The chair for B.C.’s anti-racism data committee says she’s looking for very specific guildelines for the government to ensure they are “mandated or forced” to do something about the systemic gaps that have been illuminated in the past year.
Dr. June Francis and the rest of the committee are gearing up to release statistics and come up with research priorities this June based on the work they’ve been doing the last six months. She said the committee has been collecting data in “safe, but effective ways to illuminate the problem with racism” and to address racial inequities.
“We want to know that there’s going to be teeth,” explained Francis, a professor at Simon Fraser University, whose work focuses on equity, diversity and inclusion for racialized groups. “We collect data, we show the gaps, but where’s the teeth? And where’s the funding for this? Those are big questions. We need more money to actually implement this.”
The Anti-Racism Data Act was released about a year ago, while the committee members were selected in September 2022 and have been meeting monthly since in communities around the Lower Mainland, with plans for the rest of B.C.
Asked if the committee is moving at a speed with which she’s happy with, Francis said it “can only move at the speed of trust.”
That was the most important thing to establish six months ago, she said.
“We come from many different communities that have been divided by racism because racism does act to divide and conquer Indigenous communities,” she said. “We first had to learn about each other. We had to make sure that there was room so that we could have the honest conversations and the other conversations that are hard to have.”
Francis said the committee had to be anti-racist, decolonial and safe before they could do the work.
“I think every racialized community has had the experience of in bringing forward issues and being harmed by it.”
B.C.’s Attorney General Nikki Sharma said it’s been a “really profound and transformative process” working with the committee.
“The goal at the end of the day is removing the systemic racism that exists in our systems, which is really important work.”
But, Sharma noted that is work that will need to be done for “years to come.”
“We’re a colonial government that was built on a lot of destructive policies,” she explained, pointing to Japanese Canadians that were forced from their homes in the Second World War and sent to internment camps as the committe met at the Japanese Hall in downtown Vancouver Friday (April 14).