The provincial government has chosen Masset as the next community for its “anti-racism network building project”.
Asha Bhat, manager of the anti-racism and multi-culturalism unit at the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services, said the first step in the program is to create an opportunity for dialogue. Workers from a multi-cultural society in Vancouver will be coming up to Masset – probably in January – to start the dialogue.
If Masset is interested in continuing the anti-racism work, Ms Bhat said, the community will have a chance to take on a project of its choice with up to $10,000 from the ministry.
“It’s a very metered and hopefully a very contemplative approach to dealing with issues of racism,” she said. “We’re trying to create a model for local governments.”
The final step in the three-step process, Ms Bhat said, is for the community to form a steering committee, which will then come up with a written response model for how the community will deal with any racism or hate-related incidents. Steering committee members usually include representatives from local band councils, the municipal government, RCMP, health organizations and individuals, but it’s up to each community to decide who will be involved.
Ms Bhat compared this step to a community coming up with an emergency plan, or a flood plan: “Nobody wants a flood, but we all plan for it.”
Five BC communities, including Terrace, have already finished this final step and now have a written response plan in place.
The fact that Masset was chosen is not an indication that racism is a problem here, Ms Bhat said.
So far, no communities have turned down the chance to be involved in the anti-racism work, she continued.
“People seem really excited,” she said. “So far, there’s been a great response.”
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