A delegation of concerned citizens appeared in front of council Monday following two incidents where disparaging racial remarks were made at the West Ferris Arena during minor hockey games.
Director of Communications for the Anishinabek Nation and Union of Ontario Indians Maurice Switzer explained the delegation to council consisted of three presenters. The first presenter was the parent of one of hockey players who was targeted with the racist insult. She spoke of the personal hurt the comments had caused and is now looking for solutions that would discourage any similar occurrences in future. She feels cross-cultural training should be offered to hockey officials.
Also in attendance was a Nipissing First Nation council member who supported the parents from their community, and said their First Nation is willing to work with North Bay to make things better.
Switzer also spoke to council on behalf of the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI) asking council to publicly denounce the actions as unacceptable behaviour.
He specifically asked North Bay City Council to: issue a public statement endorsing the concept of community diversity and to develop a municipal diversity plan/strategy that would include cross-cultural training for staff. He also requested that North Bay be added to the list of signatories that have joined a Canadian coalition of municipalities against racism.
Switzer says the UOI is more than willing to work with the council on all of the initiatives outlined.
Mayor Vic Fedeli said he personally investigated the issue immediately following the incident with Chief Marianna Couchie, the coach of the hockey team and with Switzer. Fedeli says the boy publicly admitted making the offensive remark and extended his hand to the other boy and apologised. At that point, Fedeli says everyone involved generally felt the admission of guilt and the apology was sufficient.
Fedeli appreciates the requests made by Switzer and says that City Hall is already doing a significant amount of work around such issues, including the recent adoption of a Discrimination and Harassment policy as well as a Corporate hiring policy. Adding that the new hiring policy allows the city to hire the best person for the job versus targeting certain demographics.
The city also introduced the new ‘Fair Play’ policy, which has a code of conduct and Fedeli says a policy that everyone is required to adhere to when using any of the city’s facilities.