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Participation of visible minorities in Canadian society

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The B.C. Civil Liberties Association has worked since its founding in 1962 to promote racial tolerance and understanding in British Columbia. The hearings of this Special Committee on the Participation of Visible Minorities in Canada give our Association another opportunity to join with many like-minded groups to discuss ways of improving race relations in this country.

I. Government policies and practices

The BCCLA is interested in improving race relations where we think it really matters—in the day-to-day life of visible minority citizens. We think that the federal government has a practical role to play in this process, but we think that its role needs re-examination. We would particularly like to see a change in focus in the federal government’s programs to promote human rights and a different thrust in the rationale for federal funding of public awareness and education programs.

Our emphasis here on community action and education does not mean that we think official pronouncements, laws and statutory agencies are unimportant. They clearly are important, not only because they are public illustrations of government concern and commitment, but also because they have some educational impact over the long term and may influence the behaviour of thoughtful citizens. Enforcement of anti-discrimination laws is a remedy for individuals confronted with unlawful prejudicial behaviour. The more widespread and effective this enforcement, the more aware the community becomes of behaviour that is unacceptable in the human rights area.

By themselves, however, pronouncements, laws and enforcement procedures are insufficient, especially for causing changes or improvements for a wider range of citizens in a relatively short period of time. We all know how difficult it is to change people’s behaviour and, even more so, their values and attitudes. Trying to do so in the more immediate present, rather than waiting for whole new generations to grow up with different values and behaviour patterns, is the most difficult thing of all. But this is less a reason to sit back and wait for possible future improvements than it is a real challenge to do more now to bring about desired changes, and to make what we do more effective.

Applying this to the federal government, we see public education programs, and especially local community involvement in such programs, as the area that needs attention. We think that education programs regarding human rights should be more action-oriented, and that they should result in a significant increase in our practical knowledge of what kinds of programs and activities work in reality to improve the race relations environment.

A. Replace conferences with more practical activities

We have very little confidence, for example, in the effectiveness of large-scale conferences as mechanisms for improving race relations at the local community level. How—except in the mind of an Ottawa bureaucrat—is the life of a minority group resident of South Vancouver improved by a human rights conference in Ottawa, or even Vancouver for that matter, that costs tens of thousands of dollars, that is attended primarily by workers in statutory or funded agencies and organizations, and that consists primarily of preaching in some form to the already converted? To us there seems to be a “conference mentality” among some officials that dictates the same solution to every problem: hold a conference about it. We think that in most instances federal money spent on provincial and federal conferences on human rights can better be spent elsewhere if actual improvements in race relations are the aim.

We agree that there is value in getting people from different groups together to share experiences, to be exposed to new ways of coping with common problems, and to learn from each other and outside experts new practical techniques for combatting racism. But these kinds of working meetings do not require the trappings of high-class hotels, catered banquets and another after dinner speech by the same high-profile minority celebrity. We encourage the federal government to downscale its vision of human rights conferences and to concentrate instead on intensive local, provincial or regional working weekends centred on practical techniques for combatting racism.

Such a weekend should be packed from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon—not with social cocktail parties and plenary sessions to make recommendations generally more rhetorical than practical—but with working sessions led by persons presently involved in local community race relations programs, or outside “experts” with practical knowledge applicable to race relations work. It is particularly important that the leaders of such working sessions have practical knowledge about the issue at hand, and not be chosen because their affiliation with or official leadership of a particular group is seen as qualification enough. Nothing is more discouraging to active workers in the race relations field than being led through a series of cliches about race relations by a person whose only qualification is the number of times his/her name has appeared on petitions or letterheads. How many successful techniques do we know about for handling racial incidents? Who across Canada is applying new methods to community race relations work? This kind of practical information should be made available to assist community groups involved in race relations, and we don’t see it coming across in any large-scale conference format.

B. Tie education and information to community action

Of course, such information can not be made available to local groups if it is not available at all, and we seriously wonder whether it is. We have the impression that few federally-funded human rights programs test specific activities for their effectiveness in combatting racism, or return solid factual information about race relations problems to their sponsors. Too often, it seems, an assumption is made that if you inform the public about human rights issues; if you educate school children, or the general public, about different cultures in their communities; or if you keep repeating the positive benefits of multiculturalism—then somehow you are “doing” something. We do not think that information or education is “doing” enough, and current assessments of public attitudes about human rights would seem to corroborate our concern.

