EDITORIAL: We must confront our history of racist land titles

For generations, it was illegal for anyone of “African or Asiatic descent” to own a home in the British Properties. It was a covenant written right into the land title registered with the province.

This coming Monday, West Vancouver Coun. Marcus Wong – the first person of colour ever elected in West Van – will move a motion seeking to have those covenants rooted out and erased.

Of course, we say good on Wong for tackling this issue. The covenants have been null since the 1970s but they remain on the books and are an insult to the dignity of thousands of people who live in homes where they once would only have been allowed to wash floors and tend the garden.

Far from being a West Vancouver phenomenon, these odious clauses are tucked into the land titles of developments approved in the first half of the 20th century all over B.C. Other councils may wish to take notice.

No one seems to know how many of these explicitly racist covenants there are. This seek-and-destroy mission, if it is to be successful, probably won’t be cheap or easy.

The provincial government that once blessed these exclusionary laws should have a hand in seeing them properly expunged. We’d suggest British Properties has an onus to step in and help correct the injustice it profited from.

And every step of this should be done in full view of the public. It is the only way to ensure we confront this mistake and collectively own up to it, rather than, again, let it be lost to history.

What are your thoughts? Send us a letter via email by clicking here or post a comment below.

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