Vanessa Sjo organized an anti-racism rally through the streets of Victoria in June 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)

Vanessa Sjo organized an anti-racism rally through the streets of Victoria in June 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)

71% BIPOC experience racism in Greater Victoria, report finds

Residents report feeling undervalued, isolated and unsafe due to race, ethnicity

A recently released report takes a look at racism in Greater Victoria and documents the barriers, discrimination and harassment racialized people frequently experience in the region.

Through a survey and community engagement session in late 2020, the Racism in Greater Victoria report reveals that, of those who responded, the majority (71 per cent) of Black, Indigenous, Asian and People of Colour have experienced racism in the last five years.

“People seem to think that there is no racism here but the only people I’ve heard that from are white folks who tend to spin it as, ‘well it wasn’t really racism … they were just overreacting.’ Having our experiences of racism belittled and dismissed does even more harm,” one respondent wrote.

Additionally, 70 per cent of BIPOC participants said they felt undervalued, isolated and unsafe because of their race or ethnicity. Those feelings derive from a wide variety of negative experiences from enduring online and in-person harassment, to being provided inadequate service or denied entry to a space, to having people act surprised when they can do certain things, such as speak English.

READ ALSO: B.C. is not exempt: New report documents 150 years of racism and the fight against it

A graphic created from participants’ input in the Racism in Greater Victoria report. (Susana Guardado/Racism in Greater Victoria report)

“It has made me extremely angry and bitter towards the fact that the people of my own hometown will never consider me to be truly Canadian or local, simply based on my appearance,” a respondent wrote.

Of those who responded, 43 per cent said they experienced racism a few times a year, 18 per cent said monthly, another 18 per cent said weekly, 16 per cent said daily, and five per cent said never. Another 30 per cent specified they had experienced racism with local police.

READ ALSO: ‘Pattern of systemic racism’: SD61 Indigenous committee member resigns, calls for change

(Susana Guardado/Racism in Greater Victoria report)

The report was created by the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, which says the results reaffirm what BIPOC in the region already knew – racism is real and must be addressed.

Respondents made a number of suggestions including increased accountability from government and institutions – tougher hate crime and discrimination laws, anti-racism training, and defunding the police – and from individuals – calling out and intervening in racist situations. They emphasized that there needs to be more diverse leadership and better data collection on racism, including deep dives into different types.

Participants added that the burden of change cannot lay solely on BIPOC. Others need to step up too.

The full report can be read at icavictoria.org.

READ ALSO: Royal BC Museum faces allegations of systemic racism, toxic work environment


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