Big Brothers Big Sisters supports children, youth and families, with a strong and diverse network of staff in agencies across Canada. When incidents of hate and racism happen in our communities, we stand up against them and we stand with our communities.
Canada has a long history of discriminatory policies and practices that have impacted people of Asian descent since the 1880s. And more recently, there have been the distressing surge of anti-Asian attacks across Canada and the U.S. that have been reported during the pandemic. More than 1,150 cases of racist attacks have been reported in Canada according to a recent report titled A Year Of Racist Attacks: Anti-Asian Racism Across Canada One Year Into The Covid-19 Pandemic. We condemn these acts of racism and stand with our Asian staff, children, youth and their families, as well as their mentors.
We acknowledge that these historical and present racial injustices affect the communities we serve and the lives of children and youth in our programs who face systemic barriers. We acknowledge the many rallies across Canada this spring to #StopAsianHate showing support for Asian communities and to denounce anti-Asian racism in a growing movement calling for an end to violence. When we confront anti-Asian racism, we are confronting a history of colonialism, systemic racism, intersectional oppression, xenophobia, heteronormativity, and cis-genderism that are realities for many of the diverse communities with whom we work.
In our work, BBBS continues to address identity, diversity, inclusion, decolonization and indigeneity. With support from Heritage Canada, we recently introduced a youth-led initiative called Paying It Forward. Through this project, youth from the National Youth Mentoring Advisory Council delivered trainings and workshops to support mentors in having meaningful conversations with mentees about their identity and the intersections of identity with issues of equity, diversity, inclusion, Indigenization and decolonization. Through this project and others, we have learned that there is a difference between doing anti-racist work and valuing it. We must create safe spaces for critical dialogue and reflection about anti-racism within the entirety of the federation. We must be open to learn and commit to act based on what we learn together. And we must invest in initiatives and efforts to eradicate systemic racism sustainably, far beyond the ebbs and flows of the current news cycle.
As an organization that serves many Asians across Canada as employees, mentors, mentees and their families, we commit here to deepen the way we value anti-racism to ensure that all young people, especially those from Indigenous, Black, Asian and communities of colour, newcomer, immigrant and refugee communities, feel safe and included within BBBS. #BiggerTogether.