PENTICTON, B.C. – Fort St. John and Dawson Creek are among a list of communities whose residents are encouraged to apply for free training on how to diffuse racist incidents.

The new, one-of-a-kind Anti-Racism Community (ARC) Stewards pilot program, developed by the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society, aims to tackle the alarming increase in racist incidents seen in both large and small communities across the province.

“We can’t stand by and allow this kind of hate to proliferate. We all have a role to play in confronting racism in our families and communities,” said Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives.

“This training will give people the skills and confidence they need to carry out anti-racism work and train others in their communities as we push forward to dismantle the systemic barriers that have held Indigenous, Black and people of colour back for generations.”

Applications are now open for the “train the trainer” program, which looks to educate residents in up to 15 small communities who possess a passion for leading anti-racism work.

The province says that successful applicants will learn the skills required to offer training to other residents on how they, as bystanders, can address racist incidents.

Applicants will also be taught how to facilitate community dialogues on racism and discrimination occurring in their communities.

People living or working in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Kitimat, Terrace, Houston, Smithers, Vanderhoof, Prince Rupert, Revelstoke, Penticton, and Vernon are encouraged to apply.

“You can’t ignore racism and hope it goes away. This program will give people the tools they need to train community members to address racism incidents and make positive changes in their communities,” said Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee.

“By providing more people with the skills and knowledge to dismantle systemic racism in their communities, we can build a better, anti-racist B.C. for everyone.”

Applications can be submitted online and are open until August 11th, 2022. Twenty spaces are available, with successful applicants beginning their training the following October.

To learn more about the program or to apply, click here.

Spencer Hall is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca and a recent graduate of the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Radio Arts & Entertainment program. Growing up in Northwest B.C. made Spencer aware of the importance of local journalism, independent media, and reconciliation. In his spare time, you can find Spencer reading, playing video games, or at the FSJ dog park with his dog, Teddy.