Black Planners July 30th meeting with OPPI

On July 30th, 2020 members of the Black Planning Project joined members of the Ontario Professional Planning Institute (OPPI) staff and Council for a facilitated session on addressing anti-Black racism in the planning profession. Discussion points from this session, contents of the Open Letter to OPPI’s Statement on Systemic Racism, the ongoing dialogue between the Black Planning Project, and amongst the OPPI, will combine to form a report to the OPPI Council meeting scheduled for September 15th, 2020. This report will include a summary chart that lists proposed actions, steps, and activities, timelines and resources (human and financial), and how these items are tied to OPPI’s mandate and strategic goals.

The Open Letter, dated June 12th, 2020 and signed by 124 planners, affiliated professionals, and planning students, called for conversations with the OPPI to implement practices that confront systemic anti-Black racism. The session on July 30th dived deeper into the Letter’s topics; ideas shared by the Black planners include to:

  • open pathways for more Black people to access accredited planning education, such as access to funding to support their recruitment and retention in professional programs;

  • support internship programs for emerging and early career Black planners;

  • assist planning organizations to support the fair mobility of Black planners to be hired and promoted, free of the anti-Black bias that sees Black planners overlooked;

  • support the networking of planning professionals who address anti-Black racism and systemic inequalities; and

  • integrate lessons and conversations on systemic historic and present-day anti-Black racism, Black people, and Black led innovation as part of regular planning education for planning students, Continuous Professional Learning, and other OPPI programming.

Members of the Black Planning Project who attended the facilitated meeting and have been engaged with the OPPI throughout this process are excited by steps taken to address anti-Black practices that have harmed Black planners and communities. We are further enthused that President Justine Giancola will be speaking to this work at the OPPI AGM on October 7th, 2020, through her President’s report to the membership.

Our short-term goals include the creation of a Task Force within OPPI made up of Black and non-Black planners and community members. This Task Force would support goals to guide the delivery of programming and changes implemented to combat systemic anti-Black racism and improve the professional capacity of the OPPI and planning community to acknowledge the human rights of Black peoples.

The Black Planning Project wants to hear from you. Please fill out this survey to provide your feedback. What are some things that should be prioritized and accomplished over the next year? Who are some stakeholders that we could engage throughout this process?

Planners who attended the session on July 23rd, on behalf of the Black Planning Project, include: Abigail Moriah, Francis Kwashie, Habon Ali, Nicole Hanson, Cheryll Case, Jamilla Mohamud, Keisha St. Louis-McBurnie, Sam Carter-Shamai, and Open Letter co-writer, Dr. Luisa Sotomayor. Members of the OPPI staff in attendance include: Executive Director Susan Wiggins, Stephania Panini, Rupendra Pant, and Ryan DesRoches; members of the OPPI Council include: President Justine Giancola, Eldon Theodore, and Calvin Brook. OPPI’s facilitator, Dr. Leela Viswanathan led the session and is drafting the report to be delivered to the OPPI Council on September 15th.

Prepared by Cheryll Case on behalf of the Black Planning Project

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