Take the challenge to fight racism

North Okanagan residents can take a stand against racism.

An initiative has been launched by the Respect Network in which residents in the Thompson-Okanagan can take an anti-racism challenge by March 21. The challenge is available at www.respectnetwork.ca

“Individuals can go on to the website and commit to the value statements on there,” said Annette Sharkey, with the North Okanagan Social Planning Council.

“That results in a vote being attributed to the community. We want to see which community has the most participants.”

The Social Planning Council is the lead agency in the Respect Network, a consortium of organizations throughout the region.

The member agencies include the Vernon and District Immigrant Services Society, and the North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society

Sharkey admits that intolerance exists in the region.

“A lot of people may not see the overt racism but there  is a lot of subtle racism,’ she said.

Among the ways racism and hate are exhibited are bullying, name calling, slurs, distribution of materials encouraging prejudice, violence or threats of violence, vandalism, threatening phone calls, physical assaults and hate mail and e-mails

Sharkey is confident residents in the Thompson-Okanagan will embrace the Respect Network’s message.

“It all comes down to respecting our differences and looking at the positive ways that diversity enriches our communities,” she said.

“It may be a case of not tolerating racial jokes.”

The website includes information about racism and hate and what individuals can do in their community.

For more information, e-mail info@socialplanning.ca