British Columbia

B.C. government making 'inadequate progress' in tackling anti-Black racism, report says

The Black in British Columbia report, commissioned by the provincial government and undertaken by the African Art and Cultural Community Contributor Society, is a result of a months-long consultation progress with B.C.'s Black community.

Black in British Columbia report highlights racism in police, education, hiring practices

Crowds take to the streets in Vancouver to march against racism and celebrate Black culture on Friday, June 19, 2020. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

In a report released Tuesday, the African Art and Cultural Community Contributor Society (AACCCS) is calling on the B.C. government to address anti-Black racism through policy changes and funding. 

The Black in British Columbia report finds the government had made "inadequate progress in terms of recognizing, promoting, and protecting the human rights of people of African descent in B.C." 

Partially funded by the provincial government as part of the Black in B.C. Convener project, the report is the result of a six-month long consultation with members of B.C.'s Black community.

Information was gathered through an online survey, 12 focus group discussions and community conversations, and consultation with an advisory committee of 25 Black-led organizations and community leaders. 

"There is a clear and pressing need for change and this report is a critical step in realizing the progress the Black community is longing to see," said Pulcherie Mboussi, the executive director of AACCCS, in a statement.

The report found issues of anti-Black racism in several key sectors of society. 

In their assessment of public safety, 70 per cent of respondents to their survey said they felt targeted or concerned about their safety when dealing with local police or RCMP. 

In the education sector, 75 per cent of respondents said their educational experiences in B.C. had been impacted by experiences of anti-Black racism from school officials, teachers or peers. 

Their assessment also found a relatively low representation of people of African descent in the professions of medicine, nursing, teaching, and politics, as well as low representation in leadership and decision-making positions across organizations.

The study noted: "This trend is curious considering the relatively high academic and professional qualification we find amongst people of African descent in B.C."

Moving forward

The report provided a wide variety of recommendations to various provincial government branches, ranging from publicly acknowledging the impact of colonialism to recruiting more people of African descent to work in government to ensuring equity in public service delivery.

The report also recommended the province provide annual funding for three cultural centres dedicated to community programs and services for the Black community: one in Greater Vancouver, one in Greater Victoria and one in Prince George. 

"This report clearly lays out the experiences of Black communities throughout the province … It's no doubt that anti-Black racism is institutionalized," said Rachna Singh, the parliamentary secretary for anti-racism Initiatives in B.C.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.