Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo

Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

The B.C. government is reinforcing the importance of several anti-racism initiatives, as a part of efforts to combat racism and support racialized communities.

Their statements coincide with Black Shirt Day, and the birth date of Martin Luther King Jr.

Black Shirt Day was created to show solidarity with Black and racialized communities in B.C. in their ongoing struggle for equity, equality and justice.

A recently-proposed anti-racism awareness campaign, the government explained, is part of a $1.9 million investment to make B.C. safer and more inclusive. Part of the funding will support initiatives addressing racism. This was previously outlined in the Parlimentary Secretary’s mandate letter in November, 2020.

It serves as the first anti-racism act in B.C. history.

Previously in December, a petition from Anti-Racism Coalition Vancouver called on B.C. Minister of Education, Jennifer Whiteside, to designate Jan. 15 as Black Shirt Day. Over 10,000 have since signed it.

READ MORE: Petition calling for official anti-racism Black Shirt Day gaining traction in B.C.

“On this day, we remember how he (Martin Luther King Jr.) inspired millions of people to join together in the push to end racism, and how far we still have to go to create a world where everyone is treated equally, regardless of race or the colour of their skin,” said Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, and Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education, in a joint statement on Jan. 15.

Although education in B.C. teaches about Black history, including the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the underground railroad, the government stated there is more work to be done, “to ensure an anti-racism lens is core in B.C.’s curriculum.”

As a result, the government will be examining resources for students and teachers, supporting community projects that address racism, and introducing B.C.’s first anti-racism and disaggregated, race-based data collection.

However, Singh and Whiteside said this alone is not enough.

“We need everyone in B.C. to stand together in this fight and to show that discrimination in any form will not be tolerated.”

They applauded the Black Shirt Day initiative.

“We believe B.C. should be a province that works for everybody. It is only by working together, we can make this dream a reality.”

Editors note: A previous version of this story stated the announcement of B.C.’s first anti-racism act took place today, Jan. 15, 2020. This is not the case. The set of anti-racism initiatives were announced in November, 2020, in the Parliamentary Secretary’s mandate letter.

READ MORE: Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: phil.mclachlan@kelownacapnews.com


 

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