Communities in B.C., for example, have been informed about human rights protections and race relations issues through conferences, information brochures and excellent Human Rights Commission Reports over the past several years. While the information packages have become more attractive during that time and, at least until recently, laws and policies have become more effective and wide-ranging, have any widespread improvements taken place in local communities on a day-to-day basis? How is it that the present B.C. government can assess the mood of its citizens and decide that they will tolerate regressive legislation that threatens to wipe out ten years of advances in provincial human rights work? Something more than information or education is needed to focus citizens on active support for human rights and genuine racial tolerance. We think that the federal government should give priority in regional human rights funding to local community programs that tie education about human rights to specific community action to make such education effective. Funding should go to groups whose activities will make a contribution to our knowledge of both the real problems and the practical effectiveness of proposed solutions in the race relations area.

C. Gather more facts about local racial problems

Our Association has been surprised at how difficult it is to gather factual information about race relations from community groups and agencies who work in that area. When the BCCLA-sponsored Neighbourhood Action Project was recently trying to compile an accurate profile of the kinds and frequency of racial incidents in the Vancouver area, only federal and provincial statutory human rights agencies had kept records of complaints of racial incidents which they were willing to disclose to Project staff. Community groups and other agencies were either unable to separate racial incidents from among their other case files, did not keep records of such incidents, or were too busy compiling their own statistics to give us the information they said they had. It seems to us that such information, is a logical, and in fact necessary, starting point for activities meant to provide redress for such incidents and to reduce their occurrence. If you do not keep track of what is happening, how do you know what problems to address or what solutions to try? It is not enough to say that everyone knows what the problem is, that it is racism and that it must be eradicated. Racism has many forms and guises; different communities will have to deal with different kinds of racist behaviour, and not all kinds will be amenable to the same solutions, if they are amenable to solution at all.

In agreeing to support a Neighbourhood Action Project survey of racial incidents in the South Vancouver area, Dr. Charles Paris, ex-Chairman of the now disbanded B.C. Human Rights Commission, spoke of the need for a broader base of factual information on the problems surrounding racism. He chided local academics, for example, who find it fascinating to study and report on racial and other social problems in far-away countries, but who ignore the situation in Surrey or Quesnel, B.C., where the problems may not seem as exotic, but where factual investigations and studies could have practical impact. Where indeed is our body of knowledge about race relations in Canada? Right here; we are all in the process of producing it. But our Association wants that body of knowledge to be a practical one that will address real problems factually identified in Canadian communities, and that will suggest methods of solution tested for effectiveness in a wide variety of Canadian contexts.

D. Test proposed solutions to racial problems and publicize the results

Race relations issues often and understandably invoke intense emotional responses. Nowhere is this more evident than in people’s high emotional commitment to certain solutions to racial problems and their own personal identification with such solutions. Our Association has observed that such personal commitments sometimes endure despite lack of evidence that the proposed solution will in fact work. To devote long-term time, energy, and financial resources to a solution which is untested, and which may possibly have little practical impact on racial problems, seems to us a waste. We think that individuals and organizations having a common interest in combatting racism should work together to test proposed solutions to racial problems. They should at least get together to discuss openly their reasons for supporting one solution over another and their understanding of the practical implications of the solutions they support. If personal commitment to a particular solution inhibits serious discussion of other related issues, then common action on those other issues is less probable and less effective.

The federal government, through offers of funding, regional staff support, and use of meeting rooms and other local resources, should encourage local community groups (whether funded or not) to work together to test proposed solutions to racial problems. Together these groups should test the various methods suggested by academics and practical experts, to determine if such solutions are effective in their own communities. They should also be encouraged to develop their own strategies, to test them along with other groups, and to make their results known to the wider human rights community. The federal government’s interest in such experimental projects should extend beyond the funding stage. When separate groups receive funding for race relations programs, they should keep in contact with one another so that they can benefit from each other’s experience and not duplicate activities unnecessarily.

The Secretary of State’s regional office in Vancouver held a meeting in the spring of 1982, inviting all race relations projects then funded by the Multiculturalism Directorate to participate, so that we could learn about all project plans and meet some of the project workers. Occasional meetings such as that, whether called by a funding agency or one of the community groups. are of real practical benefit when the participating groups are open with one another about goals, problems, and plans, and are not inhibited or distrustful because of real or imagined competition for funding. Someone should have the responsibility for seeing that such meetings occur regularly, perhaps once a year after most funding decisions are made. If this is unworkable, funding agencies could at least inform funded projects and sponsoring agencies about all projects in the race relations area, noting project plans and contact people. Funding agencies might also consider releasing summaries of project final reports to other groups working in the same problem area, again as a means of spreading the practical knowledge gained through such projects.

