Governor's Tolerance Commission to meet in Kenai

Posted: Sunday, October 21, 2001

With a goal to help create "a more tolerant Alaska that celebrates our diversity of people and cultures," the Governor's Tolerance Commission is coming to Kenai.

The Monday hearing, scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. at Kenai City Hall, follows nine similar hearings around the state. Since the commission began its six-month assignment to uncover the depth of discrimination and racism in the state, public testimony has been gathered in Kotzebue, Juneau, Kodiak, Fairbanks, Bethel and Anchorage.

On Tuesday, a final hearing is scheduled in Anchorage. Then begins the process of compiling the findings into a report and recommendations to be delivered to Gov. Tony Knowles by Nov. 30.

Education is the public's No. 1 recommendation for battling issues of racism and discrimination, according to Diana Rhoades, the commissioner's executive director.

"Getting to know someone who doesn't share your same lifestyle or nationality," Rhoades explained. "(It's) tough to educate people about values, but that's what we're hearing."

Six commissioners will be present Monday to hear the public's experiences and suggestions:

Mara Kimmell, of Anchorage, the staff attorney for Catholic Social Services' immigration and refugee services program, who focused on Alaska Native law and was subsistence liaison for Chugachmiut Native Corporation;

Gilbert Sanchez, of Anchorage, a Cuban-born broadcast journalist who won awards for his coverage of unsolved homicides of Native women in Anchorage;

Denise Morris, of Anchorage, president and chief executive officer of the Alaska Native Justice Center and an active member of numerous groups that have worked on equality, justice and victims rights;

Chuck Eddy, commission chair, of Anchorage, the recently retired rector of St. Mary's Episcopal Church who served on the municipality's Social Services Advisory Commission and the board of the Alaska Council on Alcoholism;

Sen. Georgianna Lincoln, D-Rampart, who was elected to Alaska's House of Representatives in 1990 and is in her third term in the Senate, is an outspoken advocate of Native issues and served on the Local-State Tribal Relations Task Force; and

Tom Stewart, of Juneau, a retired Superior Court Judge who was secretary at the Alaska Constitutional Convention in 1955 and 1956.

Group testimony will be taken from 1:30 until 3:30 p.m. Public testimony will be gathered from 4 until 7 p.m.

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