I would like to provide some comments on the tragic events that have transpired in the US.

The killing of George Floyd has left many Ottawa residents and Canadians shaken, angry, hurt and disgusted.

Watching his senseless killing is difficult to bear for many as it was for me.

Watching George Floyd say “I CAN’T BREATHE” and pleading for his mother’s help – as life drained from his body – is more that most of us can tolerate.
Following his senseless death, violence has erupted across the United States.

The tens of thousands of protestors we are seeing in the streets across the US, here in Canada and around the world, are speaking up and standing in solidarity – and we must all stand in solidarity.

And while the death of Mr. Floyd has focused most attention on the United States, we know that as a country, we are not immune to racism, or racist behavior, and we are far from perfect.

Racism is present in our midst.

And we must continue to stamp it out whenever it rears its ugly head, whether it’s in the community, at a police station, at City Hall or anywhere else.

I am grateful that we live in a country where we have the courage to name things for what they are.

And make no mistake, eradicating racism is a duty that belongs to each and every one of us.

It is our individual obligation as residents and citizens of our City, Province and Country to denounce racism each and every time we witness it.

Whether the demonstration of racism appears insignificant or large – we must have the courage to stand up and say that we will not tolerate any form of racism in our city and in our country.

And that includes standing up for our fellow residents of Asian descent who are being subjected to racist and hurtful taunts because of the absurd notion that they somehow bear responsibility for the COVID19 pandemic.

Because racism can only survive and spread if it has oxygen.

The more we refuse to give it oxygen, the less it has room to breathe and expand.

We also have to continue to do everything in our power to build a strong, prosperous and inclusive community.

That includes housing and food security, jobs and economic security.

We must do everything in our power so that all Ottawa residents, whether they have been here for 50 days or 50 years, feel that this City is their home, and they feel welcomed and valued in this house.

And even though the COVID 19 pandemic has made that challenge even more daunting, I believe that we are – as a city, province and country – up to the task.

With that being said, I plan to take part in the “No Peace Until Justice” march at the U.S. Embassy on Sussex with members of the community on Friday, June 5 at 3:00pm.

While I know this is an important event, and I am encouraged by the positivity surrounding this particular gathering, we MUST remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is still present in our community.

If we do not respect the public health guidelines, we may set ourselves back weeks, or even months.

So, for all those who plan to attend: please wear a mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands as soon as you get the chance to do so.
On June 2, I asked members of FEDCO to continue to work together to demonstrate our collective willingness to strengthen the fight against racism in our City.

I was pleased that the motion was carried unanimously at the committee meeting.

This motion allows us to build on that plan that we approved last year.

I am pleased that Councillor Rawlson King has accepted my proposal to take on the role of Council Liaison for Anti-Racism issues and Ethnocultural Relations, subject to Council’s approval at the June 10 meeting.

Members of Council and the public will recall that Councillor King proposed that an Anti-Racism Secretariat be created at the City of Ottawa in 2019, and I was proud to work with him and my Council colleagues to include this measure in the 2020 budget.

Councillor King has been approached by numerous groups and individuals who wish to engage with him on the City’s various anti-racism initiatives.

This motion recognizes Councillor King in a formal leadership role on behalf of Ottawa City Council, similar to that played by Councillors Theresa Kavanagh on gender equity issues, Matt Luloff on Veterans’ issues, and Catherine McKenney on Housing and Homelessness.
Working together, we can build a more inclusive city.