Majority of racialized groups in Greater Victoria feel unsafe, new report says

WatchAccording to new report, many racialized groups feel unsafe in Greater Victoria due to their race and experiences. Kori Sidaway has more.

For some racialized groups, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the daily racism they face.

“It has made it so much worse for so many people across Canada. Even myself, I realized before school ended last year just the uncomfortableness people had around me because I was Asian, people just kind of moving further away,” Isabella Lee, leader of the Stand With Asians Coalition’s Victoria chapter, told CHEK News earlier this month.

According to a new report from the Greater Victoria Local Immigration Partnership, racism is embedded, normalized, and ordinary in Greater Victoria.

“Racism is real. Racism hurts and harms, and real action needs to be taken to counter it,” said Florentien Verhage, an immigration partnership coordinator with the Greater Victoria Local Immigration Partnership.

A recent study found 71 per cent of those who self-identified as Indigenous, Black, Asian, or person of colour, reported personally facing racism in Greater Victoria over the last five years.

And it ranges in form — from harassment in the community, feeling undervalued at work, even missing job opportunities.

Other times, the racism experienced in Greater Victoria, is subtle and unconscious, heard through condescension and stereotypes.

And all those racist microaggressions, are actually making people sick.

Seventy per cent of racialized groups reported feeling isolated, lonely, and unsafe in Victoria because of their race or ethnicity.

“These experiences over time and the result of accumulated stress can actually cause heart conditions,” said Dr. Nancy Clark, an assistant professor at the University of Victoria’s School of Nursing. “It can actually exacerbate underlying medical conditions to make them worse, such as diabetes or chronic pain.”

So what can we do to eliminate racism? The report highlights a big gap, that needs to close.

“In terms of white respondents to the report, to me, there is a disconnect. People do know it’s a problem, but also do not know to recognize it when it happens,” said Verhage.

The report is calling for community bystander training, workplace structural change, and stronger anti-racism laws.

But at the personal level what can ‘we’ do?

“All these things start with empathy, but it also starts with clearly understanding what things you’re to look for. Like the comments that seem positive, like ‘you speak English so well’ and paying attention to who is speaking, and who is spoken over?” said Verhage.

The report suggests being an ally. To not be afraid to name racism, and speak up, to stop it.

Click here to read the full report.

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Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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