Police chief pledges that “equity, diversity and inclusion are here to stay”
By Steven Sandor | February 1, 2023
Opening ceremonies are usually filled with music, performance and speeches. And, there was plenty of pomp and circumstance on hand as Black History Month kicked off at City Hall on Wednesday afternoon.
“We must look at the reality of where we are today,” said Nigel Williams, the host of the kickoff event and the communications person for the Edmonton chapter of the National Black Coalition of Canada. “Although, as a community, we are better positioned in 2023 than we were in the inaugural years (of BHM), we still need to talk about the silent structures of inequality and barriers that still exist this very day.”
After a lesson in African drumming from the Sangea Academy and songs from the Melisizwe Brothers, Edmonton Police Service Chief Dale McFee pledged that “equity, diversity and inclusion are here to stay” on the force. He highlighted recent initiatives, including a collaboration with the Somali community which led to the creation of two liaison positions. He spoke of a program that informs citizens about their rights and responsibilities when dealing with EPS — and that it was created in 17 different languages.
“I’m so pleased to know many members of this community,” said McFee. “They’ve helped us shape, they’ve helped us train, they give our EPS employees support, and many of them are EPS employees, both sworn and civilian. We’ve readjusted on hate crimes. We’ve adjusted the barriers in reporting. And we’re creating a police service that’s more reflective of our city’s diverse communities.”
“Today, nearly 150,000 Black people live in Alberta,” said Deputy Premier and Minister of Skilled Trades and Professions Kaycee Madu. “And, the community continues to grow. While we continue to fight racism and [there are] all kinds of obstacles in our path — and help improve the lives of Black people in this province — let me emphasize that this is a land of opportunity. This is a land where it doesn’t matter where you come from… you can — and we must — overcome those obstacles to have the same, equal opportunities as every person who calls this province home.”
Which is your go-to Christmas movie?
13%Miracle on 34th Street
20%A Nightmare Before Christmas
4%Jingle All the Way
Mayor Amarjeet Sohi noted the recent decision to name a downtown alley after civil rights activist Lulu Anderson, who in 1922 was denied entry into a movie theatre, and took the owners to court.
“Today, Edmonton’s Black community is so strong, so dynamic, so resilient,” said Sohi. “They’re so integral to the success of our city. I am so proud that, collectively, we get to represent you, that we get to work on your behalf, to live up to expectations to live up to your aspirations, to build an Edmonton for all of us.” Edmonton has yet to have a Black person elected to council.