The WIC initiative is a partnership between the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) and the Government of Alberta to support municipal governments to be leaders in the implementation of policies and practices that create and maintain welcoming and inclusive communities in Alberta.
What is a Welcoming and Inclusive Community?
A Welcoming and Inclusive Community is one that is free from discrimination, where all residents are able to participate fully in all aspects of the social, political, cultural and economic life of the community.
Why should my municipality get involved?
Municipal governments function at the most practical level and are directly involved in the lives of their residents. Municipalities are an ideal level of government to develop policies, programs and strategies that celebrate the community’s diversity, and take meaningful action toward eliminating racism and discrimination. The costs of not acting can include:
- Increased social conflict and loss in sense of belonging;
- Failure to meet municipal mandate to serve all residents;
- Decreased participation of diverse groups in municipal affairs, including voter turnout;
- Lower tax revenues as a result of under-utilized skills of newcomers and other residents that experience discrimination;
- Missed opportunities to increase volunteerism, productivity, creativity, and innovation;
- Devaluation of municipal values of respect, diversity, and equality;
- Missed opportunity to be a world class community;
- And more…
What are the benefits of being a welcoming and inclusive community?
WIC initiatives contribute to all dimensions of municipal sustainability:
- Social: WICs experience an increased sense of cohesiveness and belonging. National and international events demonstrate the extent of violence that can result from racial and cultural tensions. When people feel welcome and are involved in their community, safety and security are enhanced.
- Culture: Municipalities that embrace and celebrate their diversity are richer through the creation of cultural festivals, events and other unique attractions.
- Economic: As municipalities struggle with attracting business and talent, a WIC limits barriers for marginalized residents to participate in the workforce and/or start new businesses in the community. A WIC may enjoy a competitive advantage over other communities due to a positive reputation that can lead to greater attraction and retention of visitors, migrants and newcomers.
- Environment: Municipalities rely on citizens and business to help protect the environment whether it is conserving water, recycling or reducing energy use. WIC initiatives such as plain language in communications or including ethnocultural communities on local boards and initiatives will help ensure that all citizens understand and contribute towards environmental goals.
- Governance: Municipalities earn the trust, loyalty, and respect of employees and citizens by demonstrating a commitment to access, equity, inclusion and justice for all. Improved service delivery, better planning integration, fewer complaints, and reduced vulnerability to liability in the event of discrimination or harassment complaints, are all potential benefits resulting from WIC initiatives.
How can AUMA support my municipality?
AUMA’s WIC Initiative offers online toolkits, guides and resources to support municipal inclusion efforts in strategic planning, performance measurement, and engagement with diverse communities.
In addition, the WIC Initiative hosts webinars, workshops, and conferences to support the learning needs of municipalities. Depending on financial capacity, the WIC Initiative may also offer customized training in local communities. Lastly, AUMA can offer one-on-one guidance for municipal staff and elected officials that are seeking assistance to become a more welcoming and inclusive community.
To stay up to date, subscribe to AUMA’s free online Digest newsletter and for more detailed information, subscribe to the WIC initiative’s email network, which shares regular updates on tools, funding, and upcoming events from around the inclusion sector. If you would to join the WIC network, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Past webinar videos are also available on AUMA’s YouTube channel. To learn more about the WIC Initiative, please contact us.
Join the Canadian Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities
If your municipality wants to make a public commitment to be welcoming and inclusive, consider joining the Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities (CIM), which is a national initiative sponsored by the Canadian Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). When municipalities become members of CIM, they join a network of municipalities that are seeking to improve policies and practices to counter racism, discrimination, exclusion and intolerance.
As of May 2019, 77 municipalities across Canada have joined the network including the following from Alberta:
- Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (2006)
- City of Calgary (2006)
- City of Grande Prairie (2006)
- City of Edmonton (2006)
- Town of Drayton Valley (2006)
- City of Brooks (2007)
- City of Lethbridge (2007)
- City of St. Albert (2008)
- Town of Innisfail (2008)
- City of Wetaskiwin (2010)
- Town of Fort Macleod (2011)
- Town of Provost (2011)
- Town of Devon (2012)
- City of Red Deer (2013)
- City of Medicine Hat (2014)
- Town of Cochrane (2015)
- Strathcona County (2017)
Joining the Coalition is free. To join, the municipal council must pass a resolution to sign the Declaration of CIM that states the municipality’s support of Ten Common Commitments. By joining, the municipality will develop and carry out an action plan to achieve the Commitments.
Municipalities are encouraged to review the CIM website or read the CIM Toolkit, which answers many questions on why and how to join the Coalition.
*The change in name from the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination to the Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities took place on May 16, 2019.