VICTORIA, B.C. – Earlier this week, the B.C. Green Caucus sent a letter to Premier Horgan requesting that the Province formally recognize the UN International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) and deliver on previous commitments to address anti-Black racism in B.C.
“We are now approaching the seventh year of the decade without formal recognition from the Government of British Columbia,” said B.C. Green Party leader MLA Sonia Furstenau for Cowichan Valley. “Without formal recognition from the province, B.C.’s Black-led grassroots organizations are not eligible to receive any of the $25 million allocated in the 2018 federal budget as a part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to Black Canadians when they formally recognized the IDPAD.
“It is long overdue that the provincial government take stronger action on systemic racism while acknowledging the contributions of Black communities, both past and present, throughout the province.”
The B.C. Green Caucus had originally planned on bringing forward a letter of support with the IDPAD Advisory Committee during the previous minority government, but the provincial election was called on the same day. During the election, the Greens committed to continuing this work and included calling for provincial recognition of the IDPAD in the election platform.
“With only three years left in this historic decade, it's time African descent communities receive meaningful recognition and support from the NDP government,” said Boma Brown, an IDPAD Advisory Committee member and Founder of The Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Color. “We need Provincial support focused on mental/physical health, education, democratic engagement, and capacity building for black-led organizations.”
The B.C. Green Caucus supports all the recommendations made by the IDPAD B.C. Advisory Committee. And in addition to their four specific requests, the Green Caucus calls upon government to:
Form an all-party parliamentary committee dedicated to addressing systemic racism against those that identify as Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Colour;
Work with the Public Health Officer’s team and the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner to collect disaggregated data to inform B.C.’s COVID-19 response;
Have the Minister of Education make a formal commitment to expand the scope of the anti-racism roundtable on education to include post-secondary studies and reform the provincial curriculum to include B.C.’s Black history; and,
Make targeted investments, in consultation with the IDPAD B.C. Advisory Committee and paid consultants, in the existing grassroots organizations led by Black community leaders here in B.C., so they can be eligible for the IDPAD federal funding.
“Although it is encouraging that every Minister and Parliamentary Secretary has equity and anti-racism foundational principles in their mandates, equity and anti-racism cannot just be blanket statements,” said MLA Adam Olsen, Saanich North and the Islands and member of the Tsartlip First Nation. “We need to see plans with a timeline from every Ministry, so that we know their words will be put into action."
“As legislators, it is our responsibility to take action on the systemic anti-Black racism that exists in British Columbia and support Black communities in our province. It will take systemic change to ensure that we move beyond words to achieve the outcomes that we all wish to see,” said MLA Furstenau. “Let’s take the steps to demonstrate that we truly do believe that Black Lives Matter in formally declaring the IDPAD and making a commitment to improving the future of all Black British Columbians.”
B.C. Green Caucus
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