Kasari Govender, British Columbia’s Human Rights Commissioner, will be hosting a town hall via Zoom for Interior residents and organizations on Thursday, June 11. (B.C. Human Rights Commission)

B.C. human rights commissioner hosting town hall via Zoom for Interior residents, organizations

Kasari Govender said the priority is to hear about pressing human rights issues people are facing

B.C.’s human rights commissioner wants to hear from Interior residents and organizations about human rights issues impacting people’s lives.

Kasari Govender will be hosting an education and engagement town hall via Zoom on Thursday, June 11 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. with people and organizations from the Interior.

During the two-hour session, Govender hopes people will share insight on human rights issues impacting their lives and in turn she plans to share information about rights and responsibilities under B.C. law and human rights system.

The BC Office of the Human Rights Commissioner was newly re-established in September 2019 and Govender began working as the commissioner in September after being named in May 2019.

During the zoom session she will also share information about how people can seek support and justice when they feel they are being discriminated against.

Read more: Teach Black history to fight racism, starting in elementary school: B.C. students

It is an incredible opportunity, Govender said of her job.

Prior to being named commission she was the executive director of West Coast Leaf — a women’s legal organization. She worked there for 11 years.

Her office had scheduled to travel around the office for many months before the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold, with meetings in Kamloops and Kelowna cancelled at the last minute in mid-March.

“I had a planned a whole range of meetings and town hall sessions and meetings with First Nations,” Govender said. “It was really disappointing because we had a number of those in the works.”

So far five priorities have been identified since the new office was started in September.

One is addressing discrimination as prohibited by B.C.’s human rights code, most importantly employment, tenancy and providing services. The other four are strategic priorities focused on poverty as both a cause and effect of inequality, decolonization, rise of hate and white supremacy in the province and finally human rights for people who are detained in prisons or mental health institutions.

When asked about the anti-racism protests taking place in North America, Govender said it is a really important moment.

“I think there has been entrenched racism in both Canada and the U.S. right into the foundations of these countries. Change does happen through these ground swells of support of protests of people saying we will not stand for this kind of institutional racism anymore. Lives are at stake.”

She confirmed a large number or organizations have signed up to attend Thursday’s zoom session.

People wanting to attend the Interior zoom session can inquire by calling 250-216-4534.

Another zoom engagement session is planned for the northern region on June 25, 2020 as well as a number of online meetings with organizations throughout the province.

Read more: Williams Lake teens organize protest in support of Black Lives Matter



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