Svens Telemaque stands on a picnic table to address the crowd during a Black Lives Matter rally in Nelson Mandela Park in Montreal in July 2016. John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette As Quebec holds a diversity and anti-discrimination forum Tuesday, a coalition of groups fighting discrimination announced it will be holding its own independent consultation into the matter without the government’s involvement.
At a news conference Tuesday morning, the Table de concertation contre le racisme systémique — which includes about 40 anti-racism groups — said it felt Quebec’s forum has been scaled back too far to be effective and that an alternative was needed to understand the gravity of the issue.
The coalition of groups said it hopes to hear first-hand from Quebecers who have struggled with systemic racism through consultations it will be holding in the near future. It hopes the hearings will help shed light on “the experience and consequences of racism and discrimination in all its forms.”
Tuesday’s one-day, government-led panel in Quebec is the watered-down version of what was first announced as a full-blown commission on systemic racism and discrimination in the province. On Tuesday, the group said the government “abandoned” the initial idea.
The government has said the forum will “focus on finding concrete solutions based on best practices.”
It will be divided into four plenary sessions on employment, training, francization and the fight against discrimination, during which speakers will present “best practices that can be adapted to the realities of every Quebec region.”
The provincial government has been criticized for watering down the idea after scrapping the initial concept and turning it into a forum on the value of diversity instead of addressing the issue head-on.
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