Kamloops Immigrant Services is participating in Anti-Racism Awareness Week, which runs from May 22 to may 26.
Anti-Racism Awareness Week raises awareness of racism, hate, discrimination, systemic racism and other kinds of discrimination that many minorities and underrepresented communities suffer on a daily basis in B.C.
Racial and discriminatory incidents have increased exponentially across the province throughout the pandemic and after. According to the BC Human Rights Commissioner’s Office, the number of police-reported hate crimes in B.C. increased by 118 per cent between 2019 and 2021. British Columbia is one of the provinces reporting the largest increase in hate crimes (198 more incidents) from 2019 to 2020.
Kamloops Immigrant Services has been working with local and provincial entities through its diversity outreach coordination program, through which the agency works towards the creation of safe spaces that provide experiential learning opportunities to many members of the community.
“The diversity program has a commitment to work with all members of society to try and remove those barriers that can be the cause of discrimination or racism, such as unconscious bias and lack of proper cultural education, and provide everyone with a safe and judgment-free environment where these topics can be discussed,” said Paolo Bigit, diversity outreach coordinator at Kamloops Immigrant Services.
Such a judgment-free environment is the annual Dearborn Ford Tapestry Festival, which takes place in McDonald Park in North Kamloops in September.
The festival is a Kamloops Immigrant Services multicultural celebration in partnership with the North Shore Business Improvement Association. Now in its second year, the festival aims to provide an inclusive and diverse environment for everyone.
“We are building more cultural awareness to try to reduce racism and discrimination incidents and allow the rest of the community to enjoy the diverse food, music, dances, history and art that this event shares,” Bigit said.
The 2023 Dearborn Ford Tapestry Festival will take place on Saturday, Sept. 16, from noon to 5 p.m.
Kamloops Immigrant Services has also developed a program called The Welcoming Workplace to promote inclusivity in communities and organizations. The program provides resources to discuss equity, diversity and inclusion. Learn more at: https://immigrantservices.ca/immigration-kamloops-services/inclusive-workplace-program/.
• From Hate to Hope: Report of the Inquiry into hate in the COVID-19 Pandemic: https://bchumanrights.ca/wp-content/uploads/BCOHRC_Hate-in-the-pandemic.pdf
• United Against Discrimination Report Tool: https://kcr.ca/anti-racism/
• Kamloops Immigrant Services Report Tool: https://immigrantservices.ca/cultural-diversity-outreach/resilience-bc-multiculturalism-anti-racism/
• Resilience BC: https://www.resiliencebc.ca/
• BC Human Rights Commissioner Office Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/humanrights4bc/
• Anti-Racism website from the Provincial Government : https://antiracism.gov.bc.ca/