Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford last Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Fraser Valley anti-racism group notes an increase in reported incidents

Human Dignity Coalition says recent rallies have increased awareness

Fraser Valley Human Dignity Coalition (FVHDC), an Abbotsford group addressing issues of racism, says there has been an increase in the reporting of racist incidents in the last two weeks.

Alison Gutrath, the supervisor of Archway Diversity Education, which organizes the FVHDC, said that with issues of racism currently being brought to the forefront, the group is seeing higher-than-normal interest from the general public.

“Not everyone realizes that racism happens daily in our community,” she said.

“The Black Lives Matter movement that has been at the centre of rallies in the United States and Canada has led to more Canadians being aware that racism is a problem in Canada as well. In order to actively respond to racism, we need to identify it and then report it.”

Gutrath said people are encouraged to intervene in such incidents “if they feel safe.”

“Sometimes even just approaching the victim and starting a conversation can help them feel they have an ally and distract and stop the perpetrator,” she said.

RELATED: Coalition urges people to report discrimination and racism

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The group holds its quarterly meeting on Thursday, June 18 at 6 p.m. It will be the first time in the group’s 20-year history that it will be held online.

FVHDC is a collective of organizations that include the Abbotsford School District, University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford Interfaith Movement, and Abbotsford Police as well as advocates, community groups and members of the public.

Members are welcome from throughout the Fraser Valley, including Abbotsford, Mission, Aldergrove, Langley and Chilliwack.

The group meets to discuss reported cases of racism and discrimination, hear presentations and discuss community issues, projects and events.

One of the FVHDC initiatives was partnering with The Reach Gallery Museum to host a block party for the International Day for Elimination of Racism.

Black, Indigenous, and people of colour performers highlighted the need to actively and ethically respond to racism. While similar events are not possible right now, the group is looking at hosting online webinars and creating lists of resources.

Meanwhile, anyone who has been the victim of racism or discrimination can report it to the group by calling 604-859-7681 (ext. 270) or visiting Archway.ca/FVHDC.

Staff will then offer support and can help the victim report the incident to the provincial government and share anonymously with the FVHDC group.

Those interested in attending the online meeting on June 18 are asked to email diversity@archway.ca to receive the digital invitation. Guests are required to agree to the Code of Ethics to ensure a confidential and safe forum for community dialogue.

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