Expletives were spray-painted on the concrete in front of the entrance to Ḗcole au coeur de I’île earlier this year. (Due to the sensitive nature of the subject, photos have been edited.) Facebook photo.

Funds will strengthen Comox Valley organization’s anti-racism supports

The Comox Valley Community Justice Centre is receiving $7,500 from the province in its efforts to strengthen anti-hate and anti-racism supports in B.C. communities.

The CJC developed a Critical Incident Response Protocol, signed by 22 organizations and agencies in 2009.

At a witnessing ceremony in 2016, the signatory agencies increased to 45 when the protocol was revised to include a greater number of groups and individuals in the community.

“Under the protocol, we are a public education and a reporting agency for incidents of racism,” CJC chief administrator Bruce Curtis said. “What we do is provide support for victims of racism and racist assaults and racist harassment.”

The centre has developed a specific form of restorative justice called short-term transformative dialogue between complainants and respondents. It also provides information and support for victims if the respondent doesn’t wish to participate.

For this year, the Justice Centre proposes to provide support and service to organizations in the development of internal anti-racism policies.

“We’re hoping that will have an impact on local organizations in reducing systemic racism,” Curtis said. “We continue to be open to receiving reports of racism, and providing support to the victims of racism.

“We’re blinded by our own systemic biases, and our cultural biases so that we don’t see it,” he added.

Curtis notes that First Nations often “feel” the eyes of store clerks at malls just because they are Indigenous, and that Chinese individuals are reporting consequences of the coronavirus and the racism it is engendering. He also notes the Jewish and Muslim communities will also disclose the same thing.

“Even the francophone community, which always surprises me,” he said, recalling racist graffiti on the front doors early this year at École au coeur de I’île in Comox.

“When you look at it over time, it’s not that there’s a racist incident every day, but there are public ones that occur with such regularity — two, maybe three, maybe four in a year — people tend to forget them…It goes on and on and on. Sometimes we wonder whether there’s anything that can be done about it. Quite frankly, it is something that is learned in the home, so we continue to work on public education as much as we can.”

But Curtis is hopeful about the next generation. He finds that people in the 13 to 28 age bracket are “astoundingly accepting” of a wide range of diversity in terms of gender, race, faith and sexual orientation.

“They seem to be amazingly accepting of just about anything.”

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