(File photo)

As racism remains rampant throughout BC, the province has dedicated funds to hearing the perspectives of racialized British Columbians. 

In a recent statement, BC announced it is providing more than $300,000 in grants to 68 organizations across the province in order for them to gather the perspectives of racialized people in a culturally safe space. 

Five of those organizations operate on Vancouver Island, with four being in the Victoria region. 

The information and perspectives gathered will then help to shape the future of anti-racism legislation in the province. 

“Too many people in BC experience systemic racism every day,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. “Part of how we will become an anti-racist society is by centring the lived experiences of those who have been marginalized by the harms of racism when we try to address it.”

“These grants will give front-line organizations the opportunity to amplify the voices of the communities that will be most affected by our new anti-racism legislation.”

The government is aiming to take an intersectional approach and wishes to hear from all racialized folks including those from faith-based organizations and 2SLGTBQIA+ communities. 

The 68 organizations chosen come from a pool of just over 100 who applied for the grant funds. The maximum amount an organization could receive being $5,000 and in total, the government allocated $308,000 toward the initiative. 

The money is specifically to be used as a way to organize a way for the voices of racialized individuals to be heard, be it as a town hall or a series of individual sessions. 

“This grant will be a catalyst for positive change within the Black community,” said Brian Seremba of the BC Community Alliance. 

“It will help us create safe spaces for open dialogue, amplify Black voices and foster a more inclusive and equitable future for our community.”

The organizations chosen have until September 2023 to put the funds to use and gather their findings for the province to review and utilize. 

The groups chosen who operate on Vancouver Island are: 

  • 7 Generation Stewards Society – Campbell River 
    • Rooted in archaeology and the study and preservation of the First Nations who lived and gathered in the Campbell River region, this organization explores everything that comes along with stewardship. 
  • African Art and Cultural Community Contributor CCC Inc. – Victoria 
    • Their Black-led, Black-serving, Black-oriented organization is an arts and cultural group whose mandate is the advancement of awareness of and understanding of the rich and diverse African culture.
  • Bangladesh Canada Cultural Association in Victoria (BCCAV) – Victoria
    • The BCCAV is an association which aims to preserve, maintain and promote Bangladeshi culture, as well as Canadian cultural values within the Bangladeshi community in Victoria and other cities of Vancouver Island.
  • Coastal Research, Education, and Advocacy Network (CREAN) – Victoria
    • They empower vulnerable, low-income and racialized youth through community-based research, education, and advocacy.
  • Inter-cultural Association of Greater Victoria, Victoria
    • For over 50 years, their purpose has been to support the full integration of newcomer immigrants and refugees into the social, economic and civic life of the Capital Region. 

For those who will not have access to these organizations across Vancouver Island, there is still a way to have your voice heard. 

The province put together a questionnaire, which is available online in 15 languages, that will also contribute to the anti-racism legislation BC will introduce in 2024. 

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