B.C. chooses Victoria-based group as hub in battle against racism

The provincial government has chosen the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society to play a key role in fighting a rise of racism in B.C.

The Victoria-based society will serve as the provincial hub for the Resilience B.C. Anti-Racism Network, tasked with connecting communities and co-ordinating anti-racism initiatives.

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The announcement comes after a spate of racist incidents targeting Asians during the COVID-19 pandemic. In one incident in Vancouver last month, a store’s security camera caught a large man pushing an elderly Asian man to the ground. Hateful graffiti was sprayed on the building housing the Chinese Cultural Centre. A woman in a grocery store told a pregnant Asian-Canadian to “Go back to China.”

“It is very concerning that we are seeing an increase in racially motivated attacks toward people of Asian heritage since the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Anne Kang, B.C.’s minister for multiculturalism.

“These incidents are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We are acting now to address racism at the community level and ensure all British Columbians are free from discrimination and intimidation.”

Victoria Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe also expressed concern. “I was upset when I heard of the incidents that happened in Vancouver,” she said. “Racism exists in all communities and the COVID-19 outbreak may have served to show its face a little more. Fortunately, Victoria's community is more close-knit, and I haven’t heard of an increase in racism here.”

Resilience B.C., created in November 2019, is funded by the province. The Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society was chosen through competitive bidding.

“I believe the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society was chosen for this role because our organization has always led the way with innovative and specialized programs in our sector,” said executive director David Lau. “Our strength is being able to work collaboratively and we look forward to finding local solutions for the more than 30 local groups in communities around B.C.”

The province is still accepting applications for community-based organizations to address racism and hate. Proposals need to be received by May 19.

parrais@timescolonist.com

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