BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres Engagement Report
“Good data requires safety and transparency in the way that data is collected and for what purpose – people do not want to be recorded, especially programs for vulnerable/at risk people.”
The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) hosted 2 engagement sessions with representatives from Friendship Centres around the province to discuss the Government of British Columbia’s proposed Anti-Racism Data Legislation. A total of 36 participants attended across the two sessions, including members of the Elders Council, Peer Review Committee and the Provincial Aboriginal Youth Council.
Key learnings from the engagement sessions include:
Consultation and Time: Sufficient time should be given by the Government of BC to engage BCAAFC community members especially under precarious times intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unexpected flooding of BC.
Trust: Trust is an overarching theme that Friendship Centre (FC) participants spoke to throughout the two engagement sessions. FC community members have legitimate concerns regarding how the data they collect will be used by non-Indigenous organizations as data has often been used to negatively identify Indigenous peoples.
Transparency and accountability: FCs commented on the need for transparency and accountability. The government needs to have mechanisms in place so that communities can hold government accountable when it perpetuates harm, especially the urban Indigenous population that is not necessarily covered by a political governing body.
Urban population and reciprocity: Legislation should take seriously the unique needs of the urban/off-reserve population and the insight FCs provide by understanding the unique urban political landscape. Most legislation often takes an on-reserve, land based approach when defining who is “Indigenous”. The distinction-based approach can at times neglect the urban population.
Indigenous peoples and communities are all too familiar with research and data collection as a colonial process to legitimize colonialism. Though the legislation is not unique to Indigenous peoples as it is intended to capture the data of all racialized communities in BC, the specific relationship Indigenous peoples have with this legislation is unique due to the fact that Indigenous peoples have a historical relationship with the Province and with the Crown that other racialized communities do not. The provincial government has stated that the legislation will be guided by the OCAP (ownership, control, access, and possession) principles, in doing so; the voices of all Indigenous peoples (on and off-reserve) is crucial for this legislation to be done in a good way.