VICTORIA – New Democrats Rachna Singh and Jinny Sims were among the MLAs who spoke in the BC legislature Monday saying we must combat racism in all forms.
“We all know that racism has been part of our history, not just in British Columbia but Canadian history, whether it be against Sikhs and Punjabis of the Komagata Maru in 1914, the Chinese Head Tax, the Japanese internment or the ongoing struggles of our Indigenous brothers and sisters in the present day,” said Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers. “I am honoured to be part of a government that is taking this issue very seriously especially considering the number of anti-racism initiatives that we have seen launched”.
“Racism is real. Racism hurts and is painfully a part of life for many. It’s part of life. But we have an opportunity to take action and to change so that other people, our children, our grandchildren, can live in safe communities” said MLA Sims of Surrey-Panorama. “Our curriculum has to reflect our diverse history including the contributions of different groups that came into this country. That is why I am incredibly proud of the recent announcement of the first-ever South Asian Museum which will highlight the unique contribution and challenges faced by the Sikh community in BC and across Canada”.
The motion was moved by Niki Sharma, MLA for Vancouver-Hastings this morning, one day after the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, observed on Sunday, March 21. The motion in full reads “Be it resolved that this House recognize the historic and present-day acts of structural, systemic and institutional racism perpetuated against racialized people and reaffirm our commitment to combatting racism in all forms.”
MLAs spoke about the injustices enacted against Indigenous, Black and people of colour by past governments and members of the legislature, including the exclusion of and discrimination against immigrants from Punjab and China, internment of Japanese Canadians, and colonization and genocide against Indigenous people. Members also addressed the increase in hate crimes and instances of racism reported against the Asian community in British Columbia since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The New Democrat government is committed to addressing and combatting racism in all its forms, including systemic racism embedded in our provincial institutions. The revival of the BC Human Rights Commission in 2018 provides a foundation for this work. A special committee of the legislature is currently undertaking a review of the 45-year-old Police Act to modernize it, with a specific focus on addressing systemic racism.
The government has also invested in ResilienceBC, a province-wide program to increase the capacity of communities to challenge racism at the local level. Last week, New Democrats launched an anti-racism advertising campaign to encourage people to examine their own personal biases and start difficult conversations about racism discrimination.