If I want to forget our province’s history, am I racist?
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Societal change will never occur only through personal change — but we can’t change the world without first changing ourselves. Working on our own racism can be uncomfortable, but that discomfort can’t compare to the pain of generations of Indigenous families whose children were taken to residential schools. If we don’t admit we have a problem that traces back through our history, we will never find the path forward.Kasari Govender, B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner
Imagine your mother had been killed in a bombing or your child had been taken away to an internment camp — would it feel like history should just be forgotten?
British Columbians cannot just “get over” history because history matters. History creates and maintains the story about who holds power in society and why. When we say, “why can’t they get over it,” and argue to ignore a part of history, it is a decision to tell some stories and hide others.
Ignoring history keeps things unjust.
Canada has a reputation of being a safe and friendly place, where values such as politeness, inclusivity and care are priorities, and racism is not a problem. But this myth does not tell the truth about the history and present-day experiences of racialized people.
This myth helps us hide the story about the very land that we live on and the power we do or do not have. This myth does not make room for change.
Part of why it is so hard to look at our history is that it may make us question our lives today.
Looking at the full story of history means recognising that some of us have benefitted while others of us were harmed. It means accepting that some of us thrived because of the hardship and violence endured by many others — and it means knowing that this continues into the present day.
This isn’t about feeling guilty for the history we can’t control; this is about taking responsibility for how that history impacts us today and our part in becoming anti-racist.
Scroll through the timeline below to learn more about racism over time in B.C.
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