Delta’s OARH Committee formed in 2017. One of our first initiatives was to host public forums on racism and hate in Delta, one in North Delta and one in South Delta. This was an opportunity for residents of Delta to come together to discuss incidents of racism as well as gather like-minded people to begin to tackle the systemic nature of racism in general, as well as locally here in Delta.
In the fall of 2019, the committee decided that the best way to move forward as a more efficient and cohesive unit, to effect the change we wanted to, was to build solid, trusting relationships between committee members. We focused internally on having a shared understanding and experience of anti-oppression issues and work.
In early 2020, the committee participated in an Introduction to Decolonization workshop, hosted by committee members Rhiannon Bennett and Andrea Hilder through their consulting company Hummingbirds Rising Consulting. Rooting our work as a committee in the land we stand on was of vital importance. All Anti-Racism work must be based in decolonization.
Shortly after that workshop, the committee participated in a Gender Justice workshop facilitated by transgender human rights activist and social justice lawyer, Adrienne Smith.
And then in March of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As the world came to almost a grinding halt due to lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, we saw an exponential increase in reports of anti-Asian racism.
During those early days of the pandemic, the committee had weekly online check-ins and shifted our monthly meetings to an online platform. Those check-ins provided our group with an opportunity to be vulnerable, to lift each other up, and to commit to further learning and growth. These weekly meetings became opportunities for planning and action. This is when our little volunteer committee essentially became a working group.
As everyone was moving their work online, we were incredibly fortunate to learn from Cicely Blain of Bakau Consulting, who led our group in a two-part Unlearning Anti-Blackness workshop. The timing of this workshop aligned with the murder of George Floyd and the global outrage that followed.
Over the course of the summer of 2020, many white people in North America were confronted with the fact that systemic racial injustices and inequities exist. Many examples presented themselves – the murders of George Floyd, Chantel Moore and Joyce Echaquan to name just a few. Politicians, organizations, companies and institutions committed to ‘listening and learning’ about the obstacles and barriers for People of the Global Majority.
In June of 2020, we held our first of what would become many Active Witnessing Training sessions with Angela Ma Brown, an anti-racism educator in the Vancouver School District and beyond. We hosted these free sessions for the public, and had a number of people participate from all over Delta and Tsawwassen First Nation.
In the summer of 2021, we decided that we wanted to change our name to better reflect who we are and what we stand for. After a number of meetings, open to all members, we settled on Community Action for Equity and Racial Justice (CAERJ).
Events and Projects
We have hosted six Active Witnessing Training sessions with Angela Ma Brown, free to the public. Over the course of these valuable trainings, we have had upwards of 150 participants.
In the October 2020, we hosted All Candidates Conversations on Anti-Racism and Equity, one for the MLA candidates in North Delta and one for the MLA candidates in South Delta. Click the links in this paragraph to view the recordings on our Facebook page.
Due to the short election cycle in the 2021 Federal election campaign, we were unable to host an All Candidates Conversation with MP candidates. Instead, we opted for a questionnaire that was sent to the candidates and returned to us via email. We posted their responses to our questions on our social media pages.
We hosted a community debrief in June of 2021 called Stand Up and Be Heard! This is an important space to hold for folks in Delta to talk about their experience with Racism and Hate in Delta. We hope to host more of these moving forward.
We applied for the Canadian Department of Heritage Grant in 2019 and were awarded federal funding to produce a Social Media Moderator Training Curriculum. This will be provided to administrators and moderators of social media pages. Using a “train the trainers” model, we will be rolling this training out in early 2022.