Governor vaccine 2

First Lady Diana McTeague Scott, left, and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott speak with a worker at a Vermont Department of Health clinic, where the couple received their COVID-19 vaccines earlier this year.

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MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott has declared the week of May 9-15 “Inclusion Week in Vermont,” issuing a pair of proclamations welcoming people of diverse backgrounds to the state and acknowledging the need to address systemic racism and inequality.

In addition to a proclamation announcing Inclusion Week, Scott also issued a Proclamation of Inclusion, calling on all Vermonters to “denounce prejudice, to openly acknowledge and address our own implicit bias and welcome and celebrate all people, of all races, colors, religions, national origins, sex, gender identity or expression, ages, disabilities, and continue to work together to ensure every individual can live freely, equitably, and express their opinions free from fear, intolerance and prejudice.”

“These proclamations are part of the State’s broader efforts to make equity a foundational element of everything we do,” Executive Director of Racial Equity Xusana Davis said.

“They espouse our values, and our values underlie our policy, budgetary, and operational work,” Davis said of the proclamations. “We look forward to making an impact with these declarations, and even more so, we look forward to living them out through our work across the state.”

The proclamations were developed under the framework of the Declaration of Inclusion, which was developed by a group of committed Vermonters and presented to cities and towns throughout the state.

According to published reports, last year, Bob Harnish, a hotel owner in Mendon, reached out to friends including Al Wakefield, a retired former restaurant owner, about promoting inclusion throughout the state. The Franklin Select Board, of which Harnish’s cousin Dave Bennion is a member, had taken similar action, and Harnish and Wakefield began reaching out to towns — and to Scott and Davis — for support.

To date, according to Scott’s office, cities and towns including Brandon, Franklin, Middlebury, Moretown, Pittsfield, Pittsford, Waterbury, Woodstock Village and the City of Rutland have gone on record formally pledging to support inclusion, as has the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.

“This is an important pair of proclamations because they recognize that being truly inclusive and welcoming takes work, and we have to keep building on it,” Scott said “The fact is, if we want stronger, more economically secure communities, we need more people and more diversity in Vermont. I hope this effort sends a message to anyone who wants to live and work in a safe, healthy and welcoming state.”