B.C.’s champions of anti-racism celebrated

MORE than 70 people and organizations have been recognized for their efforts to tackle discrimination and foster diversity at this year’s virtual B.C. Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Awards.

“Our government stands alongside the many British Columbians who are fighting against racism and making our province more welcoming and inclusive for everyone,” said Premier John Horgan. “Together, we stand united against racism and committed to the work that must be done to dismantle the systemic discrimination that is still a lived reality for too many people in B.C.”

The B.C. Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Awards are held annually to honour British Columbians for their leadership in promoting multiculturalism and addressing racism.

“We give thanks to every nominee for their incredible work to stand up to racism and champion diversity and understanding across our province,” said Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary of Anti-Racism Initiatives. “Now more than ever, we must shine a light on racism and address the uncomfortable truth that it exists in B.C. It is only by working together that we can make a lasting change so our future generations are free of hatred and discrimination.”

At a virtual award ceremony on March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, five British Columbians received awards in three categories, including:

* Breaking Barriers Awards for outstanding work in building intercultural trust and understanding and/or reducing racism and hate between communities:
– Stephanie Allen (Vancouver)

– International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 933 (Kamloops)

* Intercultural Trust Awards for outstanding work in tackling systemic or institutional racism and reducing barriers for marginalized communities:
– Klasom Satlt’xw Losah Rose Henry (Victoria)

– Harman Singh Pandher (Burnaby)

Harman Singh Pandher

* Emerging Leader Award for a youth/young adult, aged 15 to 30, for outstanding work in building intercultural trust, tackling racism or reducing barriers for marginalized communities:
– Mengdie Wang (Burnaby)

The recipient of the Emerging Leader Award receives a $5,000 grant to be donated to an organization of their choice. This year, the grant will go to the Chinese Taoism Kuan-Kung Association in Canada.

“It is crucial to acknowledge, celebrate and support those dedicated activists and grassroots organizations who are working tirelessly to break barriers and bring us closer to equity,” said Amir Bajehkian, member of the provincial Multicultural Advisory Council. “These efforts are often thankless and out of the spotlight. Nonetheless, they are not just there as favours to marginalized people. All of us are better off when everyone can reach their full potential and fully participate in the affairs of our communities.”

Quick Facts

* Nominations are submitted by the public through an open call process.

* All nominees are invited to the virtual award ceremony and receive a certificate of recognition. Award recipients receive a trophy.

* In November 2019, the Province launched Resilience BC, a provincial anti-racism network, which supports partners in 50 communities throughout the province in their work to eliminate racism, discrimination and hate.

* Other steps the Province has taken to tackle racism include:
– reinstating the B.C. Human Rights Commission to promote and protect human rights for all British Columbians;

– launching an investigation into allegations of discrimination in B.C.’s health-care system;

– developing a comprehensive, multi-year anti-racism action plan for B.C.’s K-12 education system that includes:
* community roundtables on anti-racism in education;

* youth engagement and development of resources for teachers;

* new resources and training for staff and students through the Erase (Expect Respect and a Safe Education) strategy; and

* committing to introduce a new anti-racism act and legislation on race-based data collection.