Tag Archives: Lower Mainland

Confessions of an ignorant Racist

The following piece is potentially triggering, and contains references to racism, racial slurs, and violence.This opinion piece is based on my personal experience and exploration within my lifetime, of the continuing cycle of systemic racism and colonial violence.

Associate professor Rajnish Dhawan, from the University of the Fraser Valley, makes a distinction between hate-based and ignorance-based racism. 

He is quoted in a series of programs that Fraser Valley Community Radio recently broadcast about Abbotsford’s hushed racist history.

That prompted me to think about the community I was raised in, across the river in Maple Ridge.

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The hushed Racist history of Abbotsford

By Aly Laube, Fraser Valley Community Radio, CIVL 101.7 FMLocal Journalism Initiative

Without the labour of Asian immigrants, who ran the city’s lumber mill and built railroads all over Canada, Abbotsford wouldn’t be what it is today. Many of the South Asian families in the valley are second and third generation Canadians with established roots in the local community. 

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Tying history to present-day racism

By Aly Laube, Fraser Valley Community Radio, CIVL 101.7 FMLocal Journalism Initiative

A co-chair of the Race and Anti-Racism Network and professor at UFV, Ian Rocksborough-Smith says white supremacy in the city now looks different than it did in the 1900s. Organizations like the Heritage Society are predominantly white as well, as are most of the other influential groups in the valley. Abbotsford is also the only city in the valley that didn’t swing NDP, and stayed largely Liberal in the last provincial election, and it’s the home riding of the Christian Heritage Party, which Rocksborough-Smith describes as “a white nationalist neo-fascist party.” This reflects the ideals and beliefs of the people living there: Largely conservative and religious. 

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Understanding modern racism

By Aly Laube, Fraser Valley Community Radio, CIVL 101.7 FMLocal Journalism Initiative

As a researcher at the University of the Fraser Valley, Olivia Daniels has noticed a divide between the white and brown students. A post made this year saying that there were “too many immigrants at UFV’ was met with a disturbing amount of support online, spurring Black Connections, a UFV-based group for supporting Black culture and excellence, to respond on their Facebook page, she recalls. 

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The Klu Klux Klan comes to Abbotsford

By Aly Laube, Fraser Valley Community Radio, CIVL 101.7 FMLocal Journalism Initiative

To understand the nature of systemic racism and white supremacy in Abbotsford, you have to understand the history. But that history can be hard to find, tucked away in archives and couched in vague language. The information is there if you look, and it speaks volumes about the area’s past in relation to upholding structures that support white settlers.

In 1925, American Klu Klux Klan members came to Abbotsford in search of new recruits. For $10 apiece, residents born in Canada, the US, the UK, and Northern Europe who were white, male, able-bodied, Protestant, and “of sound mind” could sign up to join the KKK and become part of an organized effort to “maintain forever White Supremacy.” 

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