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Ottawa Cop Committee Hot on the Diversity Trail
Monday meeting will pursue outreach agenda

by Darry Marengere and Gilles Marchildon

THE old adage "Strike while the iron is hot" seems to be the current inspiration motivating members of the Ottawa-Carleton Police Liaison Committee for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Communities.

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No doubt they are bolstered by the fact that the new police chief Vince Bevan is continuing with the progressive approach adopted by his predecessor Brian Ford.  Yesterday, the LGBT Rainbow flag was hoisted in the main lobby of the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Police Service building on Elgin Street.  It will remain there during the entire Pride Week 2000 celebrations which wrap up next Sunday, July 16.

As part of Pride events, the Liaison Committee is hosting a special panel discussion this coming Monday evening, July 10.  Titled "Partners in Progress:  Bridging Diversity for the Future," the event will include speakers from the National Capital Alliance on Race Relations (NCARR), Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), the Aboriginal Women's Support Centre and other groups in the community.  The event, co-coordinated by Elizabeth Hall and Matt Lundie, takes place at the Region of Ottawa-Carleton Headquarters and will be followed by a reception.

"I support the work of Elizabeth Hall and Matt Lundie in helping build outreach to diverse communities," says Sandy Beeman, Chair of the Ottawa-Carleton Police Liaison Committee for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual And Transgender Communities.  He feels that the Liaison Committee's next step is to achieve a greater diversity within its ranks by conducting outreach to other minority groups within the LGBT community such as Aboriginals and people of colour.  Monday's panel discussion might even lead to the establishment of a Diversity Sub-Committee, the Liaison Committee chair told gayottawanow.com.

Beeman feels that the timing is particularly appropriate since the police are demonstrating openness and a willingness to move forward.

"We want to take the solid relationship we have with the police," Beeman stated, "and use that to build for the future."  He further indicated that by not doing outreach at this opportune time, the Liaison Committee risked not being successful in moving forward with this strategy.

In addition to the Rainbow flag raising at the Ottawa-Carleton Police headquarters, the cops will be in the Pride Parade on July 16.  In fact, this year is the third consecutive one where the capital city's police has had a presence and the second year for Hull's police forces.

This mirrors what occurs in other large Canadian cities.  In this year's Pride celebrations in Toronto, it was only the first time local and Ontario Provincial Police participated in the parade.

In Vancouver's Pride parade, a full contingent of police, including the Chief and two Deputies, will once again march.  Pride is Vancouver's largest parade and, according to Sargeant Steve Sweeney from the Vancouver Police Department, "it's the only one we participate in."

For more information on the July 10 panel discussion on diversity in Ottawa, call (613) 236-1222, then 7001 and extension 5867.