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'People want to battle racism': New anti-racism website launched

'Looking around, I see more people than we thought we would have here, so that is very encouraging,' says task force co-chair
Barrie Anti-Racism Task Force co-chair Esther Nkoli Enyolu speaks at the launch of the organization's new website, Tuesday night at city hall.

Barrie’s Anti-Racism Task Force held a gathering at city hall last night to celebrate the launch of their new website.

Formed by the City of Barrie in partnership with local police, the task force was formed to "help transition Barrie into an anti-racist city that intentionally addresses racism in all its forms."

Task force co-chair Cheryl Blondell-King told BarrieToday the launch was a success and will help the organization moving forward. 

“Looking around, I see more people than we thought we would have here, so that is very encouraging,” Blondell-King said. “It shows me that people want to battle racism in all its forms and have an interest in the different racialized communities within our community as a whole.”

Officials say the new website will serve as an educational centre for all things related to anti-racism, including effective library resources and where to find information on issues facing racialized communities.

On June 29, 2020, city council approved a motion, sponsored by Barrie police, to establish a task force in the fight against racism. A group of volunteers soon got to work with local police, school boards, community and municipal organizations, social services, businesses, labour and government agencies to create a stronger understanding of the needs of the city's racialized populations.

The task force currently has five members.

Barrie Mayor Alex Nuttall said he was happy to see the launch of an informative website.

“I have to give credit elsewhere as this plan was started by the previous council term," he said. "But as the current mayor, I can say this council now is 100 per cent on board.

“Our city is growing and we are seeing more people coming to live here who are new Canadians, looking for a beautiful city to raise their family," Nuttall added. "I’ve always felt that Barrie is a beautiful city, but we are becoming a more beautiful city because of this diversity.”

The task force says its goal is to bridge and promote a stronger, more positive understanding and representation of the city’s racialized groups.

Shanicka Edwards was on hand for Tuesday night's website launch and was vocal about the need for such an initiative prior to the task force being struck. Edwards runs Shak’s World Community Centre which, among other things, tries to bridge the gap between races through acceptance and education.

“I am happy that two years later we’re here at this point. That said, I really want to see something happen,” Edwards said. “I am very glad they have done their research and I am looking forward to seeing what becomes of it.”

A local company, Siva Creative Inc., provided the technology and people to help launch the new website. Co-founder Mallory Steele said the company recognized the role that everyone plays in fighting back against racism.

“Some of us are able to offer the gift of time, some can offer money. We recognized our ability to offer our services and technical expertise,” Steele said in a release. “At the core of our agency is a remarkably diverse team of experts, from a variety of cultural and identifiable backgrounds.

"Our members wanted to be a part of something good and worth advocating for," she added. "We figured we could ensure that the committee had access to high-quality resources and take some pressure off the council budget and taxpayer at the same time. We wanted to say thank you the best way we knew how.”