The network group working to stem racism in Williams Lake is planning to roll out its educational campaign in mid-February, says Margaret-Anne Enders, Canadian Mental Health Association multiculturalism co-ordinator.
Last fall CMHA received a grant of $10,000 from the B.C. Ministry of International Trade to form a community-based anti-racism networking group tasked solely with launching a media-based anti-racism awareness campaign.
So far the network includes 20 people, with representatives from the City of Williams Lake, Cariboo Regional District, First Nation and Indo-Canadian communities, Thompson Rivers University, School District 27, Safer Communities, Women’s Contact Society, the local multiculturalism group, plus other interested individuals.
Earlier this month Enders facilitated a brainstorming session with about a dozen of the network members and media representatives.
She says the committee is open to anyone who would like to contribute to the discussion and may have ideas and stories to add to the educational campaign.
The committee would particularly like to hear from people who have experienced racism in order to gain a better understanding of their issues.
There is a proposal to post snippets of information about different aspects of racism on a weekly basis in local newspapers, radio and with all forms of visual and social media. The network committee is also brainstorming other ways to raise awareness about racism.
As discussed by those at the meeting, racism and its relatives, bullying and stereotyping are complicated social issues often born of fear, ignorance and even innocence.
For instance children and teens often use the term “that’s so gay” to describe something that is stupid or lame, not realizing that it is actually a social slur against a certain group of people.
Each meeting the committee leaders start with a quote to inspire thought and discussion about the issue of racism.
The quote for this meeting came from the Australia Human Rights Commission, National Anti-Racism Strategy, July 2012.
“Racism can have serious consequences for the people who experience it. It can shatter their confidence and their sense of worth. It can undermine their ability to perform at work or in their studies. It can also affect their physical health and life expectancy. More broadly, racism locks people out of social and economic opportunities, entrenching disadvantage. it adds unnecessary costs to our workplaces and our economy and it works against our goal of building a fair, inclusive community. Ultimately, racism hurts us all.”