The Penticton-based immigrant service group South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services (SOICS) is continuing to work to create a more inclusive community and call attention to the ongoing issue of racism and discrimination in the Okanagan.
SOICS’ new video titled What Do You See?, released May 6 in collaboration with the Okanagan Chambers COVID Response Coalition (#OKWeGotThis), aims to raise awareness around the ongoing problem of racism towards ethnic minorities and the Indigenous community.
The video begins by using real audio from racist incidents in the Okanagan.
Members of communities across the Okanagan including Oliver, Penticton, Peachland, Kelowna, Vernon, Salmon Arm and Kamloops are featured in the video.
Dan Rogers, executive director of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of #OKWeGotThis, said now is a very important time to speak up against racism.
“Chambers of Commerce are grass roots organizations that know how important it is for leading business associations like ours to speak up when racism raises its ugly head and unfortunately it seems the pandemic has led to an increase in such activity,” Rogers said.
“Our future success is very much linked to putting out the welcome mat for newcomers to the region and also not being silent when there is an act of racism. So supporting SOICS on this powerful video only made sense.”
The #OkWeGotThis initiative started over a year ago as a means for Chambers of Commerce in the Okanagan to work collaboratively to support those businesses and organizations that are facing challenges as a result of COVID-19.
SOICS executive director Cherry Fernandez said the video was inspired by a comment from her three-year-old daughter.
“After months of being withdrawn from children her age, my 3-year old’s question ‘do you like being brown?’ gives insight that even at a young age she was being singled out as different based on her ethnicity,” Fernandez said. “It demonstrates that discrimination, racism, and hate impact us all, even our most vulnerable – our children.”
Research shows that children not only recognize race from a very young age, but also develop racial biases by the ages of three to five. However, instances of racism and discrimination unfortunately stretch far beyond childhood, said a press release from SOICS.
The video’s messaging is clear: Be proud of who you are and always remember that you are not alone.
SOICS hopes the video will be a launching pad for increasing awareness, stimulating conversation and building greater understanding. SOICS also hopes to provide tools to be an ally and be a part of creating more inclusive communities.
Watch the video below and find out more about anti-racism initiatives at soics.ca.