We're so thrilled to be working with Artist Jae Sterling on the #YouBelongInCHV Art Bench Program launching at The Crescent Moon Festival, Feb 12 - 14, 2021. The Crescent Moon Festival is a grassroots small-works art festival in Crescent Heights Village Calgary that pairs local artists with organizations that promote, support and celebrate diversity, inclusion and equality.
This year, they will light up 10 art benches throughout the BIA for socially-distanced, self-guided tours all weekend. This event will be marketed as part of the city-wide Chinook Blast Festival in February.
DONATIONS during February 2021: Be sure to check out and support Jae's work. Any donations we get during the month of February will be given directly to Jae for his phenomenal work.
You Belong Bench Artist
Jae Sterling is a multidisciplinary artist and founding member of the SANSFUCCS collective. A musician at heart, he has also extended his art form over the years to include painting (acrylic & oil), digital design, mixed media, and writing. Through his early years in Kingston, Jamaica to the landscapes of North America, Jae spent the past few years developing his artistry by weaving his experiences growing up in Jamaica, South Florida, and coming into adulthood In Canada into all his projects. In 2020, Sterling embarked on an ambitious, year-long multimedia exhibition, Riding Horses With White Men (RHWWM). This exhibition is currently on a cross Canada. Jae was recently commissioned to paint a 3000 square foot mural, titled The Guide & Protector, in Calgary’s Chinatown, celebrating Black lives, making him the city’s first Black male solo muralist.
Jae is working with the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation on his You Belong Art Bench.
We're looking for four BIPOC Canadian Artists who draw to help us create the second edition of Race Issues (COVID-19 racial microaggressions theme). Each artist will get paid $500 for creating 10 comic memes. If you are interested, please email us with information about you, your work and portfolio and why you want to take part in this project.
Finalized artists will be selected and contacted by end of February. Please use the form attached or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Artist fees come directly from our donations, therefore we can offer $500 per artist. Thank you to everyone for their interest.
Two of our team members (Courtney Walcott and Iman Bukhari) recently had the opportunity to complete an online workshop in partnership with Alberta's Teacher's Association on how educators can talk to their students of race and racism in a classroom setting. The workshop discussed:
Did you miss our free Cultural Competency Virtual Fair during September 2020 for Alberta Culture Days? No problem. We recorded the sessions for this! This interactive fair will help folks of all ages gain insight into, appreciate and interact with a few different cultures and belief systems they might not normally have a chance to connect with.
This fair was funded in part by Government of Alberta for Culture Days 2020
The Defund2Fund Coalition is a diverse collection of Calgarians - made up of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, Non-People of Colour and 2SLGBTQ+ organizations and individuals - who share a vision of a more resilient, more humane Calgary.
We call on Calgary City Council to reallocate funding from the Calgary Police Service (CPS) budget to communities.
Our coalition is seeking a 30% reduction to the CPS budget, to be reallocated throughout our communities, to rebuild trust, and to rectify systemic barriers in the financial capacity of Black, Indigenous, other racialized communities and 2SLGBTQ+ people. Reallocation of a portion of the CPS budget is supported by CPS. Chief Mark Neufeld told Calgary City Council that, should they reduce police responsibilities, “then we can certainly divert the dollars.”
We couldn’t agree more. Here are the facts:
Please sign our petition and follow as we fight together for a more resilient Calgary.
Defund YYC – Black Lives Matter YYC - Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation – YYC Black Town Hall – The United Black People’s Allyship Movement – The Black and Indigenous Alliance AB – The Colour Factor – RAAR - Rural Alberta Against Racism – Sankofa Calgary – Black People United – Blackfalds Against Racism – Vermillion Unites for Equality – Canadian Voices Against Racism - RDAR, Red Deer Against Racism - Project Calgary - VOICES YYC
What is proactive policing?
While reactive and traditional policing is the act of responding to a crime after it’s been committed, proactive policing is a method of seeking out and deterring crime before it occurs through police presence and show of force. A commonly cited example of proactive policing is “stop-and-frisk”, which is the practice of detaining, questioning and/or searching any civilian on the street for weapons or other contraband. Proactive policing is also the practice of increasing police presence in certain areas to send a message to the public - we are here and we are watching you. Proactive policing relies on the assumption of potential guilt, which is contrary to one of our most basic democratic principles of justice -- that citizens are innocent until proven guilty.
Does it work?
It’s hard to say. It might, but not without significant consequences.
