British Columbia

B.C. human rights commissioner launches portal so public can report hate-related incidents

The B.C. Office of the Human Rights Commissioner (OHRC) has begun accepting public submissions into rising incidents of hate during the pandemic as part of a public inquiry it launched last fall.

Initiative follows online poll showing 26 per cent of respondents impacted by hate incidents

An online poll conducted by the Office of the B.C. Human Rights Commissioner found one in four British Columbia respondents has been impacted by a 'hate incident' since the beginning of the pandemic. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The B.C. Office of the Human Rights Commissioner (OHRC) has begun accepting public submissions into rising incidents of hate during the pandemic as part of a public inquiry it launched last fall.

The agency, which is independent of government, but reports to the Legislative Assembly says it hopes members of the public will share their experiences through a new online portal that is accepting submissions in multiple languages.

The initiative follows a massive spike in hate crimes reported to police since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

So far, the inquiry has heard from community organizations, and is currently getting submissions from First Nations and local governments — but the province's human rights commissioner told CBC News it's vital to hear from people directly affected by hate incidents, whether or not they reported them to the police.

"The numbers in terms of reported hate have grown significantly — very large jumps in reports to police themselves, as well as non-police reporting mechanisms," said Commissioner Kasari Govender in an interview.

"Many people do not report to the police, particularly those who are from marginalized communities who may be most likely to be recipients of hate but may be also most likely not to have a lot of trust in police as an institution."

Spike in 'hate incidents'

The OHRC's inquiry comes as an online poll conducted by survey company Research Co., on behalf of the OHRC,  showed 26 per cent of all respondents in B.C. had seen or been impacted by a "hate incident" since the pandemic started.

Research Co. defined a hate incident as an action and speech, rooted in prejudice, that is aimed at people because of a personal characteristic (including age, disability, race, gender and sexual identity) and is intended to cause significant harm to that group.

Lion statues of Vancouver’s Chinatown Millennium Gate covered in orange tape after being defaced for the second time in the matter of weeks on Friday, May 29, 2020. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The online poll was conducted among 800 adults in online panels last December, weighted to represent the demographics from B.C.'s last census. For comparison purposes only, the margin of error of a probability sample of the same size would be 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Nine per cent of respondents directly experienced a hate incident during the pandemic.

One of them was Trixie Lingwho was walking in early May 2020 in East Vancouver, when a white man taunted her with anti-Asian and sexual slurs, and then spat on her face.

"It was a real catalyst moment for me that made me really angry and want to speak out," she told CBC News. "Creating space for people to share their own stories — you learn you're not alone."

She hopes the inquiry pays special attention to how, as in her case, a hate incident can impact someone not only through racism, but other aspects of their identity such as gender, sexual orientation and religion.

Although she reported the incident to Vancouver police, she agreed many people do not feel it's safe or effective to approach authorities, and hopes the inquiry recommends increased funding and support for organizations trusted in their communities.

"Community groups are already doing a lot of anti-racism work, a lot of anti-hate work surrounding community building and community safety," she said. "I do hope this inquiry can look ... at systems change, but also on-the-ground change."

The province saw a string of attacks on Asian-Canadian seniors, and vandalism in Vancouver's Chinatown and at other Chinese community landmarks, but Govender says other communities have also been affected.

B.C. Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender hopes the commission's survey gets numerous responses from the public.She says the response is 'absolutely essential for us making our recommendations.' (Harold Dupuis/CBC)

The Komagata Maru memorial was vandalized last August, and police laid charges last month. An Indigenous woman told CBC News in 2020 she was punched and told told to "go back to Asia."

Govender said her inquiry's final report is expected to be submitted to the legislature in the fall and will include recommendations for policymakers and other authorities.

"Experiencing that hate, either directly or as a witness, and that can have long term psychological impacts," Govender said, "and can have impacts on who we are as a society, in this hyper-polarized time in our world."

Members of the public can submit reports of hate incidents to the commission's public reporting website. The survey is open until March 6.


  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the inquiry has already heard from First Nations and local governments. In fact, it is still in the process of receiving submissions from them.
    Feb 03, 2022 11:13 AM PT


David P. Ball


David P. Ball is a multimedia journalist with CBC News in Vancouver. He has previously reported for the Toronto Star, Agence France-Presse, and The Tyee, and has won awards from the Canadian Association of Journalists and Jack Webster Foundation. You can send story tips or ideas to, or contact him on Twitter.

With files from Akshay Kulkarni