On June 6, 2021, London was rocked to its core as three generations of the Afzaal family were killed in an act of hate and terror, rooted in Islamophobia.
The community was visibly shaken, and as the world watched, voices became loud and clear, demanding change from all levels of government.
Londoners rallied to make sure the family’s memory became one of hope and not hate. The city had to demonstrate collective action as the Afzaal family became known as Our London Family across the nation.
In July 2021, The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) quickly called on the Federal Government to convene a National Action Summit on Islamophobia. In advance of the Summit, the NCCM devised a list of 61 policy recommendations for all three levels of government. Seven of them are directed towards municipalities.
Within days of the terror attack, London city council endorsed an emergent motion to work with local communities and identify ways to end Islamophobia. The City brought together organizational people from various sectors, including police services, health care, and education groups to gain consensus and make commitments which led to the recommendations in A London for Everyone: An Action Plan to Disrupt Islamophobia which was unanimously endorsed by City of London Council on February 15, 2022.
With the steps in the action plan underway, London’s Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Framework was completed and unanimously endorsed by City Council on September 27, 2022.
Within the framework is an equity tool which offers an intentional way to consider the impact of the City’s work on equity-deserving groups and ensures an intentional identification of those who will be most impacted and removal of barriers to inclusion.
The framework directly aligns with the City of London’s mission to be a responsive and modern public service partner that fosters change to build a better London for all, and to inform every strategic area of focus, outcome, expected result and strategy.
On September 24, 2022 – just days before the framework was endorsed by Council – more than 200 members of the London community celebrated the grand opening of Our London Family basketball courts.
The project came together thanks to a generous $250,000 donation from Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), MLSE Foundation and the Toronto Raptors organization to improve a local basketball court in support of Our London Family. The location of the basketball courts were selected due in part to their proximity to the London Muslim Mosque.
Through a series of workshops, youth representatives from the Muslim community worked with the MLSE Foundation and the City to share their ideas for the courts' redesign and offered their suggestions to improve the space. The most noticeable improvement inspired by youths’ input is the court’s playing surface painted purple and green symbolic of Our London Family and support for the Muslim community. The court surface is also marked to align with the directions for Muslim prayer.
The project showcases the framework’s principles in action, and created an important new public space that highlights culture and community. The courts are a lasting impression that sport can unite people, and hate has no home in London.