General

Updated: June 29, 2021

Vancouver B.C. – BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner (BCOHRC) has released a summary of its recommendations on how government and other researchers can collect and use race-based and other disaggregated demographic data without causing harm to marginalized communities.

The recommendations come from a report the Office released in September, Disaggregated demographic data collection in British Columbia: The grandmother perspective. The brief released today highlights potential harms and mitigation tactics to help government and researchers ensure their use of disaggregated data promotes, rather than undermines, equity and justice.

BCOHRC’s original report was released in September 20202 in response to a letter from Premier John Horgan, which asked that B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner and Information and Privacy Commissioner inform the development of a policy initiative for the collection of race-based, Indigenous and other disaggregated data. This policy would need to further the aim of substantive social equality while avoiding the reinforcement of existing biases and discrimination.

BCOHRC’s recommendations stress that the details of how disaggregated data is collected, stored and shared are of critical importance because this kind of data can be—and has been—used to further colonization, systemic racism and oppression. To protect marginalized communities, BCOHRC emphasizes an approach that centres on relationships and community data stewardship: the grandmother perspective.

The grandmother perspective is an approach offered by Gwen Phillips of the Ktunaxa Nation and informed by Indigenous ways of knowing. Phillips explained that government must only collect the information required to nurture communities as it would a family member, to be able to say, as Elders might, “we need to know because we care.”

The summary of recommendations, Disaggregated data: Summary of recommendations to prevent harm to communities, is now available for download at: bchumanrights.ca/datacollection/harm

The original report is available for download at: bchumanrights.ca/datacollection

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About BCOHRC

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 deliver education materials on our rights and responsibilities, 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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