Anti-hate and anti-racism support for communities are being strengthened, with the Powell River region now offering Resilience BC services.
Stuart Clark, executive director of Lift Community Services of qathet Society, said in an interview that his organization has received $7,500 from the province to operate the Resilience BC service in the Powell River region. Resilience BC is a new program for the government to deal with hate and racism.
Clark said the province had a program for years called Organizing Against Racism and Hate. He said the government had operated the program under the Multiculturalism Act. He said it was designed to respond to hate activities and help remove systemic barriers that allow for hate and racism to occur, and also to support community organizations to deal with these matters.
“There is no place for racism and hate in British Columbia. To fight racism and hate crimes, we must work together in a coordinated way in communities in every corner of the province,” stated minister of citizens’ services and responsible for multiculturalism Anne Kang in a media release from the provincial government. “These community organizations will lead action at a local and regional level to respond to and prevent racist and hate activity.”
Clark said the province decided to retool the program and have come up with a new model.
“Theoretically, how it should work is there is one hub organization, and then they coordinate the Resilience BC projects on behalf of the government,” said Clark. “They work with all of the spoke communities and Powell River is going to be one of them.”
Under the old program, Lift received $6,000 per year, and it has gone up to $7,500. Clark said what the work means is there is a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder committee in the community. He said it has to respond to incidents of hate.
“We have to set up a mechanism for us to be able to receive information about what is happening in the community on that level,” said Clark. “Theoretically, if something happens that is a hate, racist or homophobic event, we should be finding a way to respond to it at a community level, in parallel with law enforcement. If it’s a true hate crime, police need to be involved.
“There’s lots of impacts in the community that we can deal with, such as community forums, education campaigns or diversity-promoting events.”
Clark said the committee is supposed to be a response committee, but also, a preventative committee.
“We are supposed to get out there and create conditions in the community such as diversity promotion events and campaigns,” he added.
Clark said there is a community, diversity, equity and inclusion committee running under qathet Community Justice, which is an organization that Lift sponsors. He said that committee will take on this work of making sure the Resilience BC obligations are met.
In Powell River, partners are brought together and they decide each year how to spend the money.
“Two things are important,” said Clark. “It’s important to have a response plan when things happen and we need to come up with events that promote prevention – anti-hate or anti-racism campaigns or initiatives.”
In past, the committee has run stories in local media associated with how language really matters. Clark said they also recently helped sponsor an exhibit at the arts centre that featured LGBTQ2+ artists. There have been campaigns around diversity issues and cultural diversity events that have been supported.
Clark said a big focus is how this community will take a meaningful step toward being truly anti-racist.
“We need to be really focused on what anti-racist means for this community and some meaningful steps we can take to encourage some change,” said Clark.
Resilience BC is one of a number of measures the BC government is taking as part of its commitment to stand up for diversity, end racism and all forms of discrimination, and support multiculturalism in BC.
Most recently, through Resilience BC, the province launched an online portal to support people who experience or witness a racist incident. The website offers information in 12 languages. Multilingual videos will soon be added at hatecrimesinbc.resiliencebcnetwork.ca.