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Emancipation / BC Day Statement

Sunday, August 1, 2021

On this first provincially proclaimed Emancipation Day, our office joins in the reflection of our history and the difficult truths we are learning about racism and discrimination in our province – both past and present. We join in recognizing the systemic inequalities Black people in BC have faced throughout our history and continue to face today.

And tomorrow, as we mark BC Day in the year our province turns 150, we share in our province’s and country’s collective grief about the news of the unmarked graves of children being found at residential school sites. This is not a “discovery”, but rather an excruciating affirmation of a truth known for decades – a reminder that the harms of colonialism are not only something of the past, but still very much with us.

For our office, tasked with ensuring that all British Columbians are treated fairly by provincial and local public bodies, we are committed to taking a hard look at the service we provide to ensure that it is adaptable to the diversity of the people who come to us with complaints about public services. Through our investigations we aim to help remove historic and systemic barriers and disadvantages that continue to be experienced by too many British Columbians.

We are doing this with humility, knowing that it requires dedicated work from each of us. I hope today and tomorrow, you will join me in reflecting on some of the difficult truths about our province’s history including that many of the comforts we enjoy today have come, and continue to come, at the expense of so many.

In recognizing a true narrative of BC’s history, moving forward we look forward to a more fair, just and equitable province over the next 150 years.

Jay Chalke
Ombudsperson
Province of British Columbia

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