B.C.’s head of anti-racism was in Penticton on Friday, May 12, to speak to how the province plans on tackling systemic discrimination.
The province’s Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, Vancouver-Kensington MLA Mable Elmore, appeared before a large crowd at the Lakeside Resort for the Confronting the White Elephant, Exploring Anti-Racism forum.
It marked her first visit to the region since being to named to the role in December 2022.
The event was hosted by the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services Society throughout the day.
“These are difficult, challenging conversations to have but so important,” Elmore said. “We know racism hurts, it injures, it kills…there’s a commitment from the government to understand that, recognize what’s happened and to make efforts to repair that harm, hurt and that injury.”
Elmore’s talk at the event was preceded by an appearance on stage from Penticton MLA Dan Ashton. Both members of the B.C. legislative, although on opposite sides of the floor, said Friday they are working together to distribute an upcoming survey to learn more about people’s experiences with racism.
“We need your help to identify how we move forward,” Elmore said. “We’re committed to undertaking a consultation with all British Columbians because we’re all in it together.”
The Vancouver-Kensington MLA was first elected in 2009 and acknowledged Friday that there’s lots of work to be done when it comes to addressing systemic discrimination in all its forms.
“B.C. as a province actually has a record of passing some of the most explicitly racist pieces of legislation in our country,” she said. “It’s pretty shocking, but that’s the reality.”
Along with currently reviewing the police act, Elmore added that the province has implemented anti-racism initiatives in schools and in healthcare spaces.
She says a new anti-racism action plan, for instance, engages teachers, parents and students in schools from kindergarten to Grade 12, province-wide.
“How do we better understand each other?” she asked. “That’s really critical and key to all this.”
Friday’s conference ran from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and featured several speakers and musical performances from across the South Okanagan and the rest of B.C.