Commentary: We need formal recognition of the UN Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) in B.C
The UN Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) is an international initiative to promote and protect human rights, and proclaim the "recognition, justice and development" of people of African descent. However, there are just three years left and the B.C. provincial government has not recognized the Decade, despite repeated advocacy for years from the B.C. IDPAD Advisory Committee, composed of Black community leaders from across the province.
The federal government recognized the Decade in 2018 and allocated $25M in funding as a part of their commitment to supporting Canadian Black Communities. Other Canadian jurisdictions like the Province of Ontario have issued formal recognition and here in B.C., the City of Victoria passed a motion in 2020 to recognize the Decade, which included the development of a capacity building grant program in their goals. But until B.C. officially recognizes the Decade and allocates funding to help build the capacity of Black-led organizations, our local organizations cannot access the funding allocated in the 2018 federal budget unless they go through an office in Alberta. During this time of COVID-19 recovery and the commitments we have made to addressing anti-Black racism in B.C., wouldn’t funnelling this critical funding into the province be a no-brainer?
The BC Green Caucus supports the calls from the B.C. IDPAD Advisory Committee for a #BudgetToBuild: a 2021 budget line that is dedicated to funding Black-led organizations in B.C. as part of meaningful recognition of the IDPAD. This dedicated funding will help build community and strengthen our COVID-19 response because the Decade is more than just capacity-building for Black-led organizations. These are further investments into affordable childcare, food security, economic growth, local businesses, and more job opportunities for our province.
Last year, the B.C. Green Caucus began advocating for recognition of the Decade and vocalized our support of the B.C. IDPAD Advisory Committee after meeting with them to understand the impact formal recognition can have for B.C.’s Black communities. Leader Sonia Furstenau first made the call for recognition of the Decade in the Legislature back in June 2020. The Caucus originally was going to send a letter of support with the Committee’s letter to the Premier, but the snap election was called the same day. After the election concluded and the Legislature came back, the Caucus sent a letter and issued a press release calling for recognition of the Decade in December 2020. Below is the latest advocacy from the B.C. Green Caucus, expressing our support for a #BudgetToBuild:
April 7, 2021
Honourable John Horgan, Premier
Honourable Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance
Honourable David Eby, Attorney General
Honourable Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation
Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives
Dear Premier and Ministers,
We are writing to you today to express our support and echo the calls from the B.C. IDPAD Advisory Committee to dedicate funding to Black-led organizations by including their Budget to Build proposal in the upcoming 2021 Budget.
The UN Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) is an international initiative to promote and protect human rights, and proclaim the "recognition, justice and development" of people of African descent. In 2018, the federal government formally recognized the Decade and allocated $25M in funding, and last year made nearly $221 million dollars of funding available for Black-owned businesses as a part of their commitment to support Canadian Black Communities. However, B.C.’s Black-led grassroots organizations are not eligible to receive any of the dedicated funding from the 2018 federal budget unless they go through an office in Alberta because they are unable to meet the capacity and staffing requirements.
We are asking that you support the B.C. IDPAD Advisory Committee’s Budget to Build: a 2021 budget line that is dedicated to funding Black-led organizations in B.C. as part of meaningful recognition of the IDPAD as per the IDPAD Advisory committee’s recommendations. The IDPAD is more than just capacity-building for Black-led organizations, it is a further investment into affordable childcare, food security, economic growth, local business, development and more job opportunities for our province; all key components in our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
There has been an unprecedented increase of interest after the events of 2020, ranging from concern to outrage, in the face of systemic racism. But we need more than conversations - it’s the responsibility of legislators and elected officials to demonstrate leadership on anti-racism initiatives and take action. This must include stable funding for organizations that are on the ground and already doing the vital work in their communities.
We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has strained Budget 2021; however, Black-led organizations in B.C., like the African Arts and Culture Community Contributor Society (AACCCS) have advocated for recognition since 2017 and with only three years left in the Decade. B.C.’s Black-led organizations need stable funding. It is not too late to recognize the IDPAD and remove unnecessary obstacles blocking Black-led organizations from accessing federal resources.
Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the BC Green Caucus and MLA for Cowichan Valley
Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands