Fighting racism in the Okanagan
North Okanagan residents can take a stand against racism.
An initiative has been launched by the Respect Network in which residents in the Thompson-Okanagan can take an anti-racism challenge by March 21. The challenge is available at www.respectnetwork.ca
“Individuals can go on to the website and commit to the value statements on there,” said Annette Sharkey, with the North Okanagan Social Planning Council.
“That results in a vote being attributed to the community. We want to see which community has the most participants.”
The Social Planning Council is the lead agency in the Respect Network, a consortium of organizations throughout the region.
The member agencies include the Vernon and District Immigrant Services Society, the North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society, Kelowna Community Resources, the Kelowna Immigrant Society, South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services, Kamloops Immigrant Services and the Shuswap Settlement Services Society.
Sharkey admits that intolerance exists in the region.
“A lot of people may not see the overt racism but there is a lot of subtle racism,’ she said.
Among the ways racism and hate are exhibited are bullying, name calling, slurs, distribution of materials encouraging prejudice, violence or threats of violence, vandalism, threatening phone calls, physical assaults and hate mail and e-mails
Sharkey is confident residents in the Thompson-Okanagan will embrace the Respect Network’s message.
“It all comes down to respecting our differences and looking at the positive ways that diversity enriches our communities,” she said.
“It may be a case of not tolerating racial jokes.”
The website includes information about racism and hate and what individuals can do in their community.
Among the topics covered on the website are human rights, multiculturalism and citizenship, sexual orientation and gender and youth and schools.
For more information about the Respect Network, e-mail email@example.com.
-Vernon Morning Star