A recent opinion piece on CNN from an American law enforcement analyst and retired FBI agent who mostly worked in New York City stated that “studies [on proactive policing] have provided evidence they can prevent or reduce crime.” Yet, an analysis by the Washington Post found that, while major felonies declined in New York City from 2002 through 2013 (when stop-and-frisk was implemented by the mayor), the reduction did not correspond to the increase in stops by police. According to Washington Post, “crime has continued to fall since a federal judge deemed the practice an unconstitutional violation of civil rights in 2013.”
An analysis by the New York City Civil Liberties Union showed that, at the height of stop-and-frisk in NYC in 2011, over 685,000 citizens were stopped. Nearly 9 out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent. And racialized people continue to be the overwhelming target of this practice.
What are the consequences in the Calgary context?
A proactive policing approach in Calgary would see an increase in patrols in high-crime areas like downtown and the northeast -- where there is a high percentage of racialized and/or marginalized people, many of whom are criminalised and excluded from participation in high paying jobs. This will inevitably lead to an increase in racial profiling of innocent civilians, and erode any sense of trust and community belonging amongst those civilians. Increased police presence and force sends a clear message to these communities, and especially impressionable youth, that there is something wrong with them and they do not belong here. When people feel ostracized from the community, or that they don’t belong there, they lose any sense of responsibility to that community, including keeping it safe. Why would anyone be concerned with a community that is actively telling them they are unwelcome and under suspicion?
This will also add to the already highly disproportionate numbers of Indigenous and Black people in correctional facilities. The initial instance of incarceration often leads to cyclical involvement in the justice system and extreme social inequality. Regardless of the work one has done to make up for a past crime, that criminal record will be a constant barrier to employment, housing, education and other necessities to lift oneself out of this cycle. Ongoing probation continues to send a message to criminalized people: we do not trust you. Add on increased police presence to this cycle and the message is clear: you are not to be trusted. So, why would people are told they are criminals trust the very people who keep telling them they are criminal?
Why does crime happen in the first place?
Trauma and poverty are inextricably linked. Trauma, especially during childhood, changes the way one’s brain is wired. According to brain science, without positive interventions, this causes the brain to continue exhibiting those fight-or-flight responses which greatly increases the likelihood of criminal behaviour as an individual ages. Poverty and unemployment are also strong indicators of incarceration rates.
Racism and poverty are forms of trauma, as are negative interactions with law enforcement, especially when they are unwarranted. If increased policing results in increased trauma, it will inevitably lead to an increase in crime. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What’s the alternative?
We can effectively reduce and prevent crime without negative long-term consequences by addressing the root causes of crime such as poverty, unemployment, lack of belonging and trauma. It’s not only the more humane and just thing to do, it will actually lead to a more prosperous Calgary for all, and increased trust and engagement with police.
A percentage of the police budget must be reallocated to social programs that address the root causes of crime through an anti-racist, trauma-informed lens, rather than continuing to increase funding to the never-ending cycle of the justice system and agencies that don’t actively address systemic and interpersonal racism on a daily and operational basis.
This approach is proven to work: for example, Glasgow, Scotland's most populous city, lowered its murder rate by 50% through "smart law enforcement" combined with "programs targeted to youth, family health and other services in problem places."
This may mean that the City of Calgary needs to look at new organizations, lead by people with lived experience of, and expertise in racism, for this movement to be effective. It will be a process, rather than an overnight phenomenon. But it is necessary for the health and wellbeing of all citizens in Calgary. We know that criminalizing people does not work in the long term and “proactive policing” sends a message that certain people and certain areas of the city are not to be trusted. Let’s move Calgary forward and use a modern approach to policing that builds respect and resilience into the community we all call home.
His Worship Mayor Naheed Nenshi and The City of Calgary Councillors,
Thank you for hosting the public hearing on systemic racism on July 7 - 9, 2020. Although discussing racism is often uncomfortable, painful and re-traumatizing, we greatly appreciate the attention paid to this critical conversation and are awaiting the next steps.
Our team watched the recording of the hearing, in addition the livestream, and went through the written submissions to provide you with data based on the speakers’ stories. Please note these are initial estimates based on both the livestream and written submissions. In the graph below, the number represents the total number of people who stated their concerns during their presentation, as well as the percentage of times the concerns were mentioned.
As illustrated in the graphs above, an overwhelming number of participants had concerns about systemic racism in the Calgary Police Service. There were also specific key issues mentioned within each broad concern, including:
Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation
Did you know that Calgary police officers shot and killed more people in 2018 than any other city in Canada? Alarmingly, this was also more than in either Chicago or New York, the two largest police departments in the US.
This is not just an American problem.
This past week, Calgary City Council heard from over 150 Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) who detailed countless incidents of abuse, mistreatment and discrimination at the hands of Calgary police. The trauma caused by law enforcement was undeniable on their faces and in their voices as they courageously shared their stories in hopes of meaningful change.
