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Mayor Kennedy declares May 29 'Day of Action Against Racism' in Vancouver

"As a city, we need to unite to address racism and recognize that people of all ethnicities, cultures and faiths contribute to Vancouver’s strength and well-being," said Kennedy.
Kennedy Stewart is mayor of the city of Vancouver. Photo by Jennifer Gauthier

Mayor Kennedy Stewart announced today that this Friday will be a Day of Action Against Racism.

Stewart issued a multi-lingual proclamation declaring that Friday, May 29 will be a Day of Action Against Racism and that, "as a City of Reconciliation, Vancouver is committed to addressing racism and hate."

The proclamation, which also recognizes that racism has long been a part of Vancouver’s history and that we need to learn the mistakes of the past, is part of a province-wide campaign to raise public awareness and encourage individuals, businesses, community organizations, and associations to take a public stand against racism.

"As a city, we need to unite to address racism and recognize that people of all ethnicities, cultures and faiths contribute to Vancouver’s strength and well-being," said Kennedy.

“Earlier this week, for example, I held a meeting with leaders from the Asian community and allied organizations to discuss the surge in hate-related crimes, especially those that are race-motivated. Around that virtual roundtable, and in spite of the troubling impact on too many members of this community, the group came back again and again to positive solutions that draw on Vancouver’s core strength – its diversity."

Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, there has been a significant increase in the number of anti-Asian racist and xenophobic incidents. Last week, Vancouver Police Department (VPD) announced that 77 hate crimes and incidents have been reported to them in 2020, compared to 51 in the same period last year.

To date this year alone, police say they've opened 29 investigative files for anti-Asian crime. During the same period in 2019, there were four. 

Premier John Horgan released a statement regarding a surge in racist activity across British Columbia during the COVID-19 pandemic on Victoria Day.

Horgan remarks that, “Everyone has a right to live without fear of violence or discrimination. Yet we are hearing disturbing stories of a rise in anti-Asian racist behaviour since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Horgan adds that people are being targeted as they go about their daily lives, and that the behaviour is unacceptable. 

In response to COVID-19, the City of Vancouver has established an Equity and Inclusion team with the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to support community resilience, help lower barriers to accessing timely, critical information and work to ensure historically underrepresented groups disproportionately impacted by the pandemic are part of emergency response.

This team has organized an ongoing series of virtual town halls for groups that have been historically discriminated against and marginalized to provide feedback and ask questions to the City Manager and COVID-19 Task Force Chief.

The City has also provided funding to the Chinatown Business Improvement Association to cover additional security costs for the area, and is in frequent contact with community groups in the neighbourhood to offer additional support.

“Racism, hate and xenophobia have no place in our city, and the recent spike in anti-Asian sentiment is extremely disturbing”, City Manager, Sadhu Johnston said. “I have heard, during the town halls and in general from community, that targeted xenophobia and anti-Asian racism is making it even more of a struggle for people to cope with the impacts of the pandemic. We are committed to ensuring that every resident feels welcome in Vancouver and will continue to take action, both during the pandemic and beyond, to address racist behaviour.”

The City has created a set of translated resources, including posters and social media graphics, which residents and businesses are encouraged to download (LINK) and share to help reiterate that there is no place for racism in Vancouver.

Anyone who experiences or witnesses racism or a hate crime can report it to the police, or to an organization such as the BC Human Rights Commission. VPD is working to reduce barriers that may prevent reporting, including developing a system that will allow victims to report non-emergency incidents in Cantonese and Mandarin.