Racism impacts people’s pride and participation in their community, as well as their overall sense of safety, health, security and happiness. We are all members of different and overlapping communities, so it is everyone’s responsibility to be involved in ending racism.
What is racism?
Racism is a set of mistaken assumptions, opinions and actions resulting from the belief that one group of people categorized by colour or ancestry is inherently superior to another. Racism may be present in organizational and institutional policies, programs and practices, as well as in the attitudes and behaviour of individuals.
How do stereotypes perpetuate racism and discrimination?
People often use stereotypes that generalize a person or a group of people based on their ethnicity, religion, ancestry, culture, physical, developmental or mental attributes, gender or sexual orientation. These stereotypes can lead to prejudice and bias, which can become motivations for discrimination.
How does racism affect victims?
All racism is hurtful. People who are victims of racial discrimination can often feel excluded, lonely, angry, and sad. It may make them so uncomfortable that they feel alienated and will not participate in their communities.
What can I do if I witness or am a victim of racism?
Racist acts and behaviour can take many forms, including comments, remarks or acts of violence. Hate crimes are criminal offenses.
If you experience racism, there are different actions you can take:
- Connect with a community agency to get support. There are various organizations in British Columbia that can provide support for victims of racism, including those in Organizing Against Racism and Hate (OARH) communities across the province.
- Document details of what happened or is happening on an ongoing basis, including the dates, the times and as much information as you can provide about the incident.
- If you experience racism in your workplace, speak to your immediate supervisor or manager and let them know how the racist behaviour is affecting you. There may be policies and procedures in your organization to address these issues.
- File a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal
If you witness racism such as a racist remark or racist joke it is important to speak up. Let the person know that such remarks or jokes are offensive.
What is a hate crime?
In Canada, a hate crime is defined as any criminal offense against a person, group or property that is motivated by hatred or prejudice towards an identifiable group. The following are the identifiable groups outlined in the Criminal Code of Canada:
- Mental or Physical Disability
- Sex or Sexual Orientation
For more information about how to report a hate crime, visit Report Hate Crime.
How does the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protect people from racism and hate crime?
It is illegal to advocate genocide, publicly incite hatred or wilfully promote hatred based on national or ethnic origin, race, religion, skin colour and sexual orientation. Depending on the situation, the use of racist slurs may not be illegal under the Criminal Code of Canada. However, the person using them may subject themselves to an investigation under federal human rights legislation. The use of such terms is not tolerated in Canadian society.
What else can I do to help prevent racism?
We all have the ability to prevent racism and create positive change in our communities. Just by taking a few minutes to visit this website, you have taken the first steps to create change.
Racism comes in many forms. And so do the ways to address it. Here are some things you can do to address racism:
- Recognize the important role that you play in your neighbourhood, your school, your workplace and your community and understand that your actions can prevent racism and create positive change.
- Don’t use stereotypes.
- Welcome and interact with people in your community. You may find that generalizations about different groups of people are not accurate once you get to know them.
- When you see an act of racism, challenge the behaviour but not the person. Encourage thoughtful dialogue to address the issue.
- Celebrate what makes us unique as British Columbians and as Canadians: our multiculturalism.