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Kingston welcomes diversity, equity and inclusion manager

Photo by Rick Couper.

The City of Kingston is welcoming a new Manager of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) after initially approving the position in February.

Muhammad Ahsan will join the city of Kingston working alongside a number of departments to help promote an inclusive and diverse workplace. 

Ahsan says one of the most important parts of his job is getting everyone to accept change is needed.

“The biggest challenge that every organization in Canada is facing is that we are still struggling with the acceptance that there is a need for change,” he said.

“So, the first thing this committee will do is to identify those areas that need change.”

He adds that he wants Kingston to be a safe and nurturing environment for people of all ethnicities, incomes, abilities, cultural backgrounds, age, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Ahsan, who currently lives in Winnipeg, says he’s been to Kingston and witnessed its diversity and thinks it’s important that city systems and policies represent that.

“The people I’ve met on the street they were really, really welcoming. So, I think that welcomeness of the general population should also reflect in the systems and policies and procedures of organizations,” Ahsan said.

Before joining the city of Kingston, Ahsan worked with Manitoba Start, a program for newcomers and immigrants, as a diversity and inclusion facilitator and career coach. 

In this role, Ahsan worked with corporations and organizations to review their policies and procedures in order to have them align more with equity, diversity and inclusion.

In Kingston, alongside an EDI committee, Ahsan will develop, coordinate and implement initiatives to do so, as well as acting as an advisor to senior staff in the city to help identify and dismantle systemic racism and oppression at all levels. 

In a news release, the city says Ahsan and the committee’s mandate is to “provide guidance to staff and council of the City of Kingston in the development of policies, initiatives and programs aimed at reducing barriers in the workplace at the city of Kingston and fostering diversity and inclusion in all areas of the organization.”

The EDI committee is made up of a diverse group of community organization representatives and citizens in Kingston who will work to ensure city of Kingston corporate services, policy and programs support and represent the diverse population of Kingston.

The committee will include Elsabe Falkson, Zermaan Khan, Charan Krishnaswamy, V. Olephia Rigault, Manuela Rodriguez-Bowen, Vanessa Gerasimow, Sunita Gupta, Oliver Hill and Hal Holt, after being approved by council in June. 

They will hold their inaugural meeting in August.

Owen Fullerton is a reporter with the Canadian Local Journalism Initiative.

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