Good Ideas Matter: Advocate Diversity and inclusivity

I want Spruce Grove to be a welcoming and inviting place for everyone who visits, lives or works here. We have to work hard to be that place. While I see so many acts of kindness and see the good in so many people in our city, I am not naïve to understand that not everyone has a great experience simply because of their skin colour, religion, sexual orientation and race. I’ve heard from those who’ve had not-so-great experiences first-hand.

I’m aware that council is not representative of all groups in our community. It took until 2017 to elect three women to council at one time (we’ve only ever elected four women to council ever). It is my honour and responsibility to connect with groups that need that representation and ensure their voices are heard. It’s about listening and learning about their experiences and do what I can to bring initiatives forward that keep them safe from harm, allow them to express who they are without prejudice and feel they belong here in our city.

Erin Stevenson standing in the middle of the road in the pride crosswalk in front of City Hall in Spruce Grove

The Ideas

There are 3 sections- ideas for going forward, current initiatives in progress, and initiatives that have been implemented.

2021 Ideas Going Forward:

  • Start public conversation about Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) in Spruce Grove. Public engagement including education and awareness sessions.
  • Immediately begin work on the calls-to-action from the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Commissions’ recommendations that pertain to municipalities. This includes calls-to-action #3, #5, #17, #40, #43, #47, #55, #57, #75, #77, 87, 88. An example is call-to-action #43: We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples, governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.
  • Support the creation of a youth council and find ways to include youth in local government.
  • Create a Land acknowledgement for Spruce Grove. A land acknowledgement is an act of reconciliation that involves making a statement recognizing the traditional territory of the Indigenous people who called the land home before the arrival of settlers.
  • Find ways to work with neighbour First Nations to bring more education and awareness to our residents and acknowledge their history here on the settled land of Spruce Grove. 
  • Find ways to celebrate our growing diverse population of black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) in our community.
  • Audit all public city buildings, sidewalks, intersections and trails for accessibility concerns and fix any areas where there may be a barrier.
  • Ensure public meetings are accessible for the hearing and visually impaired.

Initiatives Currently In progress:

  • Support for our LGTBQ2S+ community with Pride initiatives such as the pride crosswalk, pride flags, participation in the GSA car parade, working with our GSA and more. *
  • Supporting more seniors housing development in the city, including a variety for those who have various care needs. As our populations ages, senior housing supports should be available here in the city.
  • Ongoing support for the ‘New Beginnings Indigenous Strategy’ presented to council in 2018.
  • Ongoing support for ‘Pathways home- 5-year strategy to end homelessness in Spruce Grove’ presented to council in 2018.

Initiatives that have been implemented:

  • Was ecstatic to see the success of the recruitment initiatives by the Spruce Grove Fire Department to recruit all-female firefighter candidates in the city to increase the number of women in the department.
  • In 2020, the City raised both the Treaty 6 and Metis flag, inviting our First Nations and Metis neighbours in the flag raising. The flags fly high at Jubilee Park.
  • In 2019, I made the motion at Council to bring in a conversion therapy ban bylaw and in 2020, Council passed this bylaw, signalling to our community that we support our LGTBQ1S+ community and this form abuse is not tolerated in our community.
  • At our very first council meeting in 2017, Council unanimously passed the first motion made to change our titles from Alderman to Councillor. The outdated and gendered title no longer reflected the make-up of our community, its leaders and the members of the 2017-2021 council. *
  • Was a strong supporter of the recommendation from our independent remuneration committee to provide parental leave for members of council. This initiative was a strong signal to our community that anyone, any gender and at any age is welcome to run for council and not have to choose between starting (or expanding) a family and representing the city.

A * denotes this idea was a part of my 2017 campaign platform and was happy to support and vote in favour. It does not mean I was responsible for it as it is a council decision to move any initiative forward.