VICTORIA – More than 13,000 British Columbians have participated in an engagement on how government can safely and thoughtfully use demographic data to address systemic racism and build a better, more inclusive province for everyone.

This is one of the most extensive public consultations the Province has ever done and will inform B.C.’s first anti-racism data legislation, set to be introduced next month.

“For years, Indigenous, Black and people of colour have faced long standing inequities and have been left out of the development of services and supports,” said Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-racism Initiatives. “This legislation is built on the tireless labour and advocacy of Indigenous partners, Black and racialized communities. Their voices are at the centre of this legislation, and it will help advance racial equity in British Columbia.”

From September 2021 to Jan. 31, 2022, the Province engaged Indigenous Peoples and racialized communities to better understand how to improve services and address systemic racism in B.C. by safely sharing data about their identity.

Over the four months, 13,052 people provided their perspectives through three streams: an online public engagement; community-led engagement sessions; and engagement with Indigenous leadership and Indigenous and Métis communities.

More than 90% of participants in the community-led engagement believed that collecting demographic data could bring about a positive change in B.C. and be a step toward building trust between government and Indigenous Peoples and racialized communities.

To support the engagement, the Province provided more than $1.1 million to support almost 70 community organizations to lead their own sessions, with funding also available to Indigenous and Métis organizations, including the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres and Métis Nation BC.

More than 450 sessions were held over the four-month period. Findings include:

* the importance of gathering data that aligns with how people prefer to identify themselves, particularly for First Nations and Métis communities;

* the need for data and security standards for the safe storage and use of information;

* the importance of having a clear use for data and the need to see systemic changes as a result of this new legislation; and

* the need for communities to be involved in determining how their data is used and with whom it is shared, so information is not used to stigmatize or stereotype people.

The anti-racism data legislation, which will be introduced in the coming weeks, addresses the challenges raised through engagement, and builds upon initial recommendations from the B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner’s report, “The Grandmother Perspective,” which provides suggestions on how government can use disaggregated data to address systemic discrimination. It is also informed by recommendations from the In Plain Sight report, from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, which outlines steps for government to take to address anti-Indigenous racism in B.C.’s health-care system.

The Province will continue to work closely with Indigenous, Black and people of colour throughout the development and refinement of the legislation as part of its commitment to tackle systemic discrimination in all its forms.