All of this assumes, naturally, that groups sponsoring race relations projects and activities are interested in working more closely together, if only to keep abreast of what is happening in their field of interest. It is not clear to us, however, that this assumption is always valid, which leads to some concerns this Association has about our own efforts to work with other groups to help solve problems of racial discrimination.

E. Address problem areas that inhibit productive relationship among groups in race relations

Except in times of great common enthusiasm (such as the period just before the introduction of the 1973 B.C. Human Rights Code) or in times of great crisis (such as right now in relation to the repeal of that same Human Rights Code), human rights groups in B.C. have not worked solidly together on a regular basis to resolve racial problems. Our Association has been discouraged on several occasions when joint efforts or activities in race relations work had to be abandoned because unexplained problems developed between our group and the visible minority groups with which we had started to work. Equally discouraging was our inability in most instances to identify the specific problems that had hindered our joint efforts.

Our experience has led us to wonder whether someone—perhaps this Special Committee on Visible Minorities—should examine and analyse the structure and policies of human rights and race-related groups as they have evolved in Canada. Is it possible that such groups have developed in ways that inhibit genuine co-operation among like-minded individuals from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds? For example, does the fact that each separate group must struggle for funds and members to support itself mean that our differences are emphasized, and that our need to appear unique takes precedence over our common goal? Given the limited financial resources, private and public, that are made available for human rights work, is competition for funding a major barrier to close co-operation and sharing of information?

Funding and self-interest are not the only issues that may have affected co-operation among the various groups organized to combat racism. Another is strategy—do we all agree on the methods to be used against racial bias and discrimination? Our Associations knows that there are some strategies about which we and most visible minority groups disagree—most notably, at present. support of proposed legislative amendments that would increase government control over certain kinds of writing and speech generally identified as “hate literature”. The BCCLA has opposed these amendments. Our position is based on our views of civil liberties principles, but this stand has alienated some leaders of visible minority groups and their colleagues in the majority community.

We respect the position taken by other groups and hope that they come to respect ours. Those legislative amendments are only one solution proposed for one problem area in race relations. Our Association has never viewed race relations in British Columbia as a one-issue problem; nor, to our knowledge, does any other group in B.C. We think that too much work needs to be done in race relations to let disagreement over one or two issues prevent groups from working together wherever they can toward their common goal. Strategies aside for the moment, we are also concerned that some visible minority groups may have doubts about working with groups whose membership is predominantly from the major communities in Canada. The credibility of our own interest and work in race relations has actually been challenged on that ground, even though racial discrimination was the major issue around which our Association was formed in 1962. After all, discriminatory treatment based on race or ethnic background is a civil liberties issue just as much as denial of counsel of curtailment of legitimate political dissent.

On a theoretical basis, at least, a civil liberties organization that is not actively pursuing racial justice is just not living up to its name.

We understand that this distrust arises from the very discrimination which we are committed to eradicate. It would ironic, however, if historical distrust prevented groups from working together to end such discrimination. Most major government and voluntary agencies or groups concerned with human rights and racial justice are made up of members from both minority and majority communities. Individual and organizational support for racial justice and equal opportunity should be expected in a country based on democratic principles; where those expectations are not met, good citizens of every cultural background should be concerned.

Since it is the majority culture’s behaviour and attitudes that usually need changing to improve the race relations environment, majority culture individuals and organizations are needed as catalysts for change in their own communities and as role models for human, non-prejudicial behaviour. Minority and majority community members need to discuss and understand each other’s concerns and the reasons for the kinds of decisions they make about race relations priorities and strategies. If this process brings out animosity and distrust between some visible minority organizations and the majority community, then these problems should be addressed as directly as possible in order to keep them from disrupting effective co-operation.

These questions of funding, individual identity, strategies, and group relationships are four that our Association has identified as possible barriers to closer co-operative efforts among various groups working in the race relations area. We would like to see these barriers overcome; all groups in our society would benefit, and more effective joint action should result.

II. Race relations at the local community level

The Neighbourhood Action Project is a race relations project sponsored by the BCCLA and located in the southeastern section of Vancouver. The purpose of the Project is to explore strategies for assisting victims of racial harassment and to work with other local groups to initiate and support community activities that promote racial understanding and interaction. The work of the Project over the past year and more has brought the staff into contact with a wide cross-section of people in the community .

