A slide from the session, showing the social, health and well-being effects of racism, data drawn from Racism in Greater Victoria: a Community Report presented by the GVLIP and ICA.
On Friday July 9 a group of VICCIR staff, counsellors, interpreters and volunteers opened a space for exploring racism and prejudice in Victoria and Greater Victoria area and how this affects our work. This came about as a result of our participation in the Greater Victoria Local Immigration Partnership (GVLIP) Equity Table. On May 7th VICCIR representatives participated in a meeting organized by the GVLIP called "Working Together for Change: Community Dialogue on Racism in Greater Victoria”. At this event, the GVLIP and ICA presented the results of a survey on racism in Victoria. VICCIR counsellor Ana Pavon moderated one of the breakout rooms focussing on the mental health sector. After the meeting it was clear that more dialogue was needed at VICCIR and in other organizations on this topic.
Talking about racism, handling white fragility and giving space for all voices is challenging and can be painful, but it is also healing. Creating such spaces is part of being accountable and working on facilitating systemic change. There were differences in understanding about the topic of racism but everyone came together with a common desire to share and learn through the practice of reflection and self-reflection.
Ana Pavon led the session. These are some of the highlights:
We need to learn about micro-aggressions and identify prejudice and racism when it is happening to prevent downplaying harmful situations.
We need to reflect on what it entails to be accountable as individuals and groups
We want to be an ally and learn practical steps and strategies in order to stand with the person experiencing racism.
What are we doing well? What are areas that need improvement?
How is diversity represented in places where decisions are made, such as professional associations or boards of associations?
Do we know how to respond or what resources are available for our clients if they experience racism or prejudice? What are these resources?
How often we explore with our clients how racism and prejudice affect their lives and perception of wellbeing?
The participants will continue this dialogue and explore these topics more in-depth and invite more people to attend. VICCIR is taking steps toward systemic change, giving voice to the issues and reflecting on areas of improvement at different levels. We want to advocate for our clients, co-workers, family, friends and being an ally against racism and inequality.
The next discussion will take place in the fall.