The municipality is committed to addressing anti-Black Racism issues that still exist within the organization and across the region to help create safer and more inclusive communities and workplaces. In 2020, Regional Council asked for the development of an anti-Black racism action plan to acknowledge and address anti-Black racism related issues with respect to municipal government and service delivery. This past June, Regional Council endorsed the Anti-Black Racism Framework, which will guide the development of an Anti-Black Racism (ABR) Strategy and Action Plan.
Russel Brooks joined the municipality as the ABR Program Coordinator to support the work of the African Nova Scotian Affairs Integration Office (ANSAIO) as it leads the municipality in the development and implementation of the ABR Strategy and Action Plan.
We spoke to Russel to learn more about his passion for this important work and the goals he hopes to achieve through this initiative.
Q: When did you begin your role as ABR Program Coordinator and what attracted you to this position?
A: I began my role with the municipality as the Anti-Black Racism Program Coordinator in April 2021. This opportunity appealed to me because it put me in a position to be involved in meaningful work and pursuing necessary change.
Q: How does your previous experience apply to your current role as ABR Program Coordinator?
A: In the past I’ve had a variety of opportunities, as a tutor, mentor and advocate for people of African descent both in Halifax and Ontario. This, along with my lived experience encountering barriers throughout my own life, helped me understand the importance of this role and the influence it can have not only within the municipality, but within the community at large.
Q: What are some of the things you have been able to support in your role so far, and what goals do you hope to achieve?
A: To date we have been able to develop a framework that will shape the creation and implementation of the municipality’s Anti-Black Racism Strategy and Action Plan that was endorsed by Regional Council in June. I’ve also had the privilege of collaborating with other employees who are Black and/or are of African descent across the organization to bring forward recommendations and strategic initiatives that address several issues of anti-Black racism that impact municipal employees. Facilitating corporate training with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion/ANSAIO team has also given me an opportunity to support this work and make connections with all business units throughout the municipality.
As for goals, one of the focuses is to increase the awareness around the importance of this work. With the increase in awareness I hope to see a deeper understanding of these issues and how addressing them will result in a better municipality both for employees and citizens.
Through the implementation of the Anti-Black Racism Strategy and Action Plan, the goal is to see a significant change in the experiences for Black people and people of African descent, both in our organization and our communities.
Q: What are some ways municipal employees can support ABR initiatives? Do you have any updates to share with employees related to the ABR Strategy and Action Plan?
A: Employees can go to halifax.ca for updates on current and upcoming initiatives related to anti-Black racism initiatives. Also, employees can continue to check the Employee Hub for any upcoming events, as ANSAIO will continue to create and provide learning opportunities for municipal employees. Employees can reach out directly via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.