According to provincial lists of registered voters, the South Vancouver riding has approximately 55,000 voters in all, 6,000 of whom are Chinese-Canadian, and 3,200 of whom are Indo-Canadian. The Project, which has usually had at least two staff members fluent in Hindi or Punjabi, has worked primarily with the Indo-Canadian community and the majority community in the area. The experiences of the staff members, both on Project activities and in their own interaction with community members, have encouraged them to draw some conclusions that are relevant to the terms of reference of this Special Committee. We hope to draw attention in a constructive way to problem areas that need improvement as well as to models that are effective mechanisms for addressing racial issues at a local community level.

A. Some issues regarding participation of visible minorities in the political process

During the Project term, a provincial election gave Project staff members the opportunity as individuals to participate in and observe the political process at work. The participation of visible minorities in the electoral process became a cause for concern in relation to a number of matters. Our suggestions for improvement are aimed at all levels of government and include the following items:

1. Information about Voting and Election Procedures

Greater efforts need to be made to ensure that ethnic communities, especially those with a significant proportion who have limited English language skills, get full information about voter qualifications and registration, voting procedures, locations of polling places, and other such matters. More widespread use of the ethnic media, handouts for community centres and other central meeting places with vital information in appropriate languages, community meetings where specific information about the election process is discussed in appropriate languages other than English—these are three suggestions for improving the understanding and therefore the participation in ethnic minorities in the election process.

2. Assistance on election day

Improvements are needed at polling stations in areas with substantial ethnic populations in order to clarify procedures and instructions for citizens whose English is limited. District Returning Officers should be given training and clear instructions so that they genuinely facilitate the voting process of citizens with limited English. Returning Officers need to be made aware of the problems that will concern such voters, and to be familiar with the ways ethnic minorities do things. Guidelines should be developed to ensure a consistent level of high quality and culturally sensitive interpretation. Perhaps more scrutineers could be members of minority communities—a matter that can be addressed by the various political parties.

3. Encouragement of visible minority candidates

Political parties, who are responsible for seeking out qualified political candidates and persuading them to run for office, have a role to play in encouraging more participation by visible minorities in the political process. We are not recommending the selection of “token” minority candidates, nor the running of a racially-motivated campaign. We do urge political parties of all persuasions to become better acquainted with their supporters within visible minority communities, to persuade those supporters to work actively in political campaigns, and to ensure that the nomination of party candidates takes into account the interests of minority communities and the potential of well-qualified minority Candidates.

4. Policy formation

Every level of government and every political party makes use, in one form or another, of policy-making committees. Such committees vary in name (task force, working committee, Special Committee, Public Inquiry Board, etc., in size, in responsibility, and in impact on actual government policy and decisions. Nevertheless, collectively these committees play an important role in the decision-making process, and therefore in the direction of Canadian policies. It is important that special needs or interests of ethnic minority citizens be represented in this policy-making process. It is also important that visible minority citizens who are highly qualified in and concerned about specific topics related to policy are not unwittingly excluded from the policy-making process merely because they have not yet become part of whatever “old boy” network exists for the selection of committee members. Thus we urge all levels of government and all political parties to take positive steps to ensure that special interests of visible minority groups are taken into account in policy-making and that visible minority citizens are participants in the decision-making process.

B. Local community and neighbourhood activities

The work of the Neighbourhood Action Project is based on the conviction that racism needs to be confronted directly in the communities and neighbourhoods where it occurs. The comments we wish to make here are based on the Project’s experience thus far in handling cases and initiating local community activities related to race relations and human rights. We think we have learned something from both our successes and our mistakes, and we hope our tentative conclusions will give this Special Committee some practical knowledge about local community race relations work. Our general conclusion is that a multi-ethnic community experiencing any degree of racial tension needs a community-based resource team (for want of a better word) to help resolve individual cases of racial harassment and to initiate and help maintain activities that promote cross-cultural interaction in the community.

1. A community liaison and advocacy team model

From our experience, we have tentatively identified three criteria that should be met in a local community in order for that community to deal effectively with racial tensions:

a) the community as a whole must demonstrate its concerns about what happens to its visible minority residents, must encourage them to report discriminatory behaviour, and must actively support methods to redress their grievances;
b) the community must have a well-publicized and clearly designated place for reporting racial incidents and handling them promptly and thoroughly: and
c) within the local community, ways should exist for different ethnic and racial groups to learn about each other and to be involved with each other in activities based on common interests and concerns.

