‘We need to gain back trust’: Calgary police appoint anti-racism committee, with work to start next month

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In addition to fixing the image of police among people of colour, Nagar said he hopes to address a gap in services for non-English speakers and do away with street checks, which critics say disproportionately impact visible minorities.

Avril Martin, acting inspector with the Calgary Police Service and one of two police leads for the committee, said the service saw more than 200 applicants over the course of about a month.

A series of criteria were used for the selection, including having lived experience or professional experience related to racism and having an understanding of the history of systemic racism and civil rights issues, Martin said.

Applicants were not asked to self-identify, and as such police were unable to share a demographic breakdown of the committee.

“You’ll have academic, you’ll have professional, you’ll have those lived experiences. You’ll have a good, diverse representation,” Martin said. “Through (applicants) who did self-identify and through some intuition, I think we have a representation that is diverse and is representative of Calgary.”

In response to online criticism of white Calgarians being appointed to the committee, Martin said she believes it is necessary to include voices from diverse groups to keep the committee representative.

In discussing racism in Calgary, Nagar brought up a recent interview he conducted with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney on RED FM, where Kenney urged members of Calgary’s South Asian community to follow COVID-19 public-health guidelines. The remarks drew criticism from some who said the comments stigmatized people of colour and unfairly placed blame on them for the spread of the virus.

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