Beairsto Elementary students created self-portraits which were displayed at the Vernon Public Art Gallery last year to showcase the different faces of the community. (Video still)

VIDEO: Anti-racism efforts mounting in North Okanagan

Two community engagement sessions on race-based data collection coming up next week

Efforts to combat racism in the North Okanagan are in abundance with the release of a new informative video and a pair of upcoming community engagement sessions.

The B.C. government has released funding in order to gather input from citizens about race-based data collection. Independent Living Vernon (ILV) is one of the organizations chosen to receive funding, and as a result they will be hosting two online community consultations via Zoom.

The first session is Tuesday, Jan. 11 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. The second takes place Wednesday, Jan. 12, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The sessions won’t be recorded for privacy reasons, but ILV will have note-takers on hand to document input based on the discussion questions.

ILV has stated a number of goals for the sessions. The first is to invite perspectives on different ways to categorize race, ethnicity, ancestry and faith, which would help the government to better understand how British Columbians prefer to identify themselves before race-based data is collected.

The second goal is to invite participants to share how they would want to provide this information to the government, as well as how the information should be accessed and used.

Another goal is to have participants share their thoughts on which government services have the most inequities and require the greatest need for change.

“In short, these consultation sessions will focus on the use and collection of race-based data legislation within B.C.,” ILV said.

To register for the upcoming sessions, email laura@ilvernon.ca to receive a Zoom link and session documents.

People can also complete a survey on the development of anti-racism legislation. The survey is available here and can be filled out until Jan. 31.

Other anti-racism efforts have already taken shape in Vernon. A new video titled Allyship in Action was shot in Vernon and showcases three different ways individuals and organizations took action to fight racism in the community.

The six-minute video begins with the story of an early morning paddleboarding excursion to Stand Up Against Racism. The video then tells the stories of school-aged children celebrating their diversity in self-portraits, and includes lessons on how to be an ally from two Indigenous educators.

“The video is available for anyone to view and is suitable for sharing as a discussion starter. We hope it makes people think about why it’s important for society to have public demonstrations against racism, and to question how we can all be part of creating safer, more inclusive spaces,” said Annette Sharkey, executive director for the Social Planning Council for the North Okanagan, which sponsored the video production.

Sharkey says free workshops and webinars are in the works for 2022 to help the public learn more about racism and being an ally.

READ MORE: Kelowna-based Chinese organization receives grant to help fight racisim

READ MORE: Little progress made to combat anti-Indigenous racism in B.C. health care: report


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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The Social Planning Council for the North Okanagan is showcasing a new video about anti-racism and allyship, helping viewers to understand what they can do to combat racism. (Submitted photo)

The Social Planning Council for the North Okanagan is showcasing a new video about anti-racism and allyship, helping viewers to understand what they can do to combat racism. (Submitted photo)