The first criterion above deals with the commitment of the community to enforce basic human rights and to combat racism: the second deals with the actual availability of effective mechanisms within the community for resolving racial conflicts; and the third deals with active acceptance of cultural diversity as a positive force in community life. We think that any group seriously concerned about racial tensions or ethnic relations in their community should examine how well that community meets these criteria. Different communities will vary in the priorities and the structures developed to address racial tensions, if they are addressed at all. Our criteria provide a framework for assessing whether these priorities and structures serve the real needs of the community.

If racial tensions are apparent in a community, we assume that members of both the visible minority population and the majority population will be concerned. As they assess together the needs of their community in relation to what is happening, we suggest they examine the Community Advocacy and Liaison Team concept described here to see if those needs could be met by application of that model to their situation.

A Community Liaison and Advocacy Team is the name we use to describe a multi-ethnic group of two or more people employed in a local community to help resolve racial incidents and to work with other community groups to promote cross-cultural interaction. The kind of community team we envision would include at least two people, one from the visible minority group most heavily affected by racial hostilities in the community, and one from the majority culture. They will work within each culture separately, in both cultures simultaneously, or bridging the gap between them. The team could certainly include more people, depending on any number of variables, including the size of the community being served, the number and kinds ofvisible minority groups present within the community, the level of racial unrest in the area, and the financial support available for staff members.

We think the team members must be thoroughly familiar with their community and all its resources and services. They should work out of an office that is easily accessible to those who may want their assistance, and they should publicize their presence and mandate throughout the community in all relevant languages. It is especially important that they be individuals respected and trusted by both minority and majority residents.

This team need not be a group of people working entirely on their own; it could very well be a team of workers within an already existing voluntary agency or service organization. Because team members may very well be working on cases that involve government personnel or agencies, however, we think the community advocacy and liaison team should not be connected to or part of a government agency. We think a non-governmental team will be better accepted by the community and will have more flexibility of action than would a government group.

We have said the team should be “employed”. We firmly believe this. The BCCLA exists through the generosity of time and efforts given by volunteers, and we would be the last to denigrate their work or undermine their commitment. Nevertheless, we believe that ongoing casework and follow-up, as well as other types of program continuity, can only be assured by regular day-to-day staff involvement of a consistently high quality. It is inappropriate to expect this kind of commitment from volunteers.

Related to the issue of employment is the question, given other kinds of social service agencies, why do we need Community Liaison and Advocacy Teams? Many local communities in Canada already have branch offices of statutory human rights agencies, as well as social service agencies that serve immigrant communities. They also have agencies that conduct a variety of programs or activities aimed at the needs and interests of different ethnic groups. Why then, are we convinced that a need exists for a program like a Community Liaison and Advocacy Team?

In the first place, statutory human rights agencies have jurisdictional boundaries that limit the kinds of cases they will handle. The racial incidents that were reported to our Project did not usually fall within the jurisdiction of either the federal Commission or the now dismantled B.C. Human Rights Branch. It is our impression that most people in Canadian communities are aware of the government agencies that handle cases of discrimination in employment, housing, and the provision of goods and services, and go directly to those agencies when such discrimination occurs. They need someone different to go to, however, for assistance with cases that are outside the jurisdiction of the statutory agencies.

Could those cases be handled by the other social service agencies in the local community? Our answer here is a carefully qualified “perhaps”, but we have little reason to believe that this is happening in very many Canadian communities. Ifa social service agency includes the handling of racial incidents as part of its mandate, and if it has the time, the staff, and the ongoing commitment to pursue racial issues, then an already existing social agency could be the local community resource for handling cases that fall outside the jurisdiction of statutory human rights agencies. We suggested earlier that a voluntary rather than a government agency would be the more appropriate base for a Community Liaison & Advocacy Team. To our knowledge, however, few government or voluntary agencies include race relations as part of their ongoing activities. Furthermore, those few that do offer services in the race relations area are usually heavily involved in serving their clients in other important ways, and rarely have the staff or time to concentrate on race relations as a separate focus over any extended period time.

If we look at other agencies such as local neighbourhood houses, community centres, and human resources and health offices, we seldom find resolution of racial incidents or programs to combat racism as part of their services. There are ESL classes, multicultural meals and social gatherings, services directed at immigrant communities, and occasional cross-cultural training sessions for staff—all of which have an important role to fill in the community. But to look upon these community agencies as the focus for local community work on race relations and the handling of racial incidents is to close one’s eyes to reality. They do not do it now, and it is unlikely they will do so in the future.

