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Diversity disconnect makes appearance

Posted on January 24, 2018 by Taber Times

On the heels of the controversy swirling around MLA Dave Schneider’s recent comments about Indigenous people’s voting patterns and political engagement that angered a First Nations chief, a similar disconnect is being found further south on Highway 36.

In an effort to ensure the Taber Police Service is meeting the needs of groups of diversity within the community, a Diversity SWOT Analysis was recently completed gathering feedback from representatives of various groups the police service themselves handpicked.

What was a very noble intention by the Taber Police Service to never be static in the way it treats all of its citizenry by engaging minorities, all of the sudden turned into combative questions from one member of the police commission about said minority groups that were never posed by the Taber Police Service in its intent in the first place.

“Do those diversity groups want to be recognized as a specific diversity group, rather than a group that’s integrated into society?” questioned Coun. Joe Strojwas, one of two town council representatives on the TMPC. “Why would I stand in the middle of the street and put a sign up that I am whatever? Wouldn’t they get further in the world if they integrated and became part of the group, rather than a special diverse group?”

The two-day focus group workshop was conducted on Nov. 6-7, 2017, and included individuals from the Taber Equality Alliance, Filipino Society of Taber, the First Nations-Metis-Inuit (FNMI) community, and the Low German Mennonite community.

Just ask Taber and District Community Adult Learning Association how hard many Low German Mennonites are working to ‘get ‘further in the world’ by improving their English and reading skills. The TEA advocates Gay-Straight Alliances that are meant to bring people together of different sexual orientations for a greater understanding of each other in integration, yet has been met with plenty of disdain in Alberta conservative circles.

There are many hard-working Filipinos helping drive the southern Alberta economy in their integration, all while some are being taken advantage of with documented abuses of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Take a listen to last year’s Aboriginal Day and you would of heard of an elder blessing the ground that makes Canada great and all its citizenry.

“It was like they were pointing to themselves that they want to be acknowledged as being — and maybe it’s just the way that I interpret it — that they want to be acknowledged as a diverse group themselves. I was just wondering why they would want to be acknowledged as a separate group, and why they wouldn’t want to just blend in,” continued Stojwas as he veered off course from the intent of the focus group.

A missing and murdered Indigenous women inquiry calling for creation of a police task force to probe cold cases is asking for that integration that their cases are met with just as much dedication as others.

Language and cultural barriers exist when Low-German Mennonites first come to southern Alberta which the Taber Police Service recognize by reaching out in such a focus group.

Ask a school or family councillor just how easy it is to ‘integrate’ into mainstream society for people in the gay community.

Kudos to Taber Municipal Police Commission chairman Ken Holst for knowing what the real focus was of the focus group.

“Sometimes I think with some of those groups it’s society that maybe separates them moreso than (themselves),” said TMPC chair Ken Holst. “I know there’s some that do desire to be separated, but some through society — and I think that’s what they’re trying to guard themselves against is that the police service isn’t separating them, like sometimes society may wrongly separate them.”

Canada is a diverse place, full of all sorts of ethnicity, cultures, religions etc. It is part of what makes Canada great. Unfortunately, certain groups are over-represented as victims, in relation to being victims of crime, in Canada.

The Taber Police Service recognize that in building bridges to these groups and they should be commended for it. The no-holds barred findings in their report of both strengths and weaknesses show a high level of self awareness in their service delivery for public safety to everyone in their quest for self-improvement.

To borrow a phrase of ‘All Lives Matter,’ the Taber Police Service is showing just that by giving a voice to groups in their initiative.

Whether it wants to be acknowledged or not, there are many concrete examples both here in Taber and southern Alberta where that phrase has been spoken many a time while not being followed in practice.

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