BC NDP, Green Party officials condemn racism against Cowichan Tribes
VICTORIA -- The B.C. government continues to condemn racism directed toward a Vancouver Island First Nation that is grappling with a cluster of COVID-19 cases.
B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin issued a joint statement with BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau and parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives Rachna Singh on Monday, urging British Columbians to stand up to racism directed towards Indigenous peoples amid the pandemic.
"We stand together with Indigenous peoples across the province to denounce and condemn in the strongest possible terms the racist behaviour and discrimination directed at Indigenous peoples," said the trio.
"We are deeply concerned about the recent reports coming from members of Cowichan Tribes and the mounting reports regarding anti-Indigenous racism from many other Indigenous communities throughout the province."
The Vancouver Island First Nation first began seeing cases of COVID-19 on Jan. 1. Shortly after, racist rhetoric was appearing online and residents of Cowichan Tribes began reporting instances of racism.
North Cowichan Mayor Al Seibring was quick to speak out against the race-based incidents – a message that was later repeated by B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller.
"Racism toward Indigenous peoples has no place in our society and it must stop," said Rankin, Singh and Furstenau Monday. "We need to stand up to this kind of reprehensible behaviour."
"As we all grapple with this pandemic, now is the time to come together, to support one another and to be kind to each other so we can all get through these difficult times safely and soundly," they said. "We applaud the work the Cowichan Tribes and members of the Resilience BC Anti-Racism Network are doing together to galvanize the community."
The trio also noted that a recent independent investigation into anti-Indigenous racism in B.C.’s health-care system found that systemic racism was "widespread."
The investigation and recent examples of racism towards Cowichan Tribes "highlight the need for each of us to take an active role in stopping anti-Indigenous racism and racism in all its forms, everywhere," said the ministers and party leader.