A new report from Vancity credit union suggests over 80 per cent of British Columbians, who identify as a visible minority, say they have experienced prejudice or some form of discrimination.
The report found 70 per cent of all respondents, regardless of their cultural origin, have experienced or witnessed some form of discrimination or racism, but this number goes up to 82 per cent for those who identify as a visible minority.
“The results of our poll revealed British Columbians may not be as tolerant as we say we are,” said Catherine Ludgate, Vancity’s manager of community investment.
Of those who identify as a visible minority, 57 per cent said they believe people make assumptions about their group.
Forty-six per cent feel they face social disadvantages because of their ethnic background and 33 per cent say they have felt they have been a target of abuse.
Twenty-nine per cent believe they have faced discrimination based on their name and 10 per cent feel they have faced disadvantages because of their religious affiliation.
Eleven per cent said the experience of discrimination has been traumatic enough to make them consider moving to a new location and six per cent have actually done so.
The visible minority respondents said the discrimination has taken place in a variety of settings such as work, school and in other daily interactions. Many say they have experienced this prejudice repeatedly and many visible minority respondents manage their conversations with others carefully, avoiding subjects that could expose racist attitudes.
At the same time, the survey found the majority of British Columbians favour multiculturalism and think the number of immigrants and refugees should either remain the same or increase.
However, a number of high-profile cases involving discrimination have had local police authorities on alert.
In October, a racism-fueled altercation was caught on tape in Abbotsford, resulting in charges.
The survey was conducted Jan. 9-13, and included 1,207 adult British Columbians (550 respondents identified themselves as either East, South, or Southeast Asian in origin). The margin of error of survey data is +/- 2.8 percentage points.