Over the years, we've been working on a number of anti-racism initiatives to create a more equitable Vancouver.
Through both modest and comprehensive action, we are working to tackle racism and white supremacy within the City and Vancouver. This is an urgent priority.
Bookmark this webpage for updates, or receive quarterly updates on anti-racism, cultural redress, and equity actions straight to your inbox by signing up for our newsletter.
Countering anti-Asian racism
We are deeply saddened and angered by the level of anti-Asian hate crimes in Vancouver, reported by community groups, the VPD, and more recently highlighted by the Bloomberg report. There is no place for racism, hate, and violence in Vancouver.
We understand that current systems were built and grew from historic foundations of anti-Indigenous, anti-Black, and anti-Asian discrimination. We know that stereotypes, bias, and prejudice lead to violent incidents that affect our whole community. We must name and address these incidents and their impact to reduce further violence and harm. We commit to improving our own response to hate and racist incidents involving City staff, services, and programs.
As part of this work, we are hosting focused conversations with community leaders and City Advisory Committees to build on what the community has already told us:
- Racist incidents are interpersonal, systemic, and institutional in nature
- Victims and targets of racist incidents are further targeted or isolated when they come forward
- There are limited resources to support those who are targeted directly and impacted indirectly
- There is limited understanding about what to do when someone experiences or witnesses a racist incident
- There are limited redress mechanisms for those who are victimized and targeted by racism
- There is limited understanding about who to follow up with when a racist incident occurs
- There is limited accountability for perpetrators and victimizers
These discussions will clarify priorities for the City in moving forward with action and we invite partners to engage with us in addressing racism in our city.
We continue to seek opportunities to work with the community to enact appropriate responses.
This work is informed by Mayor and Council Motion: Report Back - Standing Up to the Rise in Anti-Asian Racism, All Racism & Hate Crimes PDF file (49 KB) and continues to take shape via engagement with community leaders, community partners, City advisories, and internal teams including the Emergency Operation Centre, and 3-1-1.
We have also provided funding for the Chinatown BIA for additional security to combat the rise in anti-Asian racism in Chinatown, and we're in frequent contact with community groups in the neighbourhood to offer additional support.
Read our statements against anti-Asian hate:
Council directed Indigenous Relations to develop a scope of work for a colonial audit, while continuing to work cross-departmentally to implement the City of Reconciliation Framework
MMIWG and Red Women Rising reports
Our work is informed by the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action External website, opens in new tab, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Calls for Justice External website, opens in new tab, and the Red Women Rising report External website, opens in new tab. All of our anti-racism and cultural redress work aligns with:
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action 57: to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism
- Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – Calls to Justice 2.6: We call upon all governments to educate their citizens about, and to confront and eliminate, racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. To accomplish this, the federal government, in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and provincial and territorial governments, must develop and implement an Anti-Racism and Anti-Sexism National Action Plan to end racist and sexualized stereotypes of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. The plan must target the general public as well as public services.
- Red Women Rising Recommendations to End Violence Against Indigenous Women in the DTES: Prioritizes a public education campaign in schools, transit system, media outlets, and community centresd on Indigenous rights and systemic racism.
We are developing our response to the calls for justice coming from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the Red Women Rising reports.
While this project was temporarily put on hold due to the COVID-19 response it has restarted and is now currently underway.
Read Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls External website, opens in new tab and familiarize yourself with the Calls to Justice for all Canadians as a part of your learning about Reconciliation.
Women Deliver Project
Staff are partnering with Indigenous community experts to conceptualize, design, and create a multi-use building that prioritizes Indigenous women for housing, and includes childcare and other supports.
The project team is undertaking a unique decolonizing process to help guide staff in their leadership and decision making.
Urban Indigenous response to COVID-19
Staff are working to support Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council (MVAEC) in identifying and implementing the Urban Indigenous Pandemic Communications and Collaboration Hub, a collaboration between MVAEC, Vancouver Coastal Health, the City, and the First Nations Health Authority.
Our citywide approach also responds to the directions and recommendations of the Urban Indigenous Peoples Advisory Committee.
Urban Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Committee (UIPAC) actions
We welcomed the feedback of the Urban Indigenous Advisory Committee’s open letter in July 2020 on ways to improve the City’s relationship with Indigenous communities in Vancouver.
We are working closely with UIPAC to identify gaps and opportunities and to develop community trust in our institution.
Indigenous healing and wellness
City Council approved an additional grant to Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council for 2020 to accelerate their work on an Indigenous-led healing and wellness strategy. City staff are currently in discussions with MVAEC leadership about allocations of the funds which will help the City target support and investments to priorities set by the community.
