B.C. residents asked to share experiences to help shape anti-racism legislation
Public consultation open until end of November
The British Columbia government is asking residents to provide input on proposed anti-racism legislation as members of marginalized communities say the collection of data will help groups flourish.
Rachna Singh, the parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives, says the public feedback will help better identify systemic racism in existing government programs.
B.C. residents can share their thoughts through an online government portal until Nov. 30.
Singh says systemic racism has led to a mistrust in government programs by marginalized groups.
Dr. June Francis, an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University, says the lack of data on systemic racism has helped society ignore the problems marginalized and racialized people face.
She adds the lack of data has also stopped those groups from "flourishing'' and achieving more success.
"Desegregated and anti-racist data is critical to ensuring Indigenous and racialized groups in B.C. have access to ... housing, employment, education, policing and other areas,'' Francis said.
"For too long, we've been running blind, or I wonder if we're just blinding ourselves, through having no data to systemic racism and institutional racism.''
Calls for change
Lawyer and advocate Steven Ngo thinks another survey isn't the complete answer to the problem. While he agrees the survey should be filled out, he would like to see concrete change implemented by the B.C. government while waiting for the results.
"This is a step in the right direction. I think there's some initial concrete action being made. But the reality is that people are data- and survey-fatigued right now. We already have a census that's happening every so [many] years and nothing's being put in place," Ngo told CBC News.
He's also been advocating for the RCMP to begin an online portal where people can report hate crimes.
"[Right now] you're forced to call the police to even report any kind of incident. How in the world do we expect the accurate data? People cannot even report it [online]. I would love to see a form of modernization of this," he said.
Francis says change is coming and is urging people to participate.
"We need your voices to determine the future of this legislation."
With files from Zahra Premji and Brittany Roffel