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Toll-free Racist Incident Helpline ready to provide support

May 30, 2024 at 10:03 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

People in B.C. who witness or experience a racist incident can now call a new helpline to receive trauma-informed, culturally appropriate support in more than 240 languages.

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

Callers will receive support and guidance, which could include referrals to local community support services, such as counselling or help with reporting to law enforcement.

“Hate incidents are deeply traumatic to victims,” said Niki Sharma, Attorney General. “This helpline opens up new avenues to access supports that matches peoples’ unique needs, whether that means help pursuing legal outcomes or feeling less alone by having someone to talk to.”

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

The collected anonymized and aggregated data will help government better understand where and how racist incidents are occurring 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 faced the pain of racism, the launch of the Racist Incident Helpline feels deeply personal and profoundly significant,” said R.M., an individual with lived experience who prefers to remain anonymous. “This helpline will not only offer a safe space for victims to share their stories and receive support, but it will also serve as a vital bridge between where we are now and a more understanding, inclusive and united society.”

To help people as effectively as possible, the Province consulted with a variety of groups, such as the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, law enforcement, municipalities and partner organizations of the Resilience BC Anti-Racism Network. The First Nations Leadership Council, Métis Nation BC and the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres were consulted to ensure the helpline’s approach is culturally sensitive and distinctions-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 being part of the helpline’s referral database. Relevant services include:

  • low-barrier individual counselling and peer support group programs;
  • anti-hate and diversity education, and skills-building programs;
  • resilience-building and creative expression workshops;
  • creating and distributing educational materials; and
  • celebration and awareness-raising events.

“We know that racism can come in many different forms, each of which needs to be addressed and acknowledged,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. “Knowing that you’re not alone and that someone is there to help can make all the difference in these situations, which is why the helpline is so important.”

The United Way BC 211 Racist Incident Helpline is available by dialing (toll-free) 1 833 457-5463 (1 833 HLP-LINE).

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

Quick Facts:

  • The helpline is operational from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. (Pacific time) on weekdays.
  • Outside of these hours, callers can leave a voicemail with contact information for a call back

Learn More:

Learn more about the Racist Incident Helpline here:

Learn more about United Way BC’s grants here:

Learn about the Resilience BC Anti-Racism Network here:

Learn about the Anti-Racism Act here:

Learn about the Anti-Racism Data Act here:

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