Black Lives Matter

June 17, 2020

The Vancouver and District Labour Council supports the Black Lives Matter movement, and all who are fighting to end systemic racism, white supremacy, and police brutality. 

At our June 16, 2020, regular meeting, delegates from VDLC affiliates engaged in a robust discussion and adopted two separate motions which recognize the existence of systemic racism in our society and the responsibility of the labour movement to stand for change, as well as express support for Black Lives Matter and its objectives. 

The motions adopted at the June 16 meeting are as follows: 

Subject: Black Lives Matter
BECAUSE the recent murder of George Floyd by police has been a tipping point in the struggle for Black liberation and against police violence in the United States, and has spread to other countries including Canada; and

BECAUSE Black Lives Matter protests and uprisings have been occurring over the past two weeks and are beginning to win promises of change from leaders in some jurisdictions; and

BECAUSE these demonstrations of popular outrage have been met by widespread police violence and repression targeting everyone from demonstrators to media personnel, medics to bystanders; and

BECAUSE the labour movement has an important role to play and cannot be silent about how racism hurts our members, divides our communities, and weakens our movement,

THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL reaffirm its longstanding commitment to oppose racism and discrimination in all its forms, including anti-Black racism, and in doing so will:

Express our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and with those who are demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Chantel Moore, and all who have lost their lives to racist violence.

Condemn the widespread police violence and repression against demonstrators, media, medics, and bystanders, which is being witnessed and decried across the globe.

Acknowledge that racism, including anti-Black racism, are not only problems in the United States but are equally problems here in Canada as well. We must not downplay or dismiss the experience of people of colour in Canada by drawing false comparisons with other countries.

Recognize that racism is not merely a series of harmful beliefs held by individuals, but a systemic feature of our socio-economic system with deep roots in its historical development. Therefore, we must press not just for educating individuals but for fundamental societal change.

Commit to hearing, and engaging in, the discourse on the question of policing reform, which has been thrust to the forefront by recent events and has seen a rapid growth in mainstream acceptance (For example, majority of City Councillors in Minneapolis have declared their intent to defund and dismantle the city’s police force and replace it with “a new model of public safety…”).

Commit to standing up for the rights and dignity of all, and promoting anti-racism, inclusivity, justice, and respect in our workplaces and communities.

Uphold the dignity of every member as essential to a healthy and vibrant union and workplace, while recognizing that racism and other forms of bigotry and discrimination divide workers and weaken our movement thereby harming all workers.

Work with our affiliates, the BC Federation of Labour, and the Canadian Labour Congress in conjunction with government, Indigenous peoples, civil society, and communities, to develop policies, programs, and initiatives to combat racism and bigotry of all forms.

Continue to seek to expand our Labour Education Program content dealing with questions of human rights, including anti-racism.

Commit that while this list may not be complete, and we do not presume to have all of the answers, we will listen, learn, and stand in solidarity.

Subject: Defund the Vancouver Police Department

BECAUSE countless Black, Indigenous, and other lives have been claimed by state violence and neglect in recent years; and

BECAUSE governments have continually used police as a substitute for proper social programs; and

BECAUSE the Vancouver Police Department budget currently takes over one fifth of the city’s budget and has grown by over 100 million dollars over the past 10 years; and

BECAUSE this is money that would be far better spent on programs based around such things as mental health, crisis management and de-escalation; and

BECAUSE the billions of dollars spent on policing in Canada can be reallocated to better support mental health care, affordable housing, public education, harm reduction, women’s shelters, transition houses, and early childhood supports; and

BECAUSE research demonstrates that community-based social programming is better at securing public safety and safe communities than police programming,

THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL support Black Lives Matter Vancouver’s call on the City of Vancouver to dismantle systems of violence and oppression; and

THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL write to Mayor Kennedy Stewart, and Vancouver City Council urging them to defund the VPD and redirect that money to other initiatives.

Further information: 

Black Lives Matter Vancouver

Canadian Labour Congress statement and resource list

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