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Anti-Racism Awareness Week

The Government of British Columbia has declared the week of May 27 to June 2, 2024, Anti-Racism Awareness Week.

Anti-Racism Awareness Week focuses on the need for governments, organizations, and individuals in British Columbia to work together to provide and support anti-racism education.

Racism is more than an individual hurling a racist slur or holding racist beliefs. Systemic racism is also deeply entrenched in our societal institutions, in “written and unwritten policies, our laws, public practices, beliefs, and systems which produce, condone, and perpetuate widespread, unfair treatment and oppression of racialized people,” according to the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Anti-Racism Awareness Week provides an opportunity for people to learn how to identify, challenge, prevent, eliminate, and change the values, structures, policies, programs, practices, and behaviours that perpetuate racism and hate.

Whether racism is overt or subtle, it diminishes human dignity. Historic and ongoing racism and racial discrimination create greater poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, inadequate housing, and homelessness for BIPOC peoples, which increases their risk of contracting chronic illness and disease.

Racism experienced outside the home is now considered to be an adverse childhood experience (ACE) that affects a child’s physical health by increasing the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases, as well as a child’s mental health by increasing the risk of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Racism has an insidious effect on young people’s sense of self and lowers their expectations for their lives. Racial discrimination affects the job opportunities, wages, housing, and education available to youth, and a lack of these resources can lead to homelessness.

Homelessness leaves youth vulnerable to trafficking, violence, trauma, hunger, and disease.

Homelessness is experienced by a disproportionate number of youth from communities of colour. Indigenous youth, young people of colour, and newcomers comprise more than two-thirds of all the young people who face homelessness in Canada.

Young people of colour total 19% of the Canadian population but comprise 28% of youth who experience homelessness in Canada.

Indigenous people make up 4% of Canada’s population but they make up 30% of youth who experience homelessness in Canada. As well as needing a safe place to live, these youth may also have become disconnected from their culture and need to reconnect with their ancestors, traditions, stories, songs, nature, and spirits.

At CHV, we are committed to combatting racism by upholding diversity, equity, and inclusion as we serve all youth with relentless support, absolute respect, and unconditional love.

Through CHV’s programs, we help all BIPOC youth overcome the traumatic effects of racism by being their allies and encouraging them to reach their full potential.

CHV is here to support all youth who are experiencing homelessness, and to protect and safeguard all youth in need. The youth who access our services at Covenant House deserve to live in safety and with hope, as do all people of colour who are subjected to racism in their daily lives.

Here are some ways in which CHV safeguards youth at every level of its operations:

  • Frontline/Support Worker Practices: Incorporating Indigenous wellness and self-care practices.
  • Operational Procedures: Crafting client/tenant intake and service assessment procedures with cultural safety in mind.
  • Program Evaluation and Data Collection: Adopting culturally sensitive evaluation tools and practices.
  • Human Resources Policies: Designing inclusive policies from recruitment to professional development.
  • A Board of Directors Strategic Planning Process: Prioritizing initiatives that promote reconciliation and equity.
  • Relationship Building: Fostering genuine relationships with Indigenous communities and allied groups.
  • Advocacy and Policy Change: Driving systemic change through policy reforms and initiatives to address inequities.

Working together, we can confront and dismantle racism, and help the youth we serve build the lives they deserve.