The racial incident in a Courtenay parking lot in July 2009, which became an Internet viral video, has hung over the Comox Valley for 18 months.
A year later, Judge Peter Doherty found all three guilty of assault in the case he described as “permeated with the acid fog of racism.”
The trial concluded in late December, when he sentenced the three assailants for assault, identifying one, David White, as having committed a hate crime for his racist remarks during the incident.
This Sunday, the Community Justice Centre invites the Comox Valley to participate in a community dialogue about racism and what can the community do to prevent future incidents and contribute to creating a more inclusive, diverse, and welcoming Comox Valley.
“This incident cast a dark shadow over our community,” says dialogue organizer Bruce Curtis, chief administrator of the local Community Justice Centre. “Now that the formal legal proceedings have been concluded, it is time to understand the past and forge ahead with improving our capacity to respond in the future.”
Participants in the dialogue include many of the key players in the response to the incident: investigating RCMP officers, public rally organizers, the Crown prosecutor, reporters of the story, and the victim’s mother.
Also participating will be many of the signatories of the Critical Incident Response Protocol, which was ratified by over 45 community groups, multicultural organizations, faith groups, and most local governments.
“This year, with support from the B.C. and federal governments and our partners from the Signatories Group, we are presenting a series of dialogues in January, February and March aimed at enhancing community awareness of these issues,” he added.
During the opening session, three individuals have agreed to share their direct experiences of racism in the Comox Valley that describes the wide range of racism from violent assaults through verbal bullying and including the subtle racism experienced in daily life in the workplace, classrooms, and in social groups.
The second section of the dialogue will hear from the key players and provide an opportunity for participants to pursue their questions and concerns about the impact of the event and its meaning.
The third section will provide participants the chance to review the Critical Incident Response Protocol and the City of Courtenay Statement of Community Values and consider what further actions governments and organizations may be encouraged to take.
The dialogue runs this Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the K’ómoks Band Hall on the Dyke Road between Comox and Courtenay.
To register, call 250-334-8101 and leave your name, phone number, and e-mail address. Registration in advance will help to identify needed refreshments and materials, but there may be spaces available right up to the start time, so drop by even if you haven’t registered in advance.