Update: Following is a message released by the Town, signed by council members and senior staff. One councillor who chose not to sign the letter, Stuart McCormack, has said he will explain why Monday.
The recent death of George Floyd at the hands of members of the Minneapolis Police Department is reigniting a deeply rooted anger and unrest that is completely justified. We see this in the many protests rising up across the United States and Canada. This is provoking an important discussion that must not be overshadowed by violence.
We are taking this opportunity to condemn racism. If we are to find a place of peace and equality, there is no room for such hatred, not even in a subtle way.
We are calling upon the Niagara-on-the-Lake community to unite in understanding. We consider ourselves a kind and welcoming Town, but we are not immune to racism and discrimination. We must take time to listen to and understand the experiences of those who have been impacted by racism.
To our racialized community, we grieve with you, we sympathize with you, and we stand with you. We recognize that we may not fully comprehend the turmoil you feel, but we align with you in your fight against systemic racism and oppression.
As people in positions of authority, we recognize that it is more important than ever to use our platforms to elevate those without the same privileges and to call out racism as it happens. Perhaps more importantly, we must step away from our privilege and listen, exercise silence to make space for the voices of Black people and people of colour
This is a practice we aim to continue every day: listening earnestly to the stories of people who have experienced unimaginable hatred. It is only when we step back and listen that we can learn and grow our capacity for love and compassion. Please join us in helping to create an environment upon which we can all exist in peace, as equals.