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Rise in hate during pandemic to mark first-ever inquiry by B.C. human rights commissioner

Focus is on why hate is on the rise and what can be done to prevent it
Kasari Govender, British Columbia’s Human Rights Commissioner. (B.C. Human Rights Commission)

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B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner has launched an investigation into the rise of hate during the pandemic, commissioner Kasari Govender announced Wednesday (Aug. 18).

Much of the increase has been in anti-Asian racism. Govender said that there have been more than 1,500 incidents of anti-Asian racism reported during the pandemic.

“B.C. continues to report the most incidents per capita in North America,” she said.

However, Govender’s office will focus not only on anti-Asian racism. The inquiry will focus on “hate incidents,” which include racism but will also encompass hatred directed at all groups protected by B.C.’s Human Rights Code such as on the basis of religion, gender identity, disability, Indigenous identity, sexual orientation, poverty and homelessness.

Govender said that while some people may be uncomfortable acknowledging the rise in hate in B.C., that is a necessary step in combatting it.

She said that the focus is on learning why hate has grown amid the pandemic and to use those findings in future times of social upheaval.

It is her office’s first province-wide inquiry. The recommendations are not legally binding but institutions will have to report on what they are doing to combat hate, as identified in the forthcoming report.

Govender said that her office will begin gathering public testimony after the federal election this month but that participants will be able to share their lived experiences privately, to avoid blowback. Results will be available publicly.

READ MORE: More than half of Asian Canadians experienced racism, hate in past year


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