Eradicating Racism and Hate Crime
VICTORIA - This year marks the 25th anniversary of B.C.’s Multiculturalism Act. In 1993, when the act was first created, residential schools remained open in Canada. A ban preventing Sikhs from wearing turbans in the RCMP had only just been lifted. The provincial cabinet included just one person of colour. We have made significant strides in 25 years. However, like many of you, I feel and observe an unsettling change in our society. This change is occurring in daily life both off and on line. People’s symbols of faith are being challenged in Quebec. A new Canadian political party is using issues of public safety and immigration to stir up hate. Here in B.C., we have seen people targeted on public transit for who they are or how they dress. And, sadly, racism has led to recent horrific hate crimes both south of the border as well as here in our own country. This is a critical moment in our society. It’s up to us as individuals, as human beings, to build these bridges. Tolerance is no longer enough. Instead, we must strive for equity, acceptance and inclusion. Our government takes this responsibility seriously. We have reestablished a B.C. Human Rights Commission with the power to address systematic discrimination in our society. As part of our commitment to true and lasting recon- ciliation, we will be fully adopting and implementing the United Nations declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples and the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. These are just first steps, but they won’t be the last. This Multiculturalism Week, our pledge as a government is to meet hate and intolerance headon for the sake of our beautifully diverse province. I ask all British Columbians to do the same.