A Letter from Heritage Vancouver on Anti-Racism
August 17, 2020
We have worried that this letter addressing the need for social justice could be interpreted as late. However, the time it has taken us to craft this letter reflects the difficulties in creating consensus when addressing such a complex issue. Through discussions amongst our leadership and core committees we have learned that we have different understandings and experiences of systemic inequality and how Heritage Vancouver fits in.
As a cultural and heritage organization, we actively participate in a system that decides what is considered important and whose stories matter. The events of recent weeks have posed difficult questions that are often avoided. These questions force us to look at our own position in society in a way that undermines implicit privilege and arouses a sense of our own fragility.
We are challenged to recognize how our way of living is complicit in systemic racism and violence against Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour as well as gender and class injustices. What has become obvious -no matter how difficult- is that we must start by looking inwards at ourselves and recognize that we are all descendants of a system which created, perpetuates, and legitimizes systemic violence and oppression. The news cycle has started to move on and it is even more critical for us to ensure that re-evaluating our social structures that are entrenched in colonialism remains top of mind.
As an organization, we feel we need to make good on the promises of systemic change that were aroused in us by the injustices in past weeks. One step that we are taking is through a series we are calling Reading Room. Here, we will be undergoing a lot of learning and unlearning to further educate ourselves. We will be opening our minds to different worldviews, deeper understandings of heritage and how to counter our implicit biases. There are many people and communities who have been directly affected by policies and systems that have disadvantaged them from having their heritage recognized in ways important to them. An integral part of “Reading Room” will be to deeply listen and learn from them. We invite you to join us in this journey.
Javier Campos, President