BIDDEFORD — The Biddeford City Council has voted to establish a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and is looking for volunteers to apply.

The purpose of the DEI committee, as described in the proposal approved by the City Council at a special meeting Jan. 17, is “to create a culture of acceptance and mutual respect that acknowledges differences and strives for equitable outcomes of opportunity, access and inclusion.”

“Our community has changed dramatically in recent years, as we have become more diverse and much younger,” said Mayor Alan Casavant. “If we are to continue to prosper and develop, it is important that we become more aware and understanding of each other and appreciate our cultural, ethnic, gender, and racial differences.”

The committee will advise the City Council on policy decisions related to diversity, equitable outcomes, and inclusion and make recommendations on public engagement strategies, so all Biddeford residents can better participate in the decision-making process. City leaders said appointed members will be expected to think broadly of how issues of racism, sexism, ableism, and other discriminatory and prejudicial biases impact all residents in Biddeford.

“We have to build bridges to each other and to our neighborhoods, because, after all, we all want the same thing: a home in which we feel safe, a city in which we can blossom, and a community that makes us feel appreciated, understood, and heard,” said Casavant. “Together, I think, we become stronger, and our community becomes more secure, more hopeful, and an even better place in which to live, work, and play.”

The committee will consist of  nine members, each appointed for a two-year term. Members must live, own a business, or attend school in Biddeford. Meetings will be scheduled monthly.

Those who are interested in being a part of the DEI committee should visit www.biddefordmaine.org/DEICommittee to learn more and apply, said Communications Coordinator Danica Lamontagne.