Peel Region has taken a vow to end anti-Black racism in Canada, joining more than 500 communities and businesses in taking a pledge through the BlackNorth Initiative.
Marlon Hylton, the founder and CEO of Etobicoke law firm and technology company INNOV-8, appeared as a virtual delegate at Regional Council May 27 to appeal to councillors for their support.
Hylton called anti-Black racism a “critical issue” in Peel and thanked Regional Council for being a key stakeholder in their work to combat the problem through the BlackNorth Initiative.
“We need you to make material change,” Hylton said. “This is a call to action to help remove barriers for the Black community.”
The BlackNorth Initiative was created by Bay Street broker Wes Hall in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year. Hall, despite his Rosedale estate with a Ferrari in the garage, had grown tired of his identity questioned because of the colour of his skin and launched the program to remove barriers to progress.
Those systematic barriers are still found in housing, education, justice and policing and in the corporate world, where people of colour face significant obstacles to advancement.
The Initiative provides a framework for organizations to take “concrete steps” with “concrete programs,” said Hylton, adding that peer-to-peer programs and workshops, mentorships and joint projects, as well as effort to reform police, form just a part of the services available.
The BlackNorth Initiative is especially relevant in Peel, with nearly 117,000 residents identifying as Black. Two-thirds of that number live in Brampton, which has 28 per cent of the GTA’s Black population.
“What brings everything together is community,” Hylton said.
The BlackNorth Initiative pledge is:
1.We will increase our efforts to make our workplaces trusting places to have complex, and sometimes difficult conversations about anti-Black systemic racism and ensure that no barriers exist to prevent Black employees from advancing within the company.
2.We will implement or expand unconscious bias and anti-racism education.
3. We will share best – and unsuccessful – practices.
4. We will create and share strategic inclusion and diversity plans with our board of directors.
5. We will use our resources to work with members of the Black community through the BlackNorth Initiative.
6. We will engage Canada’s corporate governance framework.
7. We will create the conditions for success.
The motion passed unanimously.