Welcoming Week runs September 9-18
Guelph, Ont., September 12, 2022 –The City of Guelph is taking action to help make Guelph a community where everyone feels welcome.
Earlier this month, the City rolled out equity lens tools aimed at broadening staff’s views and understanding of how and where inequities or barriers exist as it works to create and deliver equitable services, policies, and programs for everyone in the Guelph community, including newcomers.
Guelph’s community plan, A United Vision, was updated earlier this year to include a new theme, We are community, which speaks to valuing Guelph’s diversity and creating equitable access to programs, services and opportunities in Guelph. This theme was developed by people who have lived experience with discrimination and speaks to a community aspiration to do and be better.
“As City employees, we’re not only part of the Guelph community but we also have the opportunity and a responsibility to help achieve this shared aspiration,” says Sara Sayyed, the City’s senior advisor on Equity, Anti-Racism and Indigenous Initiatives. “We’re making progress on our commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism by providing equitable access to programs, services, and opportunities in Guelph.”
Providing newcomers with information about City programs and services in their first language
The City’s five-year plan for strengthening communications and engagement includes a focus on equity and inclusion and making communications and engagement both reflective of and accessible to everyone in Guelph.
Packages with information about key City services like Guelph Transit, waste collection, recreation opportunities and library services have been translated into the top six newcomer languages (Tigrinya, Arabic, Nepalese, Spanish, Ukrainian and Dari) and are available at Welcoming Week events. The packages also include information about the Indigenous history of the land Guelph is situated on including a territorial acknowledgement which is one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action.
Following Welcoming Week, packages will be available on an ongoing basis at the ServiceGuelph counter, select Guelph Public Library branches, and through community organizations that support newcomers to Guelph.
The City has also updated website plugins to provide in-site translation for more of Guelph’s top newcomer languages and will continue adding more as they become available. The option to translate the website into available languages is available in the top menu bar on the City’s website.
Newcomers to Guelph who speak languages other than English can also depend on being able to do business with the City in person or by phone with the help of on-demand interpretation services that City employees can access as needed.
Working together to identify and tackle barriers to equity
The Guelph Lab, a collaboration of the University of Guelph’s Community Engaged Scholarship Institute in the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences and the City of Guelph, is another way the City is working to create more equity, including research into existing challenges to addressing inequity in City services and a community-led program to encourage newcomers to connect to their community through cycling.
“There’s some really exciting work happening through the Guelph Lab,” notes Jodie Sales, the City’s general manager of Strategy, Innovation and Intergovernmental Services. “We’re getting really great insights into what data and tools we need to better understand the needs of everyone in our community so we can deliver equitable services, especially around intersectional inequities.”