Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, new council sworn in at Edmonton City Hall
Edmonton's new council was sworn in at a city hall ceremony Tuesday afternoon, with the new mayor making his "Edmonton for all" election slogan the theme of his inaugural speech.
Amarjeet Sohi started his address with a Treaty 6 land acknowledgement before applauding Edmontonians for electing what is widely considered the most diverse council in the city's history.
"Today, I am moved. Edmonton, look at who you have elected. A phenomenal, diverse group of people including eight women," Sohi said.
"This is what you have already accomplished by choosing an Edmonton for all of us. Be proud of what you have done. Look, this is Edmonton."
Sohi thanked Don Iveson for his eight years as mayor and said they bonded over the "city we both love."
The mayor also said he appreciated the work of the previous council.
Sohi acknowledged the challenging times he faces, saying he is grieving the 1,300 Edmontonians that have died during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said supporting people with addictions, "tackling" climate change and improving safety on city streets are some of his top priorities.
"Many of you are worried about your jobs, your businesses, and what kind of future your kids will have in this city," Sohi said.
"We see you, and we hear you, and I promise that we will always remain focused on you."
NEW COUNCIL DIVERSE, MOSTLY PROGRESSIVE
The Oct. 18 vote saw a record number of people of colour and women elected.
Sohi became the first person of colour elected mayor of Edmonton.
Keren Tang and Jennifer Rice share the title of becoming the first racialized women to serve as city councillors in Edmonton.
Eight female councillors take seats at the table where just two women sat during the previous council.
Just four councillors returned after several incumbents decided not to run again, and four councillors were defeated.
Andrew Knack, Tim Cartmell, Aaron Paquette and Sarah Hamilton return from the last council.
Erin Rutherford, Ashley Salvador, Anne Stevenson, Michael Janz, Karen Principe and Jo-Anne Wright all join Tang and Rice as rookie councillors.
Political experts have also labelled the majority of this new council as progressive, with two conservatives (Rice and Principe), and two ‘small C’ conservatives (Cartmell and Hamilton).
The ceremony was smaller than usual, due to COVID-19 considerations. It was streamed online by the city and broadcast live at the Stanley Milner Library.
SOHI'S FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS
On Tuesday, Sohi brought forward his first notice of motion as mayor.
He wants city officials to work with Edmonton's Anti-Racism Advisory Committee and community members to come up with strategies to fight racism and hate-based violence.
"We have seen a large number of incidents particularly against Muslim women wearing hijabs, and we also seen the rise of racism against members of Edmonton's Asian communities during COVID because of misinformation," Sohi told reporters after the meeting.
"We also have seen threatening and inappropriate calls coming to temples and gurudwaras and we've seen incidents overall on the rise."
The motion also calls for the city to lobby the provincial and federal governments for money and support to address the issue.
The city had not yet released its calendar for upcoming council meetings.