• Dean Nelson

BC Pride joint statement

BC Pride call for anti-racism & community supports to be strengthened


Our lives have changed considerably over the last few months as we have come to grapple with how to remain connected in a newly disconnected society. Our community is deeply rooted in communal queer friendly spaces that allow us to come together, find family, and be ourselves. These past few months we have found ourselves isolated – and at times alone – in what would otherwise be a time for in-person celebrations and gatherings.

Our daily lives became further uprooted with the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, whose death became a catalyst for long overdue change and action. George Floyd’s death is one of many that stems from a long standing, deeply rooted and traumatic history of violence and oppression against Black lives in America. His death has forced us to take a long hard look at how we, as a society and as individuals, have contributed to this problem for so long.

Indigenous peoples; including First Nations, Métis, & Inuit peoples; have been especially hard hit by the effects of racism in Canada. From the earliest colonisation of this land, to the events of today, Indigenous peoples in Canada have been the target of violence. This violence was, from the start, designed to separate the land, the waters, and the resources from the people. After the Royal Proclamation of 1763, and especially with the implementation of the Indian Act of 1876, the goal of this violence was the genocide of Indigenous peoples – to violently and completely erase them as cultural and ethnic groups.

From the experiences of Indigenous peoples of BC with such atrocities as the residential school system and the violence that lead to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, we can see the effects of this violence to this day. Inter-generational trauma, systemic poverty, boil-water advisories that have lasted over 25 years – the examples of the violence experienced by Indigenous peoples of Canada are heartbreakingly many.

How we have accepted state sanctioned violence in the form of police brutality and normalized its existence for so long is a national shame.

Now we must ask ourselves some hard questions. We must step outside our comfort zones and make time for self-reflection, exploration and hard conversations with ourselves, friends and family. We need to honour and validate the anger felt now by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & People of Colour) communities and sit in our discomfort.

Over the last few weeks, images of rioting and protesting have erupted across our news feeds. It continues to be a very fluid but growing movement however riots, protests and unrest are nothing new to the queer community. Pride is and always will be a riot. A riot that was started and led by Black trans women that sparked the international LGBTQ2SIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two- Spirit, Intersex, Asexual, and other gender identity & sexual orientation minority) rights movement as we know it today.

The BC Pride condemns the outright vilification and murder of Black lives across America however we would be remised to not acknowledge our own deeply problematic roots and history here in Canada. Racism is alive and well in BC’s LGBTQ2SIA+ Communities and we stand in solidarity with those campaigning to educate, resist and advocate for all BIPOC people across North America. Across Canada we have seen countless examples of police brutality towards our community in the form of raids, sexualized violence, harassment, and undeserved incarceration.

BC Pride acknowledges that it operates on the traditional territories of the Indigenous peoples of what is now known as ‘British Columbia’. These territories, both treatied and unceded, are only the way they are now due to the use of violence to separate Indigenous peoples from sovereignty over the land, waters, and resources. We call upon our members and fellow residents of these lands to follow the call of reconciliation as exemplified in the report of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. LGBTQ2SIA+ communities have a mixed history – at times standing united with communities of colour and at other times leaving them behind. Amongst other actions, the LGBTQ2SIA+ communities of Vancouver stood with Vancouver’s East Indian Taxi Drivers during the 1979 boycott of Yellow Cab. We continue to recognize the work of BIPOC individuals that began our fight. But it is not enough. The current state of affairs in the world, both in and outside our country, continues to demand our attention and call us to action.

We must acknowledge our own imperfections and sit in our own discomfort as we begin to unravel years of systematic racism and hate. We must use our voices and platforms to amplify and uplift the voices of QTBIPOC (Queer and Trans identifying Black, Indigenous, & People of Colour) lives. We must practice and show our allyship in our work, and daily actions. You might feel at a loss of where to begin or what to do but the only wrong action is inaction.

Please consider either donating to the organizations below, ones in your local community, or reaching out and seeing if you can help them with building capacity or by providing a platform to amplify their voices. We also highly recommend the speakers listing below – please consider having one of them in to help you with examining the ways that your organization can eliminate barriers potentially keeping BIPOC communities from being involved in your organization.

Organizations

BC Community Alliance - bccommunityalliance.com

Hogan’s Alley Society - hogansalleysociety.org

Black Lives Matter Vancouver - blacklivesmattervancouver.com Qummunity Connection - qummunityconnections.weebly.com (Wachiay Friendship Centre Comox Valley) Speakers

BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres - bcaafc.com Indian Residential School Survivors Society - irsss.ca Urban Native Youth Association - unya.bc.ca

Signatories

Burnaby Pride, Chilliwack Pride, Fernie Pride Society, Fraser Valley Pride, Langley Pride, Nanaimo Pride, North Shore Pride Alliance, Pender Island Pride, PLEA Community Services (Maple Ridge Pride Picnic in the Park), Surrey Pride Society, Tri-Cities Pride Society, Vancouver Island Pride, Vancouver Pride Society, Victoria Pride Society BC Pride acknowledges that it operates on the traditional territories of the Indigenous peoples of what is now known as ‘British Columbia’. These territories, both treatied and unceded, are only the way they are now due to the use of violence to separate Indigenous peoples from sovereignty over the land, waters, and resources. We call upon our members and fellow residents of these lands to follow the call of reconciliation as exemplified in the report of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.