Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-racism Initiatives, has released the following statement in celebration of Multiculturalism Week:
“BC Multiculturalism Week is a time to celebrate the diversity that makes British Columbia so vibrant. With more than 200 First Nations communities alongside people from more than 200 different countries or regions, this is a province that is made stronger by all those who call it home.
“This week is also a time to reflect on how we can develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the different cultures around us, and how they have contributed to the history of this province. It is a wonderful opportunity to enrich our lives by learning more about the traditions, perspectives and cultures beyond our own.
“Yet we cannot move forward without considering the lasting impact of historic wrongs and systemic racism experienced by Indigenous and racialized peoples. As a government, and as a society, we must continue to work together with these communities toward reconciliation and create a province that truly meets their needs.
“We are placing a stronger focus on fighting racism and discrimination in B.C. This work is incredibly important as we have seen far too many examples of individuals targeted and scapegoated for their background, the colour of their skin or their faith over the past 18 months.
“Nobody should feel unsafe in their own communities, yet the reality is that many Indigenous and racialized people experience discrimination on a daily basis. We have seen it in the recent examples of racism in Kelowna and the rise in anti-Asian hate incidents in Vancouver, to ongoing systemic racism in government services that must be addressed.
“It is hurting our communities and having a lasting impact on too many British Columbians, putting up barriers that are stopping them from getting ahead. Now is the time to stand up and work toward change.
“As government, we are leading the way with anti-racism data legislation to create a safer, more equitable province. We will also introduce a new anti-racism act to better protect anyone who is experiencing discrimination and hatred. And we are listening to communities around the province to make sure that their experiences and concerns are properly addressed by this legislation.
“As we slowly emerge from the pandemic and look ahead to our future, I am hopeful that we are on the path to a province where everybody is valued and respected equally. During BC Multiculturalism Week, I encourage all British Columbians to reflect on the part you play in this work as we build a better future for ourselves and our children.”