March 21, 2021 | International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination aims to foster a global culture of tolerance, equality and anti-discrimination. This year’s theme is “youth standing up against racism”, reflecting how the youth populations showed up and supported marches, in-person and virtual protest as they mobilized participation, empowered each other to engage, and held each other accountable.
COVID-19 has heavily impacted youth communities, including those from minority backgrounds. Many are now grappling with an increase in racial discrimination, in addition to severe disruptions to their education; diminished employment prospects; and limited ability to participate in public life, which stymies their individual and social empowerment.
We reflect on not only the current events, but the history that perpetuated them, the future of equality and supporting emerging voices in the creative industries. The foundations of the creative industries lie in storytelling and the diverse voices behind them, as creative content is a powerful platform for transformation and social change.
Here are some of the ways the creative industries are telling their stories, taking action, and providing resources to unite and champion a diverse, equitable future for emerging creatives.
B.C.’s creative industries are opening channels and embedding principles of diversity and inclusion across the sector
Book and Magazine Publishing
→ Joshua Whitehead becomes the first two-spirit Indigenous person to enter the Canada Reads competition and win for his novel Jonny Appleseed published by Vancouver publisher Arsenal Pulp Press. Read more
→ Rocky Mountain Books creates Google map charting Black-owned bookstores across North America. View the map
→ Jim Wong-Chu was honoured this year, on what would have been his 72nd birthday. Wong-Chu helped found the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop in 1996 to create space for Asian-Canadian writers to flourish and challenge the dominant voices in the Canadian literary scene. The workshop’s magazine, Ricepaper, continues today in digital format. Read more
→ The Magazine Association of BC is undertaking a study: The State of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in the Canadian Magazine Industry. View their resources
→ In September 2020, The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) hosted a meeting for Black writers to share their experiences navigating the Canadian writing and publishing industry. Facilitated by Lawrence Hill, the meeting included writers working in a range of genres. Read the report of their findings here
Interactive + Digital Media
→ In North Vancouver, the First Nations Technology Council is a nonprofit working to ensure that Indigenous Peoples have the tools, education and support they need in order to thrive in the digital age. Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a pathway to ensure equitable access to jobs, training and educational opportunities for Indigenous people.
→ DigiBC has compiled a list of resources of communities, organizations and initiatives for a diverse interactive industry. View their resources
→ A First Nation on Vancouver Island is the first in Canada to use digital-twinning software to improve mapping and resource management across its territory. TimberOps functions as the “digital twin” of more than 350,000 hectares of unceded Mowachaht-Muchalaht territory near the west coast of Vancouver Island, mapping rivers, lakes, mountains, roads, trails and buildings as well as the locations of old villages and archaeological sites. Read more
→ IM4 Media Lab, created by Indigenous filmmaker, Loretta Todd, alongside media matriarchs Doreen Manuel, Cease Wyss, and Tracey Kim Bonneau is in collaboration with Emily Carr University to offer workshops training Indigenous peoples in XR. IM4 is dedicated to Indigenizing VR/AR/360 by enabling Indigenous communities to find effective ways to incorporate these technologies into educational, cultural, language, artistic and commercial applications. Learn more
→ MPPIA and Creative BC partner to create equity, diversity and inclusion Resource Index. View the resource index and the MPPIA ED&I Committee is amplifying stories from diverse voices in the film industry and facilitating open registration decolonization training
→ Reelworld Film Festival + Institute led by Tonya Williams, launches Access Reelworld a new database, to diversify Canada’s screen-based industries. Launched summer 2020, the database is creating access and inclusion for Black, Indigenous, Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American creatives and communities in the Canadian entertainment industry. Learn more
→ Vancouver-born actor Ryan Reynolds used part of his own salary to hire BIPOC crew members for his most recent film, The Adam Project. Reynolds said it was time to see more Black, Indigenous and people of colour on film sets and launched a new initiative, the Group Effort Initiative, to help make it happen. Read more
→ The made-in-Vancouver animated series Molly of Denali has been awarded a George Foster Peabody Award. Co-produced by Vancouver’s Atomic Cartoons and WGBH Boston for PBS KIDS and CBC Kids, the show is the first nationally distributed children’s series in the United States to feature an Indigenous lead character. Learn more
→ IATSE Local 891 released a statement addressing recent Anti-Black racism incidents and commitment to Anti-Racism. Read the statement
→ View the ten recruitment databases creating more access for underrepresented groups into Canada’s motion picture industry. View the Resource Index
→ Big Bad Boo Studios began with the goal to normalize “diverse” shows, bringing stories to the mainstream where lead characters have two dads, writing teams are gender-balanced workshops for BIPOC talent to change the colour of the industry from the inside out. Read more
Music + Sound Recording
→ Vancouver’s NuZi Collective launched Black Therapy & Advocacy Fund. The new initiative from the DJ collective and promoter group aims to connect black residents of Vancouver with therapy and mental health resources. The goal is to provide ten to 15 hours of therapy for ten disabled and LGBTQIA+ black residents free of charge, hiring advocates to act as a liaison between recipients and mental health providers. Learn more
→ First Peoples’ Cultural Council provides music funding through their programs as they act as a collective voice for their communities, to help preserve their cherished languages, arts and cultures. Discover their programs
→ Music BC compiled a list of resources for the music community to educate themselves on the continued discrimination in Canada. View the resources
Image courtesy of United Nations