Black Lives Matter
June 10, 2020
Black Lives Matter.
Black Trans Lives Matter.
Black Queer Lives Matter.
All Black Lives Matter.
Vancouver Pride joins those across the continent and globe who are denouncing the murders of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, and countless others. Their lives mattered, and yet they were stolen by the police.
We stand with Black communities who have taken to the streets to demand accountability from the police.
The roots of Pride are in righteous anger, riot and uprising against police brutality. These riots against the violence of the police were led by Black and Brown trans women and queer people. The Stonewall Riots propelled gay movements from assimilationist tactics towards unapologetic Pride. These riots worked.
Despite continued attempts at reform, we are still watching horrific police brutality against Black folks, Indigenous folks and People of Colour, as well as Trans folks, Disabled folks, and Deaf people, sex workers, unhoused people, drug users and others targetted by the police for violence. We are being called upon to follow in the leadership of Black people who have never stopped doing this work.
We know it is not enough to make an empty statement of solidarity. We know that Pride has not always focused on the needs and voices of oppressed communities, and that this has caused harm to members of our communities. Confronting anti-blackness, racism and white supremacy in our organization and within society at large requires tangible, actionable long-term commitments. We have spent time this past week listening to Black, Indigenous and People of Colour voices and learning about what our immediate next steps need to be. We are committed to continuing this work to confront racism and white supremacy for the long term and will invest resources and time into doing this work as an organization.
- No Police in Pride
Law enforcement, including correctional officers, are not welcome to march in the Vancouver Pride Parade or exhibit at our festivals. Vancouver Pride will inform police why they are not welcome to participate in our events and continue to educate the public about why we have reached this decision.
- Public Safety Advocacy through Defunding Police
We agree with the statements in Black Lives Matter – Vancouver’s open letter to the City of Vancouver, Vancouver School Board, Vancouver Police Department, and VPS. There is a strong call to Defund the Police.Calls for and funding for police reform have not worked. Period.It is time to invest in alternative ways to manage public safety. We commit to learning and convening community dialogues about what these alternative forms of managing public safety look like and to press the City of Vancouver to address the concerns submitted in BLM-Vancouver’s open letter, as well as, information collected from these community discussions.
Every year we commit bursary funding towards Two-Spirit, trans and queer organizations to create events and public art. For 2020, we will allocate an additional $5000 bursary fund to support groups and organizations doing anti-racism work.
Our board and staff, at our February 2020 planning session, committed to examining and shifting our hiring practices. One of the action items was to hire a QTBIPOC into a senior management position at the first opportunity. We will be posting a position in July and will ensure that the correct outreach is done to enable VPS to hire a QTBIPOC into this position.
We commit to hire more year-round QTBIPOC and Two-Spirit staff as per our applications to Anti-Racism Action Program and Women and Gender Equality for funding, and to actively seek sustainable funding to have these or similar positions continue long term.
We commit to continuing to examine our current hiring procedures in order to implement practices around recruiting, interviewing, onboarding and retaining QTBIPOC and Two-Spirit staff as per our 2017 planning session and February 2020 strategic planning. We understand that VPS needs to ensure we continue to unpack white supremacy in our space to ensure that QTBIPOC folks who are part of our team do not experience harm.
Our February 2020 Strategic Plan includes board outreach to recruit Black and Indigenous folks for board positions as they become available. These positions will be available at our next AGM in November 2020. We will do this through concerted community outreach.
- Community Building
We commit to continue our work of repairing and rebuilding relationships with BIPOC individuals and organizations by community building, centering BIPOC folks in visible, authentic ways, so that BIPOC people feel comfortable applying for board and staff positions at Vancouver Pride, performing on our stages and attending our events.
- Pride Season
This year we commit to:
- All QTBIPOC and Two-Spirit performers for East Side Pride and Sunset Beach Main Stage Show
- Prioritize QTBIPOC and Two-Spirit performers for every other event
- Offer Black organizers the resources to host a virtual or 50 persons or less in-person event during Pride Week
- Hire QTBIPOC and Two-Spirit facilitators to create 2-3 anti-racism workshops to be scheduled during Pride Week
- Work with QTBIPOC and Two-Spirit educators to create an anti-racism educational campaign of short videos that will be shown before and during virtual events
In addition to maintaining our previous commitments to:
- Host another QTBIPOC Event during Pride Week with $10,000 going towards paying QTBIPOC artists, performers and event organizers
- Dedicate headliner funding towards a BIPOC performer
- Host another QTBIPOC Talent Show in the fall
- Work with Two-Spirit advisory committee to hold a Two-Spirit event before March 2021
Work with and pay Black, QTBIPOC and Two-Spirit communities
We are proud to continue the work we have been doing with QTBIPOC and Two-Spirit communities. We know that lasting change often requires slow work done out of the public sphere. We will continue doing this work, however revolutionary times call for bold actions. We hope our communities will join us in taking bold action following the leadership of Black organizers whose calls for justice lift us all up.
We are aware this work is ongoing. We commit to listen and learn from QTBIPOC and Two-Spirit communities who are the experts in what their communities need. We understand that we will make mistakes and that it is our job to be humble, listen, and do better. We commit to working with and paying the Black, QTBIPOC and Two-Spirit people who expend labour to advise us.
Here are actions you can take:
- Join Black Lives Matter – Vancouver’s calls to action
- Donate to the Black in BC Community Support Fund for COVID-19
Here are educational resources:
- Why #8toAbolotion
- Sandy Hudson – Black Lives Matter Canada and ‘Defunding Police’
- Desmond Cole – Disarm and Defund Police
- Critical Resistance – Reformist reforms vs abolitionist steps in policing – infographic
- Pivot Legal Society – 17 years of police violence in Canada
- BC Civil Liberties Association – Police Accountability