Anti-Racism and Anti-Hate Project Report

2 Project Background

The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training (AEST) has set out priorities for the post-secondary landscape in British Columbia (BC), which include putting people first, lasting and meaningful reconciliation, and equity and anti-racism.

In support of these priorities, BCcampus initiated a project focused on anti-racism (AR) and anti-hate (AH) from late January until March 2022. This project involved a multi-pronged approach to understanding the availability of resources dedicated to addressing AR and AH through an environmental scan. Additionally, the project brought collective voices, expertise, and lived and living experience through a collaborative working group. This project both informed and added to what is currently being created within the post-secondary education sector as part of BCcampus’ mandate of offering open and online educational resources. The final project deliverable includes a webinar titled, The Empty Chair: Bridging the Gap Between Equitable Intentions and Equitable Actions in British Columbia’s Post-Secondary System, aimed at inspiring and building mental bridges between participants in an effort to work towards an inclusive, accessible, and decolonized future for higher education in BC. Appendix 1 provides a visual of how the various components described above connect with each other.

The purpose of this report is to summarize the findings of the environmental scan as well as highlight insights and recommendations that can pave the way for AR and AH work to permeate systemically, meaningfully, and persistently across higher education in BC.

BC Context

Globally, the pandemic has exposed and further exacerbated inequities and injustices that were already present in the province. Incidents in the BC context include:

  • An Indigenous grandfather and his 12-year-old granddaughter handcuffed without cause at a bank in downtown Vancouver (Sterritt, 2020),
  • The racial profiling of a Black student at the University of British Columbia (Alden & Ha, 2020), and
  • Troubling statistics such as a 717% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes (Zussman, 2021) or that 1 in 4 British Columbians have experienced or witnessed hate incidents since the start of the pandemic (BC Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, 2022).

The above examples showcase that BC is not free of racism or hate; firm measures to advance AR and AH are required across all sectors and industries.

Post-secondary institutions have a role to play in addressing racism and hate and amplifying AR and AH responses. Higher educational institutions continue to perpetuate institutional and structural racism (Henry et al., 2017; McMahon, 2007; Yee & Wagner, 2013). Post-secondary institutions create opportunities where academic freedom leads to innovation, intellectual dialogue, and critique that “pursue the truth and advance the knowledge for the good of society” (Dea, 2019) at the same time when the presence of hate speech is increasing (BC Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, 2022). Commitments to balancing teaching, research, and training, as well as talent acquisition that better reflects demographics and experiences continue to evolve with time; these have become the educational fabric that underlies public, private or career training universities, institutes, and colleges that make-up the BC post-secondary landscape. As a result, the environmental scan is aimed at understanding how such institutions have approached engaging in AR and AH work and learning.