Working Together for Canadians

February 23-25, 2018 Montreal, Quebec

“Working Together for Canadians” was the theme for the meeting of the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security (CCRS), with the objective to reflect the interactive and forward-looking discussions between members and government officials. Mr. Marco Mendicino, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and Mr. Vincent Rigby, Associate Deputy Minister of Public Safety Canada continued their dialogue with members on current public safety and national security issues. They recognized the influential role of the Roundtable to help identify the right solutions to these challenges by promoting a clearer understanding of how communities are impacted by these security issues. Both Mr. Mendicino and Mr. Rigby took the opportunity to congratulate Dr. Gira Bhatt on her appointment as Vice-Chair of the CCRS.

Roundtable members were provided with the opportunity to see how the Community Resilience Fund at Public Safety supports community initiatives by arranging for them to tour and exchange with local community organizations. Members travelled to the SHERPA Centre housed in the Centre de santé et de services sociaux de la Montagne in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges area to examine with a team of researchers and case workers the lessons learned from interventions aimed at preventing radicalization to violence at the community level. The SHERPA Centre strives to ensure culturally-adapted health and social services are available to Quebec immigrants, including coordinating intervention resources through the Canada Practitioners Network for the Prevention of Radicalization and Extremist Violence. Members also liaised with Project SOMEONE on the use of social media education and multimedia materials to foster resilience and create alternative narratives in order to prevent hate speech and radicalization to violence. Members made clear linkages between the partnerships and initiatives being pursued by both of these organizations and the work that they are trying to achieve both as part of the CCRS and within their own communities.

Members focused on contributing to two major consultation sessions which sought to inform the development of national strategies: one aimed at combating human trafficking and another focused on countering radicalization to violence (CRV).

The session on human trafficking focused on capturing members’ feedback and recommendations on the way forward for the Government of Canada on the issue. One of the main takeaways for policymakers was the significant gap that exists in terms of public awareness on the complexity and scope of the issue of human trafficking in Canada. Based on members’ experience, the current level of understanding across communities is either very limited or non-existent. To mobilize Canadians on this issue, the Roundtable recommended more open discussions on concrete human trafficking cases in Canada. Doing so would, in their view, expose the prevalence of the issue and provide guidance on what to do when faced with a potential human trafficking situation, including how to report the problem. Members also advocated for additional resources to prevent, intervene and support victims of human trafficking.

Another key outcome from the consultation with the Roundtable on human trafficking is the priority areas they identified as requiring government attention. From improving collaboration and coordination between stakeholders, government and international bodies, to implementing stronger and longer penalties, and better equipping and protecting temporary workers, government officials developed a solid initial appreciation of what should form part of the national strategy.

CCRS members were further consulted on the draft questionnaire to be used for the online public consultation on CRV, which will be open to Canadians country-wide. Members outlined a number of  revisions they deemed essential in order to promote accessible and inclusive language. This led to questions being simplified and reshaped for clarity, as well as additional response options being included to better reflect Canada’s diversity. The questionnaire was also adjusted to reflect the importance raised by members for the government to support community-based action and to engage and build a network of key actors on the issue. Overall, members felt strongly about the fact that, moving forward, the government response on the issue of CRV needs to be more proactive and focused on building community resilience prior to a terrorist event taking place (e.g., by promoting interfaith dialogue).

The meeting in Montreal also provided an opportunity for the Department of Justice to continue the dialogue with Roundtable members on the Criminal Justice System Review to which they had recently been engaged as part of the consultative process. In addition to preliminary results, the Department of Justice offered initial thoughts on next steps based on their early analysis.

Looking at upcoming opportunities for engagement with the CCRS, Public Safety set the stage for members to participate in the forthcoming consultation regarding the modernization of the National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet.

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