B.C. government launches survey to better understand the experiences and needs of Black residents

The B.C. government wants to better understand the experiences of Black people living in the province and has launched a new survey to help with that goal. 

The Black in B.C. Survey is part of a larger project called the Black in B.C. Convener Project created in response to issues of anti-Black racism that came to a global boiling point in 2020.

The survey is primarily aimed at Black British Columbians and people of African descent and is being done in partnership with the province and the Issamba Centre — a Black-led, Black-serving organization based in Victoria.

Felix Kongyuy, project manager, said there are about 61,000 Black people estimated to be living in B.C. and the survey aims to get at least 3,000 of their perspectives and concerns on topics including education, housing, community safety, democratic engagement, access to justice and physical and mental health care.

“These are areas where we’ve seen a lot of people of African descent being disenfranchised and just kind of on and on neglected and ignored,” Kongyuy said during an interview on CBC’s The Early Edition.

Kongyuy said once the survey has closed and the data has been correlated, the next stage of the project will be to launch an awareness campaign and for dialogue sessions to be held in communities and with municipal governments around the province.

“We also want to educate people who think this issue is just a Black-related issue,” Kongyuy said about the project’s goals. “It is an issue that as a community, as a society, we need to work together.”

Ultimately, Kongyuy hopes the information gathered will be used to help shape public policy and legislation that reflects the experiences of Black people and addresses systemic racism.

The survey is open until August and is available on the Issamba Centre’s website.

Capital city project

The City of Victoria is also looking for input on how to be more inclusive of all its residents.

A new task force made up of representatives from different organizations was created in the provincial capital earlier this month that will focus on creating a roadmap to guide Victoria toward becoming a more inclusive community.

According to committee co-chair, Victoria Councillor Sharmarke Dubow, the Welcoming City Task Force is focused on removing barriers to city services to help foster a community where everyone is respected, accepted and feels like they belong — especially newcomers, immigrants and refugees.

A crowd packs Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., for a Black Lives Matter rally on June 7, 2020. (CHEK News)

“We say it takes a village to raise a child, so it takes a community and everyone playing that role to foster a welcoming environment for all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity or place of origin,” he said, speaking on CBC’s On The Island.

To help make this happen, the task force is asking people to submit personal stories about their sense of belonging in Victoria and whether they feel like they are welcome and what could help them feel more included.

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