Council also approved a capital grant of over $700,000 for an Indigenous healing and wellness space in the Downtown Eastside as part of the 2018 - 2022 Capital Plan.
More recently, an adjustment to the Capital Plan increased this amount in total to over $3 million, and potential locations have been identified.
Historic discrimination and redress efforts
In response to the leadership of Vancouverites, City Council and staff will be advocating to the Ministry of Education and discussing with the Vancouver School Board the need for the history of people of African descent in Vancouver, BC and Canada to be included as core curriculum as opposed to optional Black History Month content.
Curriculum changes are determined by the school board and ministry, but we will continue to push for these changes.
Komagata Maru apology
On May 18, 2021, City Council formally apologized for the Komagata Maru incident, wherein in Vancouver City Council discriminated against 376 passengers travelling from British India on board the Komagata Maru ship in 1914 forcing passengers to remain on board for two months, without sufficient access to medical aid, food and water, because the passengers were of South Asian descent.
The apology for the City’s role in the Komagata Maru incident is part of a larger South Asian apology and redress work to come, which arises from a 2019 Council decision to address historical discrimination against people of South Asian descent in Vancouver.
Hired a South Asian Communities Anti-Racism and Cultural Redress social planner
In August, we hired a South Asian Redress Planner who will work with community partners and City departments to advance the necessary redress work with South Asian communities.
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਮਾਰਕੀਟ (Punjabi Market)
Staff are liaising with the community on the revitalization of ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਮਾਰਕੀਟ (Punjabi Market), recognizing the impact of historical discrimination on this key cultural and economic district.
Recent revitalization work we've supported includes:
Marigolds in the Market installation
- Marigolds in the Market was a public art piece that was installed by the Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective External link icon (PMRC) in spring of this year to celebrate the vibrant history of the diverse neighborhood and community of the ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਮਾਰਕੀਟ. Watch this video External link icon to learn more about the installation and the significance of marigolds in South Asian culture.
Murals in the Market
- In partnership with Vancouver Mural Festival and the PMRC, local BIPOC artists created a series of murals in the ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਮਾਰਕੀਟ to help facilitate storytelling through public art. Visit PMCRs website External link icon to learn about the mural curators and see where they are located.
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਮਾਰਕੀਟ self guided walking tour
- Indian Summer Festival External link icon partnered with PMRC to create a Self Guided Walking Tour. Grab your headphones and your walking shoes and tour the Punjabi Market this weekend External link icon.
- City workers have installed new benches, park furniture, and garbage cans to increase the neighbourhood's comfort and cleanliness.
Apology for historical discrimination against residents of Chinese descent
In April 2018, Vancouver City Council arranged a special meeting in Chinatown where former Mayor Gregor Robertson delivered a formal apology on behalf of the City of Vancouver for past discrimination against residents of Chinese descent.
The apology acknowledged the wrongdoings of past legislation, regulations, and policies of previous Vancouver City Councils. Actions recommended by the community are being implemented through the Chinatown Transformation initiative.
Apology to Japanese Canadians
Staff are engaged with local Japanese Canadians on their community-led collaborations and initiatives to recognize the history and heritage of Japanese Canadians, Indigenous peoples and many others in the Paueru Gai/historic Powell Street area.
In 2013, Council issued a formal apology to the Japanese-Canadian community for discrimination and dispossession during World War II.
Additionally, in 2014 the Downtown Eastside Plan was approved by Council with policies to support Japanese-Canadians through public realm improvements, public art, events and programming, and strategic development and heritage rehabilitation opportunities.
Historical discrimination against people of South Asian descent
Our 2020 budget included funding to support work with the South Asian community on a potential apology to the South Asian community for historic discrimination.
This project was put on hold due to COVID-19 response and will be prioritized once staff are in place.
Anti-Black racism redress
We thank members of the Black and African diaspora communities for their time and labour providing recommendations and analysis to the City to shape this work and move it forward.
We are pleased to share just some of the documents and recommendations that are informing our work:
- UN Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024 External link icon
- Report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent on its mission to Canada External link icon
- Anti Black Racism Community Recommendations PDF file (299 KB)
- Towards a Healthy City PDF file (2 MB)
- Metro Vancouver Social Equity Regional Growth Study External link icon
- Racial Equity Tools (must be opened in Chrome or Firefox) External link icon
- Toronto - Confronting Anti-Black Racism External link icon
- Anti-Black Racism in Canada External link icon
- Challenging Racist BC: 150 Years and Counting External link icon
- BC Black History Awareness Society External link icon
An inter-departmental team continues to work with Hogan’s Alley Society on the establishment of a memorandum of understanding that will include actions intended to support the redress of the displacement of the Black community from North East False Creek and the contributions of the Black community to the vitality of Vancouver.
