Anti-Racism Legislation Community-Led Engagement Report

Executive Summary

People having a discussion at the office


In 2022, the Government of British Columbia (B.C.) took a significant step against systemic racism by introducing the Anti-Racism Data Act (ARDA). This enabled the provincial government to collect disaggregated race-based data to break down barriers for racialized people to access government programs and services. Building on this, the Province is now advancing broader anti-racism legislation to act on the findings by ARDA and other sources to address and dismantle systemic racism.  

To ensure this legislation is effective and inclusive, the Province conducted extensive consultation and engagement processes in 2023. This included a public online questionnaire, targeted consultation and co-development with Indigenous partners and discussions with racialized communities led by community organizations across B.C. This co-creative approach reflected an intentional effort to develop legislation that recognizes and actively integrates a diversity of perspectives and experiences to address systemic racism. 

Engaging community organizations in B.C. acknowledged their pivotal role in addressing systemic racism and fostering multiculturalism and anti-racism. These organizations have grassroots connections and a deep understanding of local contexts which render them indispensable in creating culturally sensitive interventions and advocating for policy change. They provide key platforms for cultural healing, support group-based healing approaches and facilitate awareness and inclusion initiatives. Additionally, they are critical to ensuring government accountability, promoting community engagement and advocating for a balanced implementation of multiculturalism and anti-racism in government policies and initiatives. Their efforts not only contributed to the immediate goal of shaping effective anti-racism legislation but also to the broader objective of building a more inclusive and equitable society in B.C. 

Universal Themes 

The community-led engagements revealed three universal themes. These themes expressed areas of focus interwoven across various sectors, including K-12 education, health care, law enforcement and employment.

Central to the fight against systemic racism was the need for comprehensive educational frameworks, starting from the K-12 system. Participants stressed the importance of educating young people about Canada’s history of racism and the need for public awareness campaigns to foster empathy and understanding. These initiatives were seen as foundational in bridging gaps between communities and enhancing the efficacy of multicultural and anti­racist practices. Furthermore, there was a call for mandatory anti-racism training and cultural competency workshops for professionals in public services, including teachers, health care workers and law enforcement officials.

The discussions also highlighted the necessity of accountability mechanisms to address racial biases and discrimination across various sectors, including education and in the workplace. The establishment of clear accountability practices was seen as essential for acknowledging the harm caused by racism and preventing future occurrences. This included the need for transparent reporting, independent evaluation and consequences for violations of anti-racism policies.

The consultation process revealed that while multiculturalism and anti-racism are distinct concepts, they are interconnected and can be mutually reinforcing. Multiculturalism was celebrated for its focus on diversity and cultural exchange but also risked being seen as symbolic without the critical lens of anti-racism. Conversely, anti-racism was characterized by its proactive and systemic approach to addressing barriers but was also acknowledged to be often interpreted as provocative and confrontational. Participants viewed the integration of these approaches as crucial in building an inclusive and equitable society, recognizing it as a continuous effort and collective responsibility.

These themes underscored the complexity of addressing systemic racism and the need for a multifaceted approach. Education reform, particularly within the K-12 system, was seen as a cornerstone for long-term change. Health care, law enforcement and employment sectors were also identified as areas requiring significant reform to ensure equitable services and to address the systemic nature of racism. The engagement process thus set the stage for a comprehensive strategy that intertwines educational reform, accountability mechanisms and the integration of multiculturalism and anti-racism to effectively combat systemic racism.

Unique Themes 

During the engagement process, it became evident that understanding the specific concerns of diverse communities was crucial to comprehending the multifaceted nature of racism. The unique themes highlighted below exemplify the fact that different marginalized communities do not experience racism in the same way and emphasize the need for tailored and nuanced responses.

Communities of the African diaspora and Black Canadians emphasized the need for targeted anti-racism initiatives that recognize the distinct nature of anti-Black racism and its intersection with other forms of racial discrimination. Key areas of focus included culturally sensitive healing services, reparations and integrating Black history and culture into public life. The community called for direct government engagement and representation in decision-making, underscoring the importance of government accountability, especially in law enforcement interactions.

The Asian diaspora highlighted language barriers and the rise in anti-Asian violence as major concerns. They expressed a need for support services in multiple languages and initiatives to counteract discrimination and dispel stereotypes. Psychological support tailored to the experiences of racialized immigrants and addressing the fear and self-censorship among new immigrants were also identified as crucial issues.

For South and West Asian communities, language barriers, recognition of foreign credentials and intergenerational support emerged as significant themes. The challenges of model minority stereotypes and internal biases within racialized communities were discussed, emphasizing the need for broader education to foster inter-community understanding and mutual respect.

Indigenous communities focused on empowering Indigenous Nations to lead their own systems and ensuring accountability with tangible consequences for racism in sectors like health care and criminal justice. The importance of culturally sensitive health care and traditional healing practices, as well as reforms in the criminal justice system, also emerged as key elements.

School-aged youth in British Columbia strongly advocated for a K-12 curriculum that directly addresses racism and discrimination; they also called for specialized training in cultural sensitivity and anti-racism for educators. The importance of inclusive and diverse representation within the school system was highlighted, alongside the need for cultural exchange programs and equitable policies for immigrant children.

University-aged students, particularly international students, expressed concerns about racial biases in academic settings, including linguistic discrimination and the fear of retaliation for reporting racist incidents. They underscored the need for broader systemic support, including equitable tuition policies and improved mechanisms for addressing racism.

In rural areas, transportation, infrastructure challenges, the role of local businesses and the presence of more overt racism were key issues. Improvements in public transportation, access to essential services and education on the history of colonization were identified as necessary steps to equity and inclusion.

Faith-based communities faced multi-layered barriers due to the intersection of race, ethnicity and religion. They emphasized the need for inclusive religious policies, positive media representation and navigating societal norms. Discrimination against visible religious attire and the lack of positive representation of various religious practices also emerged as significant concerns.

These diverse experiences highlight that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing racism. Each community’s distinct encounters with racism call for specific, informed actions that recognize and address the varied forms of racial discrimination. This nuanced understanding is essential to developing effective anti-racism strategies and policies that are truly inclusive and responsive to the needs of Indigenous and other racialized communities in British Columbia.


The community-led engagement process in British Columbia underscored the indispensable role of community organizations in shaping impactful anti-racism legislation. Their deep-rooted connections and comprehensive understanding of the unique and universal experiences of racism within various communities provided vital insights. By integrating these diverse perspectives, the process acknowledged the multi-faceted nature of systemic racism. It also ensured that the legislation could be tailored to address both the common and distinct challenges faced by different groups. This collaborative and inclusive approach set a precedent for creating responsive legislation that is representative of the needs of diverse communities to foster an equitable and inclusive province.