Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Free racist incident helpline in over 240 languages, ready to provide support

By Vaseline May30,2024
Free racist incident helpline in over 240 languages, ready to provide support

PEOPLE in B.C. who witness or experience a racist incident can now call a new hotline to receive trauma-informed, culturally appropriate support in more than 240 languages, the Ministry of Attorney General announced Thursday.

The Racist Incident Helpline is a free, accessible service created in partnership with United Way BC 211. The helpline was created for people who have been victims of discrimination based on their skin color, culture, ethnicity or place of origin.

Callers will receive support and guidance, including referrals to local community support services, such as advice or assistance in reporting to law enforcement.

“Hate incidents are deeply traumatic for the victims,” said Attorney General Niki Sharma. “This helpline opens up new opportunities to access support that meets people’s unique needs, whether that means helping you pursue legal outcomes or making you feel less alone by having someone to talk to.”

Callers are asked to provide a description of the incident and where it occurred, and whether they would like to release basic demographic information.

The anonymized and aggregated data collected will help the government better understand where and how racist incidents are happening in British Columbia. This information will support the province’s efforts to more effectively combat racism through targeted programs, services and initiatives.

“As someone who has dealt with the pain of racism, the launch of the Racist Incident Helpline feels very personal and deeply meaningful,” said RM, a person with lived experience who prefers to remain anonymous. “This helpline will not only provide a safe space for victims to share their stories and receive support, but will also serve as an essential bridge between where we are today and a more understanding, inclusive and united society.”

To help people most effectively, the Province has consulted with various groups, such as the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, law enforcement agencies, municipalities and partner organizations of the Resilience BC Anti-Racism Network. The First Nations Leadership Council, Métis Nation BC and the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centers were consulted to ensure the helpline’s approach is culturally sensitive and discrimination-based.

“Racism is a painful reality in the communities we call home and we are here to support those affected,” said Jasica Grewal, director of community impact and investment, United Way BC. “The Racist Incident Helpline builds on the success of our existing helpline services, including 211 British Columbia, and is fundamental to our goal of creating healthy, caring and inclusive communities that are safe and welcoming for all.”

Local organizations can apply to United Way BC for funding if they are interested in becoming part of the helpline’s referral database. Relevant services include:

* accessible individual counseling and peer support group programs;

* anti-hate and diversity education and skills-building programs;

* workshops for building resilience and creative expression;

* creating and distributing educational materials; And

* celebration and awareness events.

“We know that racism can take many different forms, all of which need to be addressed and acknowledged,” said Mable Elmore, Undersecretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. “Knowing that you are not alone and that there is someone to help can make all the difference in these situations. That is why the helpline is so important.”

The United Way BC 211 Racist Incident Hotline can be reached by calling (toll-free) 1 833 457-5463 (1 833 HLP-LINE).

The helpline is not intended to replace emergency services. People needing immediate assistance should call 911.

Quick Facts:

*The helpline is available weekdays from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (Pacific Time).

* Outside of these hours, callers can leave a voicemail with contact information for a callback

Learn more:

Read more about the Racist Incidents Helpline here:

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