Hired Senior Social Planner – Anti-Racism and Cultural Redress
In November 2020, we hired an Anti-Racism/Cultural Redress Social Planner to lead our Anti-Racism and Cultural Redress work alongside and on behalf of Vancouver residents.
The social planner will initiate and oversee our anti-racism policy work and seek opportunities to work in partnership with senior government on shared anti-racism initiatives.
The social planner will provide specific updates on actions we are taking to address anti-racism and cultural redress, and how the actions relate to community recommendations, starting February 2021.
Hired a Black and African Diaspora Communities Anti-Racism and Cultural Redress Planner
In May 2021, we hired a Planner to lead the City's Black and African Diaspora Communities Anti-Racism and Cultural Redress work. The Planner will work with the Senior Social Planner – Anti-Racism and Cultural Redress to honour and advance recommendations provided by Black Canadians and people of African descent through resourced actions and initiatives.
City staff are committed to working with Black and African diaspora community members and organizations to evaluate and respond to the calls to justice and recommendations outlined by the community that are within the mandate of City Administration.
Implementing a number of internal equity initiatives to support Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour City staff
In September 2020, we hired a Chief Equity Officer to lead our Equity and Diversity Office who reports directly to the City Manager’s Office. The Chief Equity Officer has developed a number of internal equity initiatives to support Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour City staff. Initiatives include:
- The formation and support for affinity groups
- Opening safe reporting channels for incidents of racism
- Culturally appropriate mental health supports
- Explicit naming of equity competencies in the City’s leadership competencies
- Quarterly town hall events for all staff on these issues
Our Employee Benchmark Survey will provide the first organization-wide review of employee experiences that can be disaggregated based on race and other identifiers so that we may track and understand our impacts on specific staff groups.
We began offering Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) including one for Black staff, one for Indigenous staff, one for all BIPOC staff, and one for IBPOC women in planning. The ERGs are led by employees and supported by the City’s Equity Office. ERG leads also have a seat on the soon to be formed Equity Council that is the oversight and coordination body for the City's internal equity work.
Working with UBC School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) students
We’ve completed a project with UBC SCARP students to review a range of engagements, including the Anti-Black Racism Town Hall, and identify assets and resources to meet Black community member’s visions for future.
The students reviewed existing community recommendations.
We are reviewing and assessing our granting processes and practices with an equity perspective to create long-term and meaningful change to our granting systems. We have provided $110,000 in grants to support Black and African Diaspora community initiatives.
Healthy City scholar program
We hired a Healthy City scholar to review existing policies, look at best practices, and develop recommendations of strategies we can adopt to address anti-Black racism in Vancouver.
Staff are reviewing these recommendations and determining the appropriate potential actions.
Black History Month
For Black History Month 2021, we engaged BlackArt Gastown to create and curate a photo map called Give Them Their Flowers that celebrates ten Black residents who are making impactful contributions to life in Vancouver.
We proclaimed August 1, 2021 as Emancipation Day, and issued a release to educate the public on the history of Emancipation Day, and called on all residents to take action to address anti-Black racism. To support this work we provided a list of anti-Black racism resources.
Anti-Black racism town hall
We thank all the community members who participated in the anti-Black racism town hall on September 24. If you missed it, you can watch the recording on YouTube External website, opens in new tab
Anti-racism strategy and actions
Staff are expediting the City’s anti-racism strategy with input from residents and partners across Vancouver including Indigenous, Black, and other racialized peoples to ensure Vancouver is an equitable and just place for all.
We're advocating to the Province to create a formal representative to improve mental health supports for residents impacted by racism and hate.
This advocacy work includes recommendations for services to assist people seeking redress for experiences of racism and violence.
Public campaign: Day of Action Against Racism
We proclaimed May 29, 2020 as a Day of Action Against Racism PDF file (6 MB), a day to reflect on how we can collectively take a stand against racism and hate, while also recognizing that racism has long been part of Vancouver’s history and to learn from mistakes of the past.
Although not all hateful messages result in actual hate crimes, hate crimes rarely occur without prior stigmatization and attempts to dehumanize targeted groups. We all have a role to play in addressing racism. The first step is acknowledging that racism exists. Denying that racism exists supports groups who benefit from continuing racism. It is important to note that people from all backgrounds can carry racial bias’ towards another race.
The systems and dimensions of racism:
- Institutional racism: policies and laws that reinforce racism in social and political institutions like education, justice, and economies.
