Edmonton Black Leaders Call for Action, Cite Stalled Anti-Racism Efforts

Temitope Oriola

Thirty prominent leaders from Edmonton’s Black community have joined forces to address the city’s administration regarding what they perceive as a stagnant approach to the Anti-Black Racism Action Plan. In a collective letter endorsed by 28 representatives from Edmonton’s African and Caribbean communities, they accuse city officials of neglecting the plan since its unanimous approval by the city council last August.

Dated April 25th, the letter voices concerns about alleged deliberate delays, obstructionism, and attempts to create discord among communities. It was directed to Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, city councillors, and Eddie Robar, the acting city manager replacing Andre Corbould.

The signatories stress that while Black communities are committed to making contributions, the primary responsibility for implementing the plan rests with the City of Edmonton’s administration. They ask a fundamental question: Is the city prepared to take tangible action?

Dunia Nur

The plan originated from collaborative efforts between community representatives and the city, prompted by attacks on Black, Muslim, and 2SLGBTQ+ individuals in Edmonton, and George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer. With 130 recommendations, the plan offers a comprehensive roadmap across sectors like employment, social development, arts, transit safety, and data collection.

Temitope Oriola, a University of Alberta criminology professor and signatory, emphasizes prioritizing the plan by the city administration, expressing confidence in the city council’s capacity to drive progress.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi

The city’s response mentions addressing recommendations through initiatives like affordable housing strategies and programs for equity-deserving youth, along with a new course on Black Canadian history and anti-racism in collaboration with the University of Alberta. However, it doesn’t directly address the accusations against city administrators, instead scheduling a meeting with signatories and anticipating an independent anti-racism body later in the year.

This letter is the latest critique in Edmonton’s ongoing struggle to implement a comprehensive strategy against racism, dating back to 2018. An email exchange from February to April 2024 revealed unsuccessful requests from the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council (ACCEC) for transparency regarding the anti-racism body’s selection committee.

Dunia Nur, president and CEO of ACCEC, laments the erosion of transparency and equity principles despite the city council’s decision to implement the motion unanimously. Gloria Anniva, executive director of Rarica Now, echoes these sentiments, urging the city administration to collaborate and keep the community informed for meaningful transformation within the Black 2SLGBTQ+ community, as Rarica’s support for newcomers has doubled in less than a year.