In collaboration with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21, University of the Fraser Valley is holding two online anti-racism events this week.
The first event, Keep on Steppin’, takes place Wednesday, March 17 at 2 p.m. and is hosted by the Race and Antiracism Network (RAN). It will focus on the urgency of anti-racism work in the UFV community and the importance of staying engaged.
The panel consists of three people of colour from the Fraser Valley: Mauvey, an award-winning R&B artist based in Chilliwack; Jasmin Kaur, a UFV alumna and internationally recognized rising poet and writer; and Peggy Janicki, an Indigenous teacher and community leader.
The second event, Revealing Systemic Racism and Inequities, takes place on Thursday, March 18 at 1 p.m. and will take a more data-driven approach to racial equality.
It is hosted by University of the Fraser Valley’s Community Health and Social Innovation Hub (CHASI), the South Asian Studies Institute (SASI), and RAN.
The event will explore a recent report from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner (BCOHRC) that researched systemic inequalities in B.C.
The panel will consist of three representatives from BCOHRC who each had a hand in developing the report: Kasari Govender, B.C.’s first independent human rights commissioner; Gwen Phillips, First Nations data governance initiative champion; and Trish Garner, BCOHRC’s executive director of research and policy.
RAN co-chair Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra said after a historic year for social justice reform globally, she still sees a contradiction locally.
On the one hand, the rise of RAN membership and interest, as well as the hiring of UFV’s first director of equity, diversity, and inclusion, have signaled progress. On the other, she believes race relations still have room for improvement.
“I think there’s a shift in the university taking place and people understand that we have to listen to the experts in equality if we are going to move forward,” said Sandhra, who is also the coordinator at the South Asian Studies Institute at UFV and sessional history instructor.
Sandhra expressed concern for students who feel that they have experienced racism at UFV and wants to help build a culture where that doesn’t happen.
“This is actually about activism and the power you all hold within you to enact change through the arts and education,” she said. “We’re in this moment of, ‘Let’s be bold, let’s be fearless; we’re not going to conform to any sort of boxed idea of what you think anti-racism work is; what academia is.’ It’s an opportunity for mentorship.”
Registration for both events can be done online at events.ufv.ca.