B.C. government allocates $365,000 for community anti-racism projects

THE B.C. government is allocating $365,000 for community anti-racism projects.

Racism comes in many forms. And so do the ways to address it.

Every day people and organizations use art, theatre, community dialogue events and a host of other forms of community engagement to combat racism.

Proposals for funding are being accepted in two categories:

* Anti-Racism Community Networks: This funding is for the maintenance of established networks and/or local outreach, education and community engagement that address racism.

* Anti-Racism Projects: This funding is for the design and delivery of projects and community engagement that address racism in communities.

In previous years, projects that have benefited from this type of funding include the Thompson Okanagan Respect Network, a regional group that comprises the communities of Penticton, Vernon, Kelowna, Kamloops and Salmon Arm.

Network representative Annette Sharkey and her team have found that communication, collaboration and respect are all key to addressing racism in their region. With funding provided by government, their series of events under the umbrella of Thompson Okanagan Respect Lives Here, included theatre productions, panel discussions, public art displays, a diversity walk and community workshops.

While each of the events and activities were different, they shared common themes. They all raised awareness of the issue of racism and its subtle manifestation, and provided the opportunity for people to discuss their feelings and experiences in a safe environment. This, in turn, created opportunities for people to embrace change.

Details of how to apply for funding can be found at the BC Bid website (bid opportunity RFP16MA01).

Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism Teresa Wat said: “

“It is up to us all to learn about racism and speak out against racist behaviours. This funding provides opportunities for communities to come together to talk about racism in their midst, encourage people to discuss their feelings and tackle racism head on in a safe environment.”

Thompson Okanagan Respect Network regional representative Annette Sharkey said: “With provincial support we created the Thompson Okanagan Respect Network to empower communities to address racism and hate at a local level. The network provides support and collaboration on a regional basis while still enabling communities to design projects that work for them. Whether it’s through workshops, drama, public art or multicultural walks, the Thompson Okanagan is successfully promoting diversity and celebrating multiculturalism.”


Quick Facts:

* The most ethnically diverse province in Canada, B.C. welcomes nearly 40,000 new immigrants every year.

* Racism is defined as a set of mistaken assumptions, opinions and actions resulting from the belief that one group of people categorized by colour or ancestry are inherently superior to another. Racism may be present in organizational and institutional policies, programs and practices, as well as in the attitudes and behaviour of individuals.

* With one million job openings expected by 2020 in B.C., immigrants will play a vital role in the economic well-being of the province.

* One-quarter of the people in B.C. are self-identified visible minorities, and 5% identify as Aboriginal.

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