A poignant Pandemic Postcard Project submission has led Lesley Wright and Graham Hughes of Literacy Alberni on a new path toward anti-racism education. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

A poignant Pandemic Postcard Project submission has led Lesley Wright and Graham Hughes of Literacy Alberni on a new path toward anti-racism education. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

‘I am not a virus’: How one postcard sparked a Vancouver Island pushback against racism

Literacy Alberni receives $50K in funding to create web-driven system for reporting racism

“I am not a virus.”

Five simple words, so full of emotion, drawn on a postcard and mailed to Literacy Alberni, have started an anti-racism movement.

The postcard was part of the Pandemic Postcard Project and was written by a Grade 9 student from Qualicum Beach. Of Asian descent, the student was feeling the heightened anti-Asian racism over the novel coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE: Port Alberni pandemic postcard project asks people to share COVID-19 experiences

The message was profound, says Lesley Wright, director of projects and programs with Literacy Alberni Society. It caused staff and board members to look at the clientele they are serving—many of them immigrants whose lives are affected daily by racism in all sorts of forms.

They began looking at how they could bring the anti-racism message to a broader audience. They learned there was funding for that.

Vancouver Island NDP MLAs Josie Osborne and Adam Walker, say new Resilience BC recovery grant funding for Literacy Alberni will improve the Mid-Island’s ability to tackle and prevent racism heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everyone should feel welcome and safe in our communities, which is what B.C.’s anti-racism network works to achieve,” said MLA Osborne. “The Literacy Alberni Society is there to teach us about the importance of compassion, understanding and love for one another.”

“Fighting racism requires a multi-faceted approach, and it includes ensuring diverse populations have access to education and literacy services,” said Walker. “This funding will allow Literacy Alberni Society to continue advancing anti-racist and equitable education programs for all people.”

The Literacy Alberni Society is one of the 36 Resilience BC network organizations to receive additional funding in light of the increase in incidents of racism and hate during the pandemic. This grant is part of the BC New Democrat government’s response to further increase resources to address racism and expand multiculturalism throughout B.C. as part of the economic recovery from COVID-19. Overall, 57 communities will benefit from this increase of $372,500.

The society is busy making connections between the Alberni Valley and Oceanside with the intent of creating a community protocol against racism: who do you call if something happens to you? What resources are available? What is racism?

Literacy Alberni will also use its funding to create a digital reporting portal where people can report incidences of racism or hate. “This portal isn’t for the big instances,” says Wright. “It is about those little incidents that are happening daily.”

The resilience grants mean Literacy Alberni will be funded as a regional hub for one year.

“What Literacy Alberni is able to do with this funding is do more than having a conversation,” Wright said. They are able to develop a framework people can count on, that gives accountability to the reporting system.

The conversation will not end there, she said. The society will have more to announce later this month.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Alberni ValleyAlberni-Clayoquot Regional DistrictliteraryParksvillequalicum beachracism

Just Posted

Graeme Wright is the owner of Hullabaloo, a new ice cream and coffee food truck serving patrons at the Red Barn on West Saanich. (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff).
VIDEO: Cool treats, warm bevvies a specialty for new Saanich food truck

Hullabaloo owner Graeme Wright passionate about blending green space with sustainability

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

Nicky Cook and Kelly Yee set up their stand at Peninsula Country Market. (Black Press Media file photo)
Peninsula farmers markets ready to welcome back patrons

Both the Peninsula Country Market and North Saanich Farm Market plan to expand offerings in the summer

The closure of Government Street to vehicle traffic between Humboldt and Yates streets began June 11. The corridor will be pedestrian-only between noon and 10 p.m. daily until at least this fall. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Downtown Victoria timed closure of Government Street begins

Pedestrian priority times part of city’s Build Back Victoria program

Workers clean off the red paint sprayed on the statue of Queen Victoria at the front of the B.C. legislature Friday. It is unclear when the vandalism took place. A protest rally against old-growth logging was happening on the legislature lawns Friday afternoon. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
UPDATE: Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue base splattered with what looks to be red paint, old-growth logging protest held in afternoon

t
How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

The courthouse in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo man, already in jail, found guilty of sexual abuse of sons

Man previously sentenced for sexual interference involving girl in Nanaimo

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Lorraine Gibson, 90, received a COVID-19 immunization at the South Surrey Park and Ride vaccination clinic. (File photo: Aaron Hinks)
Surrey has had 25% of B.C.’s total COVID-19 cases

Surrey recorded 4,012 cases in May

Most Read