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Thread: Kings to Launch Anti-Racism Policy

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    Kings to Launch Anti-Racism Policy

    KENTVILLE — Kings County residents will have the province’s first race relations policy based on the United Nations’ commitments to address racial discrimination around the world.

    Today, Kings County council’s new committee on race relations and anti-discrimination will be officially launched, making it the only such municipal committee in Nova Scotia.

    "UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) put out 10 commitments for combating racism and discrimination, and Kings County council has committed to forming (its) own committee following these commitments," Jim Retallack, a citizen member and secretary of the committee, said Monday.

    The committee was not formed in response to any recent events.

    "It’s just an underlying issue that was there and not being addressed," Mr. Retallack said in an interview.

    "The structure provided by the UN gave council the opportunity to put something in place," he said.

    The committee is comprised of two councillors and four citizen members.

    "We’ve taken the 10 commitments and parsed them out and asked: ‘Which are the ones that we can address most effectively?’ " said Mr. Retallack.

    It has started with employment practices within the municipality.

    It plans to rewrite its employment policies so they are inclusive, and train all municipal staff in issues of discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation and disabilities.

    Mr. Retallack said it’s significant that council has formally approved the committee, recognizing "that this is an issue that needs to be addressed."

    The committee has set up a website, where it plans to publish people’s rights and steps to take if someone believes there has been an act of discrimination.

    The committee also plans to survey people’s attitudes toward equality issues in an attempt to understand the underlying beliefs, said Mr. Retallack, president and CEO of Acadia Management Group Inc., an energy consulting firm based in Wolfville.

    "We also want people to start thinking about exclusion," he added, "so that they understand by their own behaviour what it is they may be doing."

    The committee has met with the Kings detachment of the RCMP to look at the police force’s program of recruiting and training as a possible example for the county.

    He said the Mounties also meet with foreign students at Acadia University each year to explain how the force operates, which in many cases is radically different from how police forces operate in their home countries.

    The committee will be formally launched today at the Old Orchard Inn in Greenwich, with guest speaker Igho Natufe, president of the National Council of Visible Minorities in Ottawa.

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