In August 2020, BIPOC USHR successfully obtained funding from United Way to secure two community navigator positions. Their role was to research and build solutions that address issues impacting BIPOC folx. This is work that has never been done before on PEI. Very often, it is white staff within white systems who research BIPOC issues and hold town halls with the community to “hear” us. However, without our lived experience, it is very difficult, virtually impossible, to create meaningful solutions for us. Genuine equity is acknowledging that our community work has to be done for us by us.
The community navigators spent time in the community, learning about the issues, building networks and providing community care. This was done in a number of ways, such as dropping off gift cards to individuals in need, accompanying folx to medical appointments, speaking to post secondary institutions to advocate for international students, helping folx access mental health support and legal support etc. As time went on, many of the same issues were repeatedly identified and the common denominator was systems. It is challenging to address a problem and make significant progress when the issue is systemic. The navigators identified four key areas that require urgent attention. These areas are the little fires that will grow into a bigger fire in PEI if we do not address them, now. As we have seen in the US and around Canada, ignoring racial inequity only strengthens racist attitudes and creates deeper divides between communities. The Island is small enough and we are at the cusp of a changing world; if we leverage the anti-racism movement momentum, the Island will be a better place to live for everyone. As we can see worldwide and throughout history, if we ignore the problem and lose the momentum, we will be creating a society that will eventually harm ALL Islanders.
The four key areas identified are:
- Mental Health
- Post Secondary Education
For each key area, the nature and urgency of the issues, a breakdown of the budget, and a list of key activities are detailed below.