KELOWNA – The Social Planning Council for the North Okanagan has received $50,000 from the B.C. government to help eliminate racism in Kelowna and four other Thompson-Okanagan communities.

The Social Planning Council is the host agency for the Thompson Okanagan Respect Network, and partners with local agencies in Kelowna, Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Vernon and Penticton.

In Kelowna the council is collaborating with Kelowna Community Resources, which is hosting and promoting an anti-racism event titled ‘Respect Lives Here.’ Events will also be held in Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Vernon, and Penticton.

“Working to end racism means confronting prejudice and shining a light on ignorance,” says Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna. “Projects like these bring communities closer together by focusing on all that unites us, and demonstrating that diversity is our greatest strength.”

“Nearly 30 per cent of British Columbians emigrated from another country, making it the most ethnically diverse province in Canada,” says Norm Letnick, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country. “With ongoing dialogue and continued work, we can further address issues like racism and bring about change.”

“Racism comes in many forms– and so do the ways to address it,” says Steve Thomson, MLA for Kelowna-Mission. “Organizations can use this funding to create art, theatre, public dialogue, and a host of other types of community engagement events to combat it.”

“The Thompson Okanagan Respect Network is extremely excited to be receiving this funding because it means we can continue to host Respect Lives Here events in local communities,” said Annette Sharkey, executive director of the Social Planning Council for the North Okanagan. “The projects are designed to engage the community, educate stakeholders and celebrate our diversity. It’s wonderful to see so many community members become involved in Respect Lives Here events.”

The Social Planning Council for the North Okanagan is one of 14 organizations throughout British Columbia participating in B.C.’s Organizing Against Racism and Hate (OARH) program.

These 14 organizations are sharing $240,000 in funding from the provincial government towards activities in 24 communities that connect area networks in their common goal of wiping out racism. This includes local outreach, educational events, workshops and community engagements.

The OARH program helps communities address racism and create a long-term plan to eradicate violence, discrimination and hate in their communities.

Under the program, all activities must be developed using a collaborative, community-based process. This results in many communities combining efforts regionally to maximize funding.

Multiculturalism Week is recognized annually in British Columbia and this year it ran from November 15th to 21st.

To learn more about the Organizing Against Racism and Hate program, go to: embracebc.ca/embracebc/funding/organizing/index.page.