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Richmond community activists call for more action on racism

A draft protocol on how to deal with hate crimes was developed by a local multicultural agency.
Karina Reid will present to council on March 22 on anti-racism.

A local activist is calling on the City of Richmond to commission a racism audit and do more than what is mandated in its current Cultural Harmony Plan.

Karina Reid is scheduled to make a presentation to council on March 22 on the topic.

In a letter to the city, Reid claims there is no anti-racism training or policies or collection of data on race-based hate crimes in the Cultural Harmony Plan.

Premier John Horgan noted recently anti-Asian hate crime was up 717 per cent in 2020 in Vancouver.

Reid said she was “horrified” when she heard this, and, given that 76 per cent of Richmond’s population belongs to a visible minority, she’d like to see more action, rather than just a focus on harmony and diversity.

In a letter to the city, she says Richmond “needs to stop talking about diversity and start acting with anti-racism and equity policy changes. Creating a diverse and inclusive community is no longer enough.”

Reid sits on the Richmond School District’s Diversity and Anti-Racism Working Group.

Recently the board of education approved funding for a racism audit for the school district, and Reid said this is something she’d like to see the city do as well.

“If you don’t have an audit, how will you know where you have to rebuild from?” Reid said. “We need to know what we’re dealing with.”

City council approved the Cultural Harmony Plan two years ago, but Reid said, while cultural harmony and diversity are important, she would like to see the city go farther.

“Unless you say the words ‘unconscious bias,’ unless you say the words ‘white supremacy,’ unless you say the majority of the people move through this world being racist and that we need to work to be anti-racist daily, we’re missing the point of cultural harmony,” Reid said.

Richmond city Coun. Chak Au said he thinks the Cultural Harmony Plan takes a “soft touch” approach.

He said he’s asked the RCMP to develop a special task force to deal with hate crime, but he was told they have a team working on the issue.

Meanwhile, a draft protocol to deal with hate crime was developed already in 2018 by Richmond Multicultural Community Services as the lead agency, but this still hasn’t been adopted by the city.

Au said it would give guidelines to the city and all agencies on how to deal with hate crimes “on a unified basis.”

“If someone does something, everyone would know what to do,” Au said. “It would set the stage for better handling of hate crime.”

He plans to bring up the protocol to council in the near future.

In her presentation to council, Reid will talk about what other cities are doing, for example, the City of Vancouver has hired an equity commissioner.

Reid would also like to see a reconciliation strategy and action plan adopted by the city toward First Nations groups.