The Province takes another step improving access to government programs and services for Indigenous Peoples and racialized communities, with the release of 12 priorities for anti-racism research.
Seven research priorities were put forward by the provincial Anti-Racism Data Committee. Indigenous Peoples recommended three research priorities and two priorities that set out how the Province should approach this research.
“Systemic racism and other forms of discrimination have shaped the delivery of government programs and services for generations,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “These research priorities will keep us focused on the areas that matter most to Indigenous Peoples and racialized communities, while we continue to take action to eliminate systemic racism in all our programs and services.”
The Anti-Racism Data Act (ARDA), which came into effect in June 2022, enables the safe collection and use of personal information for the purposes of identifying and eliminating systemic racism and advancing racial equity. ARDA requires the Province to establish and publish research priorities every two years, and annually release statistics or other information related to systemic racism and racial equity. ARDA also requires that the research priorities and information releases be done in a way that respects different cultures and minimizes harms to Indigenous Peoples and racialized communities.
“Everyone deserves equitable access to the public services they need,” said Niki Sharma, Attorney General. “These priorities were identified by people who are most impacted by systemic racism and provide a roadmap for how government can meaningfully improve services for more people.”
The implementation of ARDA aims to increase trust, transparency and accountability with Indigenous Peoples and racialized communities through continued collaboration on data initiatives under the act.
“The Anti-Racism Data Committee has built a foundation of trust, a climate of collaboration and a deep commitment to communities that have helped us to recommend the priorities that will drive research on systemic racism in government programs for the next two years,” said June Francis, chair, Anti-Racism Data Committee. “As we work toward racial equity, it was challenging for the committee to choose areas of focus as there are no ‘low’ priorities in this work. These research priorities will lead to insights that can be translated into tangible actions and change that should be felt by racialized people across B.C.”
Along with the research priorities, the Province released two other documents. The first-year progress report outlines the work done under ARDA over the past year. It includes information about important milestones like the creation and function of the Anti-Racism Data Committee and details about consultation and co-operation with Indigenous Peoples.
“The Anti-Racism Data Act is being implemented in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and racialized communities,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. “The research priorities not only outline our path forward but illustrate our commitment to transparency and collaboration every step of the way.”
The Guide on Using Categorical Race and Ethnicity Variables supports anti-racism research by giving practical advice to researchers about how to use race and ethnicity data in reporting, research and evaluation projects. It summarizes a best practices checklist to ensure data about race is used appropriately and includes nine recommendations with examples, case studies and a self-assessment.
Koby West, referrals co-ordinator, Natural Resources Department, Upper Similkameen Indian Band –
“These initiatives will assist First Nations to move beyond institutionalized denialism and publicly commit to addressing anti-Indigenous racism in British Columbia, using the necessary tools, such as data collection, information sharing and public reporting.”
Kasari Govender, B.C.’s human rights commissioner –
“By making systemic inequalities in our society more visible, data can lead to positive change. The implementation of my office’s recommendations through the ARDA marks a significant milestone in our province’s growth toward a more equal society. I continue to urge all those who are collecting and using demographic data that they take an intersectional approach to turn information into action, and meaningfully address systemic racism and other forms of oppression.”
Louis De Jaeger, Minister of Health, Métis Nation BC –
“Addressing systemic racism and ensuring the consistent and safe collection, use and disclosure of demographic data is critical to building trust between the Province of British Columbia and marginalized peoples. Particularly when it comes to Indigenous people, there has been a history of abuse pertaining to demographic data, which is why the Anti-Racism Data Act is important today, and for generations to come.”
Kimberlyn McGrail, professor in the School of Population and Public Health at UBC, and scientific director of Population Data BC and Health Data Research Network Canada –
“It is inspiring to see and be part of conversations about the use of race and ethnicity information in research. Data should help expose and address inequities; they should not be used to marginalize and oppress individuals or groups. The guidance is a clearly written and incredibly valuable resource for researchers and community members to use for research with effective outcomes.”
To learn more about the Anti-Racism Data Act and actions to date, visit: https://antiracism.gov.bc.ca/
A backgrounder follows.