A few months ago, I met Jalana Lewis, a young woman from Halifax who lead a public survey of the candidates running in the 2017 Nova Scotian provincial election on issues related to African Nova Scotians.
The survey, a project of African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition, asked respondents for their takes on environmental racism, historic land claims, access to health and education, and position on street checks (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/survey-african-nova-scotian-blacks-politicians-election-1.4133184).
Vancouver is home to peoples of diverse religions, genders, sexualities, races, and abilities. I'd like to know more about how you — the candidates — will represent and address the concerns of equity-seeking groups in our city such as: Indigenous peoples, people of colour, persons living with disabilities, women, and the LGBTQAI2+ community.
This is a voluntary survey about issues that you may have not considered or encountered, but are nonetheless important to "equity-seeking" voters. Please answer as many or as few questions as you can and feel comfortable.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive questionnaire that represents all points of views and experiences in Vancouver; instead, this project is an imperfect reflection of the conversations and concerns in my communities. I recognize my own and my contributors' limitations in both lived experience and capacity to represent all intersectional identities and communities.
Individuals and organizations who have contributed to this survey include:
—Stephanie Allen—Aslam Bulbulia—Ian Bushfield—The Cambie Report—Ela Esra Gunad—Hogan's Alley Society—Khelsilem—Lost Votes YVR—Michelle Lorna Nahanee—Kimberley Wong—Ellen Woodsworth—Women Transforming Cities
Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and for running in the election. It is a courageous act.
Your responses to the questions below will be shared widely with voters. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.
Megan Lau email@example.com.
*Response deadline is October 4, 2018 at 5:00pm Pacific Time.
"Intersectionality" is a term that now appears in various public policy programmes of the City of Vancouver, such as: the Women's Equity Strategy, Creative City Strategy, Healthy City Strategy, and the City of Vancouver's Code of Conduct. The City of Vancouver is currently developing an "intersectionality framework" so that the City can apply an "intersectional lens" when developing and implementing policy.
Examples of intersectionality initiatives proposed or implemented in governments include: - A Toronto councillor proposed "Intersectionality Awareness Week" as a “first step to help City Council and city staff better understand the experiences that shape the lives of Black, Indigenous and other racialized individuals in Toronto.” - The Government of Canada uses the Status of Women Canada's Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) training course and program. The Minister of Finance "proudly noted that every single budget decision was vetted through GBA+."
References:1) City of Vancouver. "City of Reconciliation": https://vancouver.ca/people-programs/city-of-reconciliation.aspx
2) Georgia Straight. "Vancouver's Indigenous people are again heavily overrepresented among the city's homeless, count finds": https://www.straight.com/news/1068636/vancouvers-indigenous-people-are-again-heavily-overrepresented-among-citys-homeless
Permanent residents (PR) share the same responsibilities as citizens. Yet despite their contributions to our city they are left without a voice and without representation by our elected officials whose decisions affect them.
Without a vote, new residents can feel disengaged from our communities. Excluding them suggests that their voice is considered less valuable, and represents a major loss for a city that celebrates the benefits of inclusion, diversity, and multiculturalism every day. Voting for city council or the school board inspires confidence in a democratic system. It provides an equal opportunity for those who contribute everyday to the city they call home.
Eleven municipalities across Canada are working on extending voting rights to permanent residents. In April 2018, Vancouver City Council unanimously voted in favour of allowing permanent residents vote in civic elections, which will require changes to the Vancouver Charter through the provincial government.
References:1) City of Vancouver "Independent Election Task Force Final Report" (January 2017): https://council.vancouver.ca/20170124/documents/rr3AppendixA.pdf
A larger proportion of people of colour work in lower-wage jobs. A raise in the minimum wage will help women and people of colour and help address the gender pay gap and racial wealth gap in this city.
References:1) CBC News. "Ontario basic income pilot project to launch in Hamilton, Lindsay and Thunder Bay": http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/wynne-announcement-hamilton-1.4082476
References:1) BCCLA. "RELEASE: Civil liberties and First Nations groups launch complaint on discriminatory police stops; call for investigation": https://bccla.org/news/2018/06/release-civil-liberties-and-first-nations-groups-launch-complaint-on-discriminatory-police-stops-call-for-investigation/2) BC Human Rights Code [RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 210: http://www.bclaws.ca/Recon/document/ID/freeside/00_96210_01
In a 2011 report by, the Vancouver Police Department called the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada is "a national tragedy." It continues: "More work by all police agencies is required to build better relationships with Aboriginal communities. There is a legacy of mistrust and perceptions of police apathy from the community that must be overcome. In addition, police must proactively target predatory offenders who prey on Aboriginal women."
Sources:1) Women Transforming Cities. "Hot Pink Paper Campaign 2018 Municipal Election Guide": http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/2247cc_83e5c72c16b34d9bbe1993bfe8c9160a.pdf2) Vancouver Police Department. "The Tragedy of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada": https://vancouver.ca/police/assets/pdf/reports-policies/missing-murdered-aboriginal-women-canada-report.pdf
Many Muslims, particularly women, choose to hide their religious identities for fear of being attacked or harassed. Muslims display characteristics of a community under threat and are often socially isolated from the city and its formal institutions based on the state's formation being based on ideas of secularism which disadvantage religious minority groups, particularly those which are newer to Vancouver.
Source:1) Women Transforming Cities. "Hot Pink Paper Campaign 2018 Municipal Election Guide": http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/2247cc_83e5c72c16b34d9bbe1993bfe8c9160a.pdf
In Vancouver’s 2014 election, women comprised 20% of Mayoral candidates, 33% of City Council candidates, 48% of School Trustee candidates, and 36% of Park Commissioner candidates (City of Vancouver, 2014). Of these, the majority were not women of colour or Indigenous women. (Source: Women Transforming Cities. "Hot Pink Paper Campaign 2018 Municipal Election Guide": http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/2247cc_83e5c72c16b34d9bbe1993bfe8c9160a.pdf)
Many people don't see themselves represented in municipal government. If demographic reality was to be reflected in our political offices, more people of colour, women, and LGBTQAI2+ people would hold office.