We think that a local community needs a clear focus for ongoing race relations work—a local community resource team whose sole purposes are to respond quickly and thoroughly to racial incidents and to support or initiate community based programs that increase racial tolerance and interaction—programs which other agencies, both government and voluntary, simply do not have the staff, the time, or the mandate to undertake.

In discussing a Community Liaison and Advocacy Team, we should remember that it is a model suggested for use once a community has decided it needs and wants a special community-based resource for combatting racism. If the community—including both its visible minority and majority residents—has decided to work with this model to improve race relations, then the work of the team can begin at once in an atmosphere of positive community support. The major functions of the team would be to complement the work of existing agencies by assisting victims of racial harassment to resolve their cases in the most effective ways possible; by initiating programs that other groups cannot undertake with the purpose of increasing cross-cultural interaction and understanding; and by acting as a local clearing-house and information centre on race relations and multicultural services and activities in the community.

Obviously. what a community team does will depend on what is needed is needed in the particular community where the team is located. Our Project’s experience gives some indication of the kinds of cases and activities a community-based race relations team might become involved in. It seems likely to us that a community team would divide its time among three roughly equivalent activities: (1) casework; (2) community programs; and (3) community liaison activities.

In regard to cases. the team should be prepared to work on issues such as verbal abuse, vandalism, more serious property damage and physical injury. They will be working on some cases that are under police investigation and on other cases where police involvement is only peripheral. They may become involved with other government and voluntary agencies when handling landlord and tenant disputes, residential zoning problems, compensation for victims of crime, and other matters that can evolve out of racial incidents. The community team should be prepared to work in neighbourhoods where incidents have occurred, helping to form neighbourhood support groups when such groups would be of assistance to the victim and of practical use in preventing the occurrence of further incidents. They should be prepared to explore various strategies in resolving cases, and be especially responsive to new suggestions and approaches for preventing recurrences of similar problems.

In the area of community programs, the aim must be to develop practical responses to race relations problems and issues that arise from within the community. Our Project staff discovered, for example, that harassment on buses was a serious concern for older Indo-Canadian gentlemen attending a particular senior men’s group that we had become involved with. Using personnel from the Police Department, the Metro Transit staff, and the relevant union, the Project staff worked with the Seniors to plan what could be done about such harassment and how to handle such incidents when they recurred. The social action committee from a local church is interested in involving its congregation in an education program about the religions and the cultural backgrounds of their Indo-Canadian neighbours. The Project is assisting the committee in planning programs to this end, and in looking at longer-range involvement in church groups in race relations activities.

What soon became evident in regard to community programs is that the local community will generate more ideas and suggestions for programs than can, or should, be handled by one group. And that is where the liaison work of the community team comes into play. Work of this type will improve the situation in any local community where various kinds of race relations work are handled by quite different community groups. In Vancouver as a whole there is the Vancouver Multicultural Workers’ Network, which meets monthly and is a conscious attempt to keep multicultural workers from all fields in touch with one another’s activities and concerns. There are other groups that also try to keep their members, other interested individuals and sometimes even the general public up to date on what is happening and who is doing what in the multicultural and race relations area. A major step toward pulling this information together and making it easily accessible to concerned groups and individuals would be the establishment of a Vancouver Multicultural Services Centre. Such a Centre has been proposed by the Vancouver Multicultural Society, the Committee for Racial Justice and the Vancouver School Board as a centennial project for Vancouver’s hundredth birthday in 1986. While we support and encourage that proposal, we also think that more localized communication and liaison work would have great value in the area of race relations.

Our Project, for example, frequently comes across programs, publications, speakers, courses and activities related to race relations that are not widely publicized and that we only stumble over by chance. On the other hand, we learn from various individuals and community groups about their interest in and desire for just those sorts of things which they do not seem to be able to get their hands on. We are aware of individuals in the school system, the Police Department, the legal profession, in churches and temples, in voluntary and in government agencies—all over the community—who have some useful contribution to make in the race relations field, and who often do not know one another or what else is happening that relates closely to their own concerns for the community.

A Community Liaison and Advocacy Team would be a real benefit to the community if it could open up lines of communication and awareness among the various groups and individuals whose work and interests relate to race relations and multiculturalism. At the same time, the team could become a local resource centre for residents who want or need information about multicultural and race relations activities in their own community.