'Edmonton's next chapter': Sohi sworn in as mayor, calls for anti-racism strategy

Edmonton's new city council was sworn in on Oct. 26, marking a fresh start as nine new faces joined four incumbents around the council table.

"This is the beginning of Edmonton's next chapter. What we accomplish together will be the result of us working together," Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said during his speech at the swearing-in ceremony.

"You can succeed here, your businesses can thrive here, your families can grow here. And your council will work hard to make all of you proud of this place — our home."

Sohi also thanked Don Iveson for his leadership during his eight years as mayor, and the outgoing council, noting that they "weathered a storm no one could have anticipated."

Council met for its inaugural meeting following the ceremony, and Sohi immediately set the tone for the next four years, introducing a notice of motion directing city administration to work with the Anti-Racism Advisory Committee and the BIPOC community in a collaborative way to develop actionable items and a comprehensive strategy on anti-racism.

He said the strategy should:

  • Address hate-based violence and supports for communities experiencing hate and violence;
  • Champion anti-racist and anti-violence initiatives to the provincial and federal governments to secure resources and support, and advocate for legislative tools;
  • Work with partners to support and amplify anti-racist educational initiatives and responses.
Councillor Keren Tang, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, and Councillor Sarah Hamilton

Councillor Keren Tang, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, and Councillor Sarah Hamilton in council chambers for the inaugural meeting. (Mack Male/Flickr)

The logistics of calendars and seating arrangements, plus appointments to agencies and standing committees were also approved.

Between Oct. 26, 2021 and Feb. 28, 2023, councillors Tim Cartmell, Keren Tang, Michael Janz, and Jo-Anne Wright will sit on the community and public services committee. Councillors Sarah Hamilton, Aaron Paquette, Karen Principe, and Ashley Salvador will serve on the urban planning committee; and councillors Andrew Knack, Jennifer Rice, Erin Rutherford, and Anne Stevenson will sit on the executive committee. Remote participation will be allowed until the first quarter of 2022.

Councillors were visibly excited as each took the oath of office following a week of onboarding and training sessions. While council chambers and city hall had limited capacity in accordance with public health orders, Edmontonians were able to watch the ceremony on YouTube or on The Wall at the Stanley A. Milner Library.

They are back in orientation sessions next week, and it won't be long until Edmontonians get a sense of how the next four years might play out — council is expected to make a decision about the 2022 property tax levy in November.