The B.C. government has announced $200,000 as part of a province-wide anti-racism strategy to prepare British Columbians with the tools they’ll need to prevent racist behaviour.
During a news conference Thursday, Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism, said the new funds will be used for art, dialogue events and other projects to suit the “unique needs” of each community to give people a sense of belonging.
“When we see issues arise south of the border… arising in Europe, B.C. is not immune,” Kahlon said. “I think we need to acknowledge racism exists and take steps to address that.”
Since Donald Trump came into power in the U.S., some have argued that actions and comments have given a new spotlight to messaging that targets minorities and lacks inclusiveness.
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In B.C., racism-fuelled incidents have also made headlines.
Withint the last two years, there have been several cases of Klu-Klux-Klan flyers being spread throughout the Fraser Valley, as well as hate propaganda attacking Chinese immigrants being dispersed in Richmond.
More recently, in August, thousands struck back with their own anti-racism rally in Vancouver against a group planning an alt-right rally in front of City Hall.
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The funding, provided through the government’s Organizing Against Racism and Hate (OARH) program, will be available to 32 B.C. cities that are already members.
OARH funding is available to help communities address incidents of racism, hate and discrimination. This includes annual reports summarizing racism or hate crimes that are reported by residents or through police files.
Programs that already exist include a youth ambassador program in Duncan, where youth welcome new residents, and a program for refugees and immigrants in the north, provided through the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre.
Referring to to the new provincial strategy, Kahlon called it his “number one priority.”
“To address racism, it requires work, it doesn’t just happen.”