Several cars on Woodbine Crescent were tagged with swastikas in April 2017.

Abbotsford group documenting racist incidents gets new funding

Fraser Valley Human Dignity Coalition helps victims of discrimination

New provincial funding will help a local coalition continue its fight against racism in Abbotsford.

Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s parliamentary secretary for sport and multiculturalism, last week announced $200,000 in funding for Organizing Against Racism and Hate, a province-wide program.

Abbotsford’s share of the money will go to the Fraser Valley Human Dignity Coalition (FVHDC), run out of Abbotsford Community Service’s Diversity Education office. The coalition of local organizations includes the Abbotsford Police Department, University of the Fraser Valley and human rights groups.

FVHDC runs workshops for local organizations, businesses and agencies, teaching them how to handle and prevent instances of discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation and other prohibited grounds.

The group also documents instances of discrimination in Abbotsford. In 2017, the Diversity Education office received 20 to 25 reports, according to program co-ordinator Lia Bishop.

She said most of these cases involved overt incidents where someone was called a derogatory term or even the victim of violence. Many involved repeated discrimination documented over an extended period, she said.

There have been several prominent examples of racism in Abbotsford in recent months, including the distribution of Ku Klux Klan pamhlets, a racial tirade captured in a viral video, swastikas painted on cars.

The Diversity Education office also acts as a referral system for victims who need counseling or legal help.

“For a lot of people, it’s just not knowing what’s accessible to them,” Bishop said. “So they are really calling not only to report, but just to know what avenues or next steps they can take and just the support there to walk them through what they’re going through.”