What we’re doing
Our Office is committed to reducing the presence of hate in our society. Recent incidents of racism and violence across B.C. during the COVID-19 pandemic are deeply disturbing. These violent acts are rooted in ignorance and discrimination against marginalized communities, specifically Asian, Indigenous and Black communities. B.C. is experiencing dramatic increases in hate associated police files, in addition to the many acts of violence that are not reported. Below are some of the examples of our work in this area.
Hi, I’m Kasari Govender, BC’s Human Rights Commissioner. Today I join Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin in taking the ‘Different Together’ anti-racism pledge, and in speaking out and taking action against racism in British Columbia. There can be no doubt that the violence we are witnessing is catalyzed by the pandemic and the challenges it brings. COVID-19 has changed our lives forever, bringing great uncertainty and heightening anxiety and fear. That fear has some of us falling back on old racist tropes, racist words that have quickly escalated to physical violence. We must recognize that the hate we are witnessing is part of a long histories of racism in our province and our communities, but hate is not inevitable. We all have a role to play in interrupting racism and hate with our words and actions. It’s up to each of us to stand up for and with our friends and neighbors. Often the act of bearing witness is enough to change the dynamic of a situation. You can stand beside the person being targeted and let them know that you’re here for them. You can choose to walk away with them from the situation so that they don’t have to walk away alone. You can record what’s happening and report it. Where it’s safe for you to do so, you can intervene directly to say that spreading hate is not okay. Please join me in speaking up and standing up against racism in our communities.
Responding to the rise of racist violence during COVID-19
During the pandemic, the Commissioner and our Education and Engagement team have been meeting extensively with community organizations responding to incidents of hate and racism. The Commissioner has spoken to thousands of British Columbians in numerous town halls, roundtables and virtual events, about how issues of hate crimes and racist violence are touching their lives.
BCOHRC recognizes that the rise of hate that we have seen in this province – both before and then during the pandemic – does not arise out of nowhere. In realizing our strategic priority to address the rise of hate, we recognized that racism exists on a continuum and we need to tackle it at its roots. So we launched our Am I Racist campaign to get at those forms of racism that are often more invisible and insidious than overt hate – indeed those stereotypes and biases that we all hold inside. The campaign empowers citizens to address racism, starting from a point of self-reflection.
What we know
of trans and non-binary people in B.C. have experienced verbal harassment.
of people in B.C. believe hate crimes have increased since the pandemic began,
the highest percentage in any province. (source)
hate crimes were reported to the police in B.C. in 2017,
an increase of 55 per cent from two years earlier. (source)
participants in a study on the rise in anti-Asian racism in B.C. reported incidents of assault.
Report hate crimes and human rights violations
There are two official avenues available for people who face incidents of racism and racist violence. The first is that you can report these incidents to the police. Reporting incidents is part of the criminal process of responding to hate crimes. Here is more information about how to report a hate crime to the RCMP Hate Crimes Unit.
There is also a human rights approach to dealing with hate speech and discrimination. Under the B.C. Human Rights Code, you can file a complaint through the BC Human Rights Tribunal. Here is more information about how to file a complaint through the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
Share your support online
Follow us @humanrights4bc and use the hashtag #humanrights4BC to point us towards resources for anti-racism action and reflection.