PEMBROKE -- The city of Pembroke has launched a new diversity, equity, and inclusion survey, asking residents for first-hand experience dealing with racism and discrimination.

BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ members of the community are invited to share personal experiences until June 7 online.

"We’ve already had 70 responses, I truly think that’s remarkable," says city councillor Christine Reavie, who is also a member of the Diversity Advisory Committee. "It’s got anonymity attached to it. People can feel safe to share their stories. That’s really what we’re looking for."

Pembroke’s new Diversity Advisory Committee was formed after an Asian grandmother was attack in August 2020, when she was called racial slurs and had a rock thrown at her face. She was treated in hospital.

"Most of my experiences (with racism) happened when I was a child in the 60s and 70s," says Garland Wong, a retired lifelong resident of Pembroke and co-chair of the new committee. "When I used to ask my parents, when I was being called names or rocks being thrown at me, I didn’t know why."

"So when that situation happened last October, it woke me up to say that things have not changed," says Wong.

"There is a greater problem, but I think not as severe as what happened last fall," questions Suli Adams, the other co-chair of the Diversity Advisory Committee.

Adams was born in Kenya and has lived in Pembroke for over 30 years. She says she is lucky not to have experienced racism in Pembroke, but hears stories from her classes teaching English as a second language to youth. Together, Adams and Wong are two of the ten members of the Diversity Advisory Committee.

"If we are aware of all the broad issues, then we can really identify what are the issues and then the next step would be, why do they occur," Adams says of the survey, and the first step the committee has taken with the public. "And then based on that we can have an action plan to address them."

"Really what we’re looking for is, what is the extent of the issue in our community," says Reavie.

The survey asks questions such as how comfortable are you expressing your identity, which groups you associate with, and if and where have you experienced discrimination or racism.

"What’s unique to Pembroke, what is happening in our community," says Adams. "So once we can identify that, then we can come up with an appropriate action plan."