Photos taken by students at the Haisla Community School for a Resilience BC project by the Tamitik Status of Women in Kitimat. These photos were to be of things that either relfected their experiences with racism, or made them feel safe and happy. July 29, 2020. Photo courtesy of Tamitik Status of Women.

Kitimat’s Tamitik Status of Women part of anti-hate, anti-racism project throughout B.C.

Resilience BC aims to provide anti-hate and anti-racism support in 40 communities around B.C.

  • Jul. 29, 2020 12:00 a.m.

The Tamitik Status of Women (TSW) has been included as one of the nine new organizations offering Resilience BC services in B.C.’s Northern region.

Resilience BC is a program that came about to connect communities around the province with information, supports, and training that will help to provide response to, and prevent future incidents of, hate and racism.

READ MORE: PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

The different organizations around the province work with local community members to identify local priorities dealing with racism and hate, move anti-hate and anti-racism projects forward, and represent communities on a provincial scale.

“There is no place for racism and hate in British Columbia. To fight racism and hate crimes, we must work together in a co-ordinated way in communities in every corner of the province,” Anne Kang, Minister of Citizens’ Services and responsible for Multiculturalism, said. “These community organizations will lead action at a local and regional level to respond to and prevent racist and hate activity.”

34 organizations were chosen to provide services in 40 different communities throughout B.C. The organizations selected had to go through a competitive process, demonstrating a strong understanding of racism and hate issues and have a defined course of action moving forward.

The TSW in Kitimat has been involved with the project for a few years now, which was previously called Organizing Against Racism and Hate.

With the funding they received in the past few years, the TSW ran various events and activities around town, Michelle Martins, Director of Services at TSW, said.

A couple of years ago, workers from TSW went to the Haisla Community School and spoke with students in Grades Five to Seven about racism, their experiences with racism, and how to combat it and emotionally heal from it.

“Then they had students go out…and take photos either of representations, things that reflected their experiences with racism…or things in places that were kind of safe and contributed to their well-being,” Martins said.

READ MORE: Haisla Nation Council and TSW sign a Memorandum of Understanding

Haisla Nation was hosting the All Native Junior Basketball Tournament shortly afterwards, so the photos were printed on canvas and hung up in the gym for all to see throughout the tournament.

The TSW also hosted an evening event for feminist and Indigenous issues, which had been created through research TSW did with Haisla Nation and a researcher at the University of Guelph, in Ontario.

The research focused on the well-being of women and girls, in particular in communities impacted by resource extraction projects, and how their well-being is affected because of that. Isolation and the need for socialization came up in the research, so Haisla Nation, TSW, and other organizations in Kitimat and Kitamaat Village held an evening event in the fall of 2019, specifically for people who identified as female. Dinner was served and female leaders from both Kitimat and Kitamaat Village spoke.

The two key parts the events were to bring women together, as well as to encourage young girls to be more involved in decision-making tables, such as advisory committees, District of Kitimat Council, or Haisla Nation Council.

“Part of the gathering was also to help bridge relationships between non-Indigenous and Indigenous community members, which was also something that kind of came out of the report,” Martins said. “There was certainly disclosures of racism and people experiencing racism in their own community.”

Going forward, Martins said the TSW plans to use the funding from Resilience BC to host another women’s event, and are on the lookout for more ideas that would benefit anti-racism and anti-hate supports in Kitimat.

“As the culture is shifting in Kitimat, we’re certainly kind of keeping eyes and ears open to what else could be valuable here,” Martins said.

In the northern region, nine organizations have been chosen as community and regional service providers for Resilience BC, also including Skeena Diversity Society in Terrace and North Coast Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society in Prince Rupert.

Together, the organizations are receiving a total of $75,000 towards the Resilience BC initiatives in their communities.

Through Resilience BC, the Province also recently launched an online portal to provide people with information about what hate crimes are and how to take action against them, as well as resources and a reporting centre for those who experience or witness a racist incident.

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