Above the Law is a new documentary on CBC that examines three cases of police violence in Calgary. The film clearly illustrates how Calgary Police have both taken and ruined the lives of so many Calgarians. This has a wide-reaching impact on not just their loved ones, but their communities as well.
We know that police brutality disproportionately impacts the BIPOC community. Yet, Calgary police are not mandated to collect race-based data which significantly limits their accountability. Their budget is nearly 10 times that of social services and affordable housing combined, despite the fact that these types of programs are proven to address the root causes of crime more effectively and humanely. It’s also more cost-effective, enabling your tax dollars to be reallocated to other important services.
Of the 15,963 contacts with the public recorded by Calgary police in 2018:
Police are not trauma counsellors, social workers or mental health practitioners. We’re recommending The City puts out a request for proposals from the BIPOC community for culturally specific social services that can address the root causes of crime related to homelessness, mental health and poverty. A percentage of the Calgary police budget should be reallocated to the selected proposal(s).
YOU can help make Calgary safer for not just the BIPOC community, but all Calgarians who’ve experienced police brutality. Share this documentary with the hashtag #DefundCPS to spread the word so that the defunding movement in Calgary is unignorable.
DefundCPS by Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation
In 2018, 72% of interactions with Calgary Police were related to disorder (unruly behaviour) and/or vulnerable persons. Another 16% were related to drug use. This means that almost 90% of interactions with Calgary Police are directly related to social issues such as homelessness, poverty, mental health challenges and substance use disorders – often a result of untreated trauma.
Police officers are trained to deal with violence and danger to the public. They are not trained to be trauma counsellors or social workers. Policing is not a preventative measure but rather a reaction to a crime that has already been committed.
Black and Indigenous people are disproportionately targeted and impacted by the justice system, including policing. Many don’t feel safe calling police when they’re in danger because the police represent a greater threat to their safety, and possibly their lives.
Where did the phrase “defund the police” come from?
The concept of defunding police originated with Black activists and can be found as far back as the 1960s. It has gained momentum and credibility today as smartphone cameras and social media have exposed police brutality to a wider audience.
What does it mean?
Defunding police means reallocating a percentage of that funding to social services that address the root causes of crime, like education, mental health supports, affordable housing, youth programs, accessible transit and employment opportunities.
The majority of Calgarians’ tax dollars go towards policing – the single largest line item in the City’s budget at $401 million – while affordable housing and social services receive a measly $42 million. Calgary Police have little accountability as City Council doesn’t require them to specify exactly what they are spending that money on. Police budgets should be capped and transparent so citizens know exactly what their tax dollars are spent on. Government should be involved in deciding what the money is spent on to increase accountability.
Read more: Defunding the police in a Canadian context (E-Learning Resource)
Why is it important?
Policing is a foundational example of systemic racism in Canada, meaning that the policies, practices and procedures carried out by police lead to disproportionately negative outcomes for BIPOC. We cannot claim to be a free and equitable society when BIPOC are constantly at risk of brutalization at the hands of those they pay taxes to for protection.
Experiencing mental illness, homelessness, poverty and trauma are not crimes. And, if we are truly innocent before proven guilty, using a counterfeit bill should not be a death sentence.
Government-mandated collection of race-based data in policing is essential to ensure that police are held accountable for effective and equitable crime prevention.
Will defunding the police really work?
Yes. Alternative response services already exist in many parts of the world, like Oregon, California and the United Kingdom. Crises are responded to by trained, demilitarized professionals with expertise in de-escalation and compassion so there isn’t fear of further violence.
Calgary already has several (currently underfunded) programs that provide successful and cost-effective alternatives to policing, such as:
Permanent supportive housing provided by Alpha House, CJHS and other agencies funded by the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF). CHF found that this type of housing decreases interactions with police by 72%,days spent in jail by 84% and court appearances by 59%.
Did you know? The City of Edmonton has already voted to redirect $11 million of the police budget to community services.
How can I help advocate for my tax dollars to be reallocated away from police?
Support, participate and donate to defunding movements in your city.
Email or call your local politicians to ask them to:
As part of Calgary’s commitment to anti-racism, The City of Calgary is holding a public consultation on systemic racism through a meeting of the Standing Policy Committee on Community and Protective Services which is scheduled to start on July 7 and 8, 2020.
How to register to present at the meeting:
Registration is now over. Thank you for registering.
How to view the agenda:
Here it is.
How to speak to the City Council committee:
Here is a document to help you prepare for speaking to City Council.
How to listen in, but not present:
We recommend all Calgarians to watch the council meeting live on the day of.
Sharing experiences of racism can be a really difficult and scary thing to do. Here are some tips that might help you stay grounded and present as you speak: