Good Neighbours Committee logo designed by Michael Antoine.

Good Neighbours Committee logo designed by Michael Antoine.

Q&A with the Good Neighbours Committee on social issues faced by Vanderhoof residents

Community education is a solution to some of the issues identified

The Good Neighbours Committee (GNC) in Vanderhoof have identified issues of inclusivity, racism, diversity, intolerance amongst others within the community.

Q: What are some issues that the GNC has identified in Vanderhoof?

A: Co-opting of anti-vax movement by groups supported by organizations like Action4Canada that promote hate (hate is equal to statements, publications, notices, etc. that are likely to expose a person or class of persons to hate or contempt). Resistance to inclusive curricula and activities in the schools – in particular to education about Indigenous history and our collective role, as a society, in maintaining power imbalances to the detriment of Indigenous peoples; and, in particular to Queer/Rainbow celebration/inclusion.

Q: Are there any solutions to those issues that the GNC has discussed?

A: We have focused on community education about hate groups, provided an avenue for concerned citizens to discuss and participate in problem solving, are responsive to incidences of racism and hate, both through community education and response and connection with the RCMP, and provided educational opportunities to combat racism and hate. We also actively support opportunities for inclusion, for example, by supporting the work of the School District around Share the Love day, the District of Vanderhoof around the Rainbow Sidewalk, community organizers around Black Lives/Indigenous Lives Matter rallies, and PRIDE 2022 event this summer at Riverside Park. We believe it is necessary to combat hate by actively supporting inclusion so that everyone is safe in our community.

Q: Diversity is important for any community to succeed. What can people do individually to bring that change?

A: It is important for all of us to challenge how we think and why we hold the thoughts and beliefs that inform our actions. We have all grown up in a society that at its essence is a racist system. To keep evolving we need to keep examining ourselves and keep getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Even nice people are racist, let’s keep growing into empathy and understanding, which requires some uncomfortable stretching

Q: What kind of work has the GNC done last year and are planning to do this year?

A: The Good Neighbours Committee has done a lot of awareness events and activities over the years, and more recently the group is helping to create action toward anti-racism. The GNC has had a few series of weekly discussions about the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and the UNDRIP Articles. We have also participated in and encouraged the community to join us at our Active Witnessing Training through ResilienceBC. Plans are afoot to create informative podcasts that highlight diversity in our community and provide information regarding how we can do better at making all feel welcome by pointing out the ways we exclude others or make them feel unwelcome in our community.

Q: How can people participate in your meetings or if people want to volunteer how do they reach out?

A: Follow our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/gnc.nechako and share our posts is a great way to help spread the word and create action. You can message us on Facebook or email gnc.nechako@gmail.com. Learn more about us, our history and past projects.

ALSO READ: Vanderhoof to hold first official Pride event in community’s history


Aman Parhar
Editor – Vanderhoof Omineca Express, Caledonia Courier

aman.parhar@ominecaexpress.com

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