The Calgary Police Service has released the names of the 15 people named to its anti-racism action committee.
The committee, which was announced on Monday, is expected to start work on March 1. On Monday, police said they couldn’t announce the names of the committee members because they hadn’t all been notified yet.
Of the roughly 215 people who applied, these are the ones appointed to the committee:
- Dr. Fouzia Usman is an equity, diversity, and inclusion educational consultant at the University of Calgary. As a self-identified woman of colour with lived experiences of racism, she has spent almost two decades working in the areas of social justice and anti-oppression. She has also worked with students (Canadian and international) to develop their understanding of systemic racism and the necessary work to shift toward a more inclusive and anti-racist society.
- Shauna Porter is the chief executive officer of Upper House Agency. She is an organizational behaviour and culture consultant that creates policies and workshops with an anti-racism lens. Porter is the CEO of the AllThingsBossy Brand, a business service and event planning company that is dedicated to Black women and girls that fosters mentorship, personal development, excellence, and entrepreneurship. She is also the founding president of Let’s Be Human, a non-profit organization committed to serving Calgary’s homeless population with a focus on mental health and wellness. Porter is a self-identified Black female activist.
- Holly Wong is the president of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers’ western chapter. She has experienced racism personally and professionally, and brings that experience to her work. She is a longtime community volunteer.
- Rishi Nager is the news director for the Calgary Multicultural Broadcasting Corporation and is a published author on the topic of racism. He is also a member of the University of Calgary Senate. He has lived and professional experience with racism and understands a range of civil and human rights issues, including on the historical origins of systemic racism.
- Kim Kakakaway is a Cree and Saulteaux First Nations woman from Red Pheasant First Nation. She has worked with and for Indigenous communities across North America and has been an advocate for social justice and change. Kakakaway has over 20 years of experience in working with vulnerable youth and young adults and works towards the inclusion of Indigenous values and practices within oppressive systems. She is educated in family counselling and is trained to provide both trauma-informed care practices and harm-reduction principles to front-line staff. Kakakaway has witnessed racial discrimination and profiling and is dedicated to reducing racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
- Giftii Girma is a strategic diversity specialist and associate pastor at Journey Church and a community mental health broker with Action Dignity. She was a founding member of Ernst & Young Calgary’s Black Professional Network and works closely with the East African community through her work with Excel Family & Youth Society in Calgary.
- Adam Massiah is a recent Mount Royal University graduate, a community leader and an activist for anti-racism initiatives who currently chairs the United Black People’s Allyship (UBPA). Massiah has devoted his time to raising awareness and addressing systemic racism in Calgary, making him a prominent figure in the events dedicated to fighting for equality, diversity and inclusion. While currently employed within city hall as a community relations adviser, Massiah also pursues his role in the local music recording industry as an entrepreneur and musician.
- Eddie Richardson III has spent his life as a coach and mentor to racialized minority youth through sport. He is an active community member and works closely with KidSPORT Calgary, Alberta Basketball and many partners in the private sector to support BIPOC youth throughout their student athlete journey from as young as five years old. He is passionate about inspiring participation from BIPOC youth and their families for the betterment of community.
- Darren Lund is a professor at the University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education. He brings substantial academic expertise on social justice and ensuring diversity and inclusion in schools, agencies and communities. In 2008, he was named the grand marshall of Calgary’s Pride Parade. He has been a keynote speaker and presented at over 350 meetings and conferences on equity and human rights issues.
- Tyson Bankert has worked on anti-racism and social justice issues ranging from youth in care to promoting leadership and good citizenship. He is educated in criminal justice and has extensive experience in community development and engagement at the neighbourhood level.
- Adanech Sahilie is the founder of the Immigrant Outreach Society and has advocated for Black, marginalized communities and essential workers. She has been a facilitator with Action Dignity and has been an addictions case worker.
- Walter MacDonald White Bear has used music and storytelling to work with Indigenous youth and help them find their identity and their path. Currently, he is the cultural adviser with Alberta Justice at the Calgary Correction Centre. He has extensive involvement with community-based, non-profit organizations Education and Justice Circles.
- Inez Ashworth is a leader in inclusion, diversity and equity. She has also been part of many equity, diversity and inclusion advisory councils and sits on several steering committees sharing best practices to advance this cause both in our communities and organizations. She is an active board member, and she leads the Calgary Ambassador’s group for Pride at Work Canada.
- Lissy Snowden is a registered social worker and therapeutic access coach. She has extensive experience facilitating diverse groups to create action plans that support sustainable, long-term changes for vulnerable children, youth and families in Calgary. Snowden currently sits on the social work program advisory committee at Mount Royal University and has also initiated and administrates an online group called Investing in Anti-Racism that consists of over 3,000 members.
- Stephen Shirt is a proud member of the Kainai First Nation, part of Treaty 7. He works with Legal Aid Alberta as an Indigenous courthouse navigator to help Indigenous men, women and families overcome barriers. He has interned with Correctional Service Canada and worked at the Native Counselling Services of Alberta.
CPS said the criteria for committee members included:
- Lived experience of racism and/or professional, academic or cultural expertise in anti-racism related work
- Demonstrated ability to develop and maintain strong collaborative relationships
- Strong understanding of a range of human and civil rights issues and the historical origins of systemic racism
- An openness to supporting people and communities towards meaningful, positive change
- Preferably personal and/or professional community connections that can inform the committee’s work
“We are very excited to get to work with this committee and start moving forward on addressing the concerns raised by members of our community this past summer,” committee co-lead Acting Insp. Avril Martin said.
“We are confident that the group will bring together the diverse perspectives, skills and community connections we need to create meaningful change.”
The organization Defund2Fund said Thursday evening it was pleased so see so many people of colour included in in the police service’s list, including a high number of Black and Indigenous people.
“It really showed that there’s a degree of priority for the most effective. And that’s a pretty powerful statement,” Courtney Walcott said.
Walcott took issue with the CPS’ level of transparency through the committee assignment process, and said he hopes once the committee starts meeting, the events and decisions of those meetings will be more available to the public.
“Looking at the list itself, it does provide a degree of expectations of efficiency in this year,” he said.
“To see some familiar faces on this list was very promising.”
Walcott said the process doesn’t come without its concerns though, and Defund2Fund is trying to be optimistic that the committee will bring tangible change.
“There’s a lot of doubt, and there’s a history of this work failing and there’s a history of this work being lip-service,” he said.
“I can’t truly walk away from anything saying that I expect it to work and that I’m going to assume that these people have done their homework. However, I will never shut the door on it.
“If we can keep collaborating, then this can go well. But if it keeps going through the barriers and veil of secrecy we’ve even seen this week — we need to make sure that those barriers come down.”
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.