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Updated: February 16, 2021

Vancouver B.C. – BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner (BCOHRC) will host two online events in March designed to teach researchers, decision makers and community groups about how race-based and other demographic data can be used responsibly to address systemic racism and other inequalities in our province.

As the COVID-19 pandemic throws social inequalities into sharp relief, advocacy groups, politicians and other stakeholders have been in the media calling for decision makers to begin collecting disaggregated demographic data. Yet what kind of data to collect and how to manage it are not well understood. BCOHRC’s upcoming webinars aim to close the gap.

The first public webinar will be held Wednesday, March 3 at 6:30 p.m. PST. The 1.5-hour event will take place on Zoom and features Commissioner Kasari Govender; BCOHRC’s Executive Director, Research and Policy, Trish Garner; and Gwen Phillips, a data governance expert from the Ktunaxa Nation. A second event for B.C. organizations and decisionmakers will take place Thursday, March 4 at 10 a.m. PST.

The webinars draw upon BCOHRC’s 2020 report, Disaggregated demographic data collection in British Columbia: The grandmother perspective, which calls on government to collect disaggregated data to illuminate systemic inequalities and injustices. It cautions, however, that the details of how data is collected, stored and shared is of critical importance.

“Data collection is often the first step needed to make change,” Commissioner Kasari Govender said. “We cannot act on what we do not know. Yet, data has also been used in ways that further marginalize and stigmatize communities. The way we collect data and who controls it are critically important. We must ensure data is used only to further social equity; to set aside the big brother mentality in favour of the grandmother perspective.”

The “grandmother perspective,” an approach to data collection coined by Phillips, proposes decision makers collect only the information needed to nurture communities, to be able to say, as Elders might, “we need to know because we care.”

Since the release of BCOHRC’s report, several researchers and organizations have reported using the grandmother perspective as their approach. The March webinars will provide context and tools for those interested in using the grandmother perspective, as well as information for citizens and community leaders those looking to learn more about the implications of disaggregated demographic data collection in B.C.

Registration for both events can be found at: bchumanrights.ca/datacollection/webinars


Media contact

Commissioner Kasari Govender is not available for interviews. For more information, contact Elaine O’Connor, Acting Director, Communications, at Elaine.OConnor@bchumanrights.ca or 1-250-216-4534.

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BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner exists to address the root causes of inequality, discrimination and injustice in B.C. by shifting laws, policies, practices and cultures. We do this work through education, research, advocacy, inquiry and monitoring. Learn more at: bchumanrights.ca

About the Commissioner

B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner, Kasari Govender, started her five-year term on Sept. 3, 2019. Since then, our Office has been working swiftly to build a strong team, to listen deeply to the concerns of British Columbians, to issue policy guidance to protect marginalized communities and to lay a human rights-based foundation for our work. As an independent officer of the Legislature, the Commissioner is uniquely positioned to ensure human rights in B.C. are protected, respected and advanced on a systemic level throughout our society.

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