New Democrat MLA Harwinder Sandhu says more people in Vernon will develop the skills to address racism and defuse racist incidents as they complete free training offered through a new Anti-Racism Community (ARC) Stewards pilot program.
Racism continues to be a big problem for many British Columbians, says Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee, as many people deal with it on a regular basis.
“It is unacceptable that police-reported hate crimes increased to such an extent in 2021,” said Sandhu. “Too often, we don’t talk about these incidents openly which leaves victims of racism feeling alone and discouraged.
“We are working to combat racism in communities like Vernon-Monashee by empowering people with skills to defuse racist incidents and facilitate dialogues as we strive to create a safer and more equitable society, to build bridges and to unite us.”
Applications are being accepted until Aug. 11 for this ‘train the trainer’ program which will provide training to people with a passion for leading anti-racism work in their community.
Successful applicants will learn the skills needed to offer anti-racism bystander training and facilitate community dialogues on racism and discrimination in their communities. Twenty participants from 18 small communities across the province will begin their training in October 2022. Participants will receive an honorarium and have their travel expenses covered.
This pilot project was developed by the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society, a nonprofit organization that assists people new to Canada and advances anti-racism initiatives as part of the Resilience B.C. Anti-Racism Network. Resilience B.C. is a network of more than 34 organizations that connects local leaders with the information, support and training they need to respond to, and prevent future incidents of racism and hate in their communities.
This program, says Sandhu, is an important part of the B.C. New Democrat government’s commitment to dismantle systemic racism and build a better, more inclusive province for everyone.
The province has taken further action to tackle racism including: reinstating the B.C. Human Rights Commission after it was dismantled by the former B.C. Liberal government; investigating allegations of racism in B.C.’s health-care system; and developing a comprehensive, multi-year anti-racism action plan for B.C.’s K-12 education system.
This spring, a special committee of the legislature released recommendations to reform and modernize the 45-year-old Police Act, with a specific focus on addressing systemic racism. In June, the government also enshrined the historic Anti-Racism Data Act into law and is now working in partnership with Indigenous and Black people and people of colour to develop ways to collect voluntary data safely.
For more information about the program and to apply, visit: https://www.vircs.bc.ca/lcrcprogram.