- Structural racism: multiple institutions collectively upholding racism, for example the ability to access to bank loans can impact educational outcomes.
- Interpersonal racism: acts if racism and discrimination carried out by individuals against individuals who are Indigenous, Black, or members of other racialized groups.
- Internalized racism: overt and subtle conditioning that reinforces the incorrect idea that whiteness is superior and can result in self blame and self hatred for Indigenous, Black, and other racialized people.
Racism is within the systems that we all live in. And, we all carry racial biases. Some of us are privileged and some of us are harmed, some of us are both. We are all conditioned to be racist from the education system, media, and society.
At times even when we are not trying to cause harm our conditioning and biases, including racial stereotypes, creep up and affect our actions.
It is all of our responsibilities to unlearn our own racial biases as well as disrupt systems of racism when they happen.
Being an ally accomplice and working to dismantle racism is an on-going practice. Imagine what our city would look like if we’re all working on dismantling our own racial biases and educating those around us. We can work together to make this a stronger and safer city for all of us
Racial and Ethno-Cultural Equity Advisory Committee actions
The Racial and Ethno-Cultural Equity Advisory Committee identified ‘Combatting Racism’ as a key focus area in their recommendations to City Council.
Access Without Fear policy
We're preparing to implement the Access Without Fear policy internally with all-staff and externally with partners like you. This policy has the objective of supporting access to City services by Vancouver residents with uncertain or no immigration status. The policy enables these residents to use municipal services without fear that the City of Vancouver will ask about their immigration status, or report their immigration status to other institutions unless required by law.
There will be opportunities to engage City partners in the roll-out of this important work. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in being involved in this work.
Internal structure changes
Chief equity officer
Just before the COVID-19 impacts, the City manager created the position of chief equity officer in the City Manager’s Office.
The City hired Aftab Erfan, who will lead the development of an organizational plan and our approach to institutional and cultural change, and work with departments to implement the equity framework internally and integrate and strengthen an equity and justice lens in our service delivery to the public.
Internal equity initiatives
We're implementing a number of initiatives to support Indigenous, Black, and other racialized City staff, including:
- A town hall with City staff, planned for late September
- Providing improved reporting and reviewing staff supports and other internal programs to support Indigenous, Black, and racialized staff
Staff will review statues and the names of City assets, including streets, and the policies governing commissions and donations of monuments and memorials.
We will also address the painful impacts statues and streets dedicated to figures of colonial history have on Indigenous, Black, and racialized communities.
We will review the Gassy Jack statue in Gastown with direction from the Squamish Nation, in addition to other assets across the city.
Anti-Black racism and white privilege awareness training
We piloted awareness training in 2019 with staff to name and address the realities and consequences of individual and institutional racism.
We are exploring how to embed this training content into our standard training curriculum and how to ensure this work remains a core responsibility across City departments while modelling this work within the City. We are exploring the necessary links between training and onboarding, work-plans, applied learning, policy, and need to support the shift in organizational culture and behaviour.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team in the EOC
An Equity and Inclusion team has been embedded with the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to support community resilience, help lower barriers to accessing timely, critical information, and work to ensure historically underrepresented groups disproportionately impacted by the pandemic are part of the COVID-19 emergency response.
During the summer, we hosted virtual town halls in Tagalog, Punjabi, Vietnamese, and Chinese with former Fire Chief Darrell Reid to communicate with residents concerning COVID-19 and next steps in the recovery process.
Dialogue and accountability
We are in the early stages of forming a Public Partners and Communities Working Group on Anti-racism to act on priorities already raised by communities, including:
- Ethically-informed approach to collecting, sharing, using anonymized race-based data
- Impact-focused racist incident reporting and complaint redress processes
- Adequate and appropriate support and follow-up beyond information and referral
- Build shared understanding of racism as systemic, structural, institutional, interpersonal, cultural, and internalized
Staff are in the final stages of developing the Equity Framework which is aimed at transforming the City’s internal structures in order to have equitable outcomes for Vancouver’s diverse communities. This work is grounded on the priority actions identified in the Healthy City Strategy and is meant to align and support the work of the City of Reconciliation Framework. An update on the status of the Equity Framework development was shared with Council in February 2021, and the final report is expected to be presented to Council in the summer of 2021. We will share the Framework materials when they become available.
We conducted a workforce survey which closed in May 2021 as part of our commitment to build, nurture, and sustain a diverse and inclusive environment.
The survey will provide us with disaggregated data on our workforce, as well as an indication of staff engagement and sense of inclusion. The results will help shape HR’s equity and inclusion policies.
Once the survey results are finalized we will share the results with the public on this page.