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VPS Apology + Response Regarding Upcoming Defund the Police Panel

Acknowledgement

It has been brought to our attention that it is inappropriate for Vancouver Pride Society to be hosting our scheduled Defund the Police panel discussion tomorrow without first addressing past harms. 

We want to first publicly acknowledge, apologize and hold ourselves accountable for the past harms done to the original members of Black Lives Matter Vancouver and other racialized community members who were and continue to be impacted by the actions of Vancouver Pride Society. We owe our deepest and sincerest apologies to members who were harmed or silenced by our decisions and regret that we didn’t ban police from marching in the parade earlier than we did. We are sorry that we didn’t listen and take action in 2017 when we were asked to. We apologize that we were not a strong, vocal ally who could have borne some of the backlash that BLM-Vancouver members faced over the years. 

We also recognize that words can be empty and meaningless without actions to back them up. We would like to ask for the opportunity to personally apologize to the original members of BLM-Vancouver and would like to ask to engage in an accountability process that involves reparation, justice and healing. We have reached out to several folks individually last week with this apology and invitation. We are now issuing this public statement in order to be publicly accountable. We are aware and understand that these folks may not be interested in accepting an apology nor wish to engage with Vancouver Pride Society at this time, given the harm that was caused. The offer to engage in this process will remain open. 

Panel Post-Poned

We have made the decision to postpone our Defund the Police panel discussion that was scheduled for tomorrow, April 13th, until a later date to allow time for VPS to engage with community members and further be accountable for past decisions and behaviours. 

We also feel that it is important for us to honour our commitments that were made in our public statement on June 10, 2020 which can be viewed here: https://vancouverpride.ca/news/black-lives-matter/   

In consultation with QTBIPOC community members, we committed to using our large platform and privilege to educate the public on what Defunding the Police could mean for our communities. We will continue to share educational content and other learning opportunities about alternative methods of public safety. 

There are amazing organizations and folks doing this education and advocacy work. A place to start is this letter to the City of Vancouver Mayor and Council which contains excellent information and resources. 

https://www.pivotlegal.org/joint_statement_re_vancouver_police_department_2021_operating_budget

Commitment to On-Going Growth

Over the last week, we have received comments from community members who expressed that they were surprised Vancouver Pride Society would be holding such a workshop and that it felt inappropriate based on our decisions about police participation in the parade in 2016 and 2017. We acknowledge that those decisions we made in 2016 and 2017 failed to recognize the police as an institution that perpetuates violence and causes harm.  

We knew we needed to invest in our own learning, continue to consult with and listen to community members, change policies and procedures, hire more racialized folks into year-round staff positions, continue to build bridges with marginalized communities and invest in QTBIPOC led community organizing.

If you would like to read about more specific details of the actions we have undertaken, please view click here