for approval the new Combating Racism and Hate Advisory Committee.
The fledgling group will take the baton from the current Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee (DIAC), which staff and councillors agree has after eight years accomplished what it set out to do and will, therefore, be disbanded.
Councillors and staff agree on the mandate of the new group, which will “provide insights to council and staff on the needs of diverse, equity-deserving communities in Mississauga
impacted by racism and hate. The committee will also guide staff in supporting communities in fighting racism and hate through policies, programs and services.”
However, several councillors were uncomfortable with the word “hate” being included in the name.
“I find it a little harsh. I get the idea, and I have no problem with the terms of reference and the mandate of what the committee should do, but I’m a little uncomfortable with the way the committee has been named, so I’d like some feedback from whomever on why that name is being recommended,” said Ward 11 Councillor Brad Butt.
Mayor Bonnie Crombie countered that boldness and directness are what’s called for in the fight against racism and hate, so why not have that reflected in the committee’s name.
“I understand the name is kind of harsh, but that’s what it’s intended for. Let’s put some meat behind this, because these are the very incidents that make us squirm. Every time we hear of a hate-related incident…so this is a committee that tackles that head on,” said Crombie.
Ward 4 Councillor John Kovac and his colleague in Ward 5, Carolyn Parrish, also expressed dissatisfaction with “hate” being included in the name.
Parrish suggested expanding the group name to Combating Racism, Discrimination and Hatred Advisory Committee. Her revision met with nods of agreement from fellow councillors.
“I didn’t like the word hate, either,” said Parrish, adding the word “hatred” is a bit softer.
She also wanted to include “discrimination” in the name as it carries its own specific meaning.
“I think it covers it because sometimes …it’s discrimination and it floats around different groups at different times,” she said
Responding to Butt, City staff said they didn’t want to mince words when suggesting a committee name.
“There are compelling realities that our racialized communities are facing and we can call it whatever we want, but let’s face it, it’s racism and hate,” said Uzma Shakir, strategic leader for diversity, equity and inclusion at the City.
Shakir added she’s also “…cognizant of the fact right now that certain communities are impacted and hurting. And racism and hate are realities we need to acknowledge.
“We need some guidance, some advice from our communities as to how exactly are they experiencing racism and hate and how can we, as a municipal government, change our programs and policies to address that pain.”insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising