The B.C. government says following a rise in racist incidents targeting Asian people during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has selected a provincial hub to help communities address “hate activity.”
The province has selected the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS) to take on systemic and institutionalized racism throughout the province.
“It is very concerning that we are seeing an increase in racially motivated attacks toward people of Asian heritage since the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Citizens’ Services and responsible for Multiculturalism.
“These incidents are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We are acting now to address racism at the community level and ensure all British Columbians are free from discrimination and intimidation.
In recent incidents, a young woman was punched in the face while waiting for a bus in what Vancouver police called an “unprovoked attack” and a 92-year-old man was assaulted outside a convenience store on March 13.
WATCH: Vancouver police investigate two more crimes with possible racial motivation
Vancouver police previously noted a large increase in reports of anti-Asian hate-motivated incidents. Eleven of the 15 hate crimes reported in April had an anti-Asian element.
Twenty anti-Asian hate crimes have been reported to Vancouver police so far this year, compared to 12 in all of 2019.
In November, 2019, the B.C. government launched Resilience BC, a multi-faceted, province-wide approach in challenging racism at a local level.
“VIRCS is very proud to lead the important work being done in B.C. communities to stop the spread of racism and end the recent spikes in hate crimes,” David Lau, VIRCS executive director said in a media release.
“We look forward to collaborating with community leaders across the province to create innovative local resources to advance multiculturalism, support reconciliation with Indigenous communities and fight prejudice to provide a fully inclusive province for all British Columbians.”
The goal of the program will be to connect communities with a network of information, supports and training to help them respond to incidents of racism and hate.