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New publication delves into racist history as B.C. prepare to mark 150th anniversary

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The authors of a new open-source publication are hoping to harness the 150th anniversary of British Columbia’s entry into confederation to open a conversation around racism in the province.

The 80-page illustrated booklet, titled Challenging Racist “British Columbia”: 150 years and counting is a joint initiative between the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the University of Victoria research project Asian Canadians on Vancouver Island: Race, Indigeneity, and the Transpacific.

B.C. joined Canada on July 20, 1871.

“This engaging resource has been designed to assist anti-racist educators, teachers, scholars, policymakers and individuals doing anti-racism work to help pierce the silences that too often have let racism grow in our communities, corporations and governments,” states a media release from the CCPA.

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The seven co-authors, including academics, community activits and a judge, situate the book in the context of the renewed civil rights movement amid Black Lives Matters protests, the Wet’suwet’en conflict and the unresolved issue of Indigenous rights and title in the province and recent increased anti-Asian racism amid COVID-19.

The publication includes chapters on the legacy of colonialism on Indigenous peoples in the province, the origins of B.C.’s Black, Chinese and South Asian communities and the internment of Japanese Canadians, which it describes as an attempt at ethnic cleansing.


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It also devotes space to overt acts of racial discrimination like the disenfranchisement of Indigenous and Chinese people along with the enduring challenge of systemic racism.

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“In bringing to light the histories and experiences of Black, Indigenous, and racialized people, this resource is our effort to provide a truthful account of the history of ‘British Columbia,’” said Christine O’Bonsawin, co-author and former director of Indigenous Studies at the University of Victoria.

“This book offers a bold, honest, historical correction to the false narrative that Canada is exempt from white supremacy and racist nation state formations,” added co-author Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra, the coordinator of the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley.

“This book is the exact resource needed in this pivotal moment where an anti-racist movement continues to take shape. It is a resource for activists, students, educators, community professionals — it is a resource for all.”

The publication is available for free at challengeracistbc.ca.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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