Today is Juneteenth. As HarbourCats, community members, co-workers and friends, we felt we really needed to say something to recognize this day, this time in history, and the effects we are still seeing today, on a global scale.  We discussed many possibilities of how to approach it, what statement do we make…and finally realized, it’s not our statement to make.

Now is not the time for us to be speaking, it’s the time for us to be listening, supporting, and amplifying the voices and businesses that deserve to be heard, that need to be seen, and that need to know how valuable they are to our community, our business, and our Country.

Today the HarbourCats will not be releasing any personal marketing, instead giving all of our Social Media on all of our platforms over to local, Black owned businesses in our community.

And in that regard, below is a note from Richard Michaels, HarbourCats Director of Community Relations and a prominent business member in our community:

I recently attended a Black Lives Matters round table meeting at Saanich City Hall with Mayor Fred Haynes, Chief Constable Scott Green, Saanich Inspector Todd Bryant, Saanich Police Staff Sargent Scott Treble, and members of the Police Commission Board. Present also was ten of the Black community leaders. Social Distancing protocol formally was adhered too.

The meeting was structured to orient the participants on a range and scope of items pertaining to the black community. Racism, Racial Profiling, Policing/De-escalation, Discrimination, Housing, Mental health, Immigration, Child care, Employment, and Community Wellness. We talked about making effective change and providing space where people can challenge their biases and unpack their privilege. We discussed implementing a number of specific initiatives to generate positive outcomes in the name of creating a diverse and inclusive community that is also a reflection of its black community members. We also committed to continuing dialogue.

Here are things I have learned through reading and proactive research.

We like to think we don’t have a problem with racism in Canada. After all, it doesn’t fit our apologetic, easy-going, welcoming nature.
But, for a moment consider this – oppression by its very nature renders silence.

It’s how and why it can be so powerful. People of color do not have the same sense of safety that translates to assertiveness in speaking their truth to power.

To the untrained eye, racial profiling is so hard to fathom in a place like Victoria, but it’s only because incidents of this nature are so rarely spoken of.
When you say, “I don’t see color” it only serves to perpetuate the issues surrounding racism in, if you’re unable to acknowledge that people around you are of a race different than your own, and what that means, you are likely privileged.

The accessibility of something as integral as employment and careers and community wellness, housing should not be determined by the color of one’s skin.

If you’re confused, ask a person of color about their day. Ask them about what they experience as they navigate life through Greater Victoria, where the majority of the population is white. Ask them to tell you about microaggressions.

Racism is easy to spot. We need to get better at calling out the subtleties.- the racial profiling, the idea that a man of color must be a thief, or couldn’t possibly have the money to shop in a specialty store, or drive a really nice car.

Imagine the current social upheaval focused on Black Lives Matters. Imagine Institutional racism, Imagine racial discrimination, police brutality and the conscious killing of unarmed black community men with no consequences, Imagine losing a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, a young child, simply because of their race or skin colour. Now, Imagine if they were white, and this was happening to your family members.

Oppression remains ingrained in Canadian society because we’re still not willing to have an uncomfortable dialogue about racism. It’s easier to stay silent and silence is an acceptance of the status quo. The status quo is no longer acceptable.

If you would like to understand the origins of racism I highly recommend starting, you view Netflix’s Documentary “13th”. Listening, learning, understanding, and positive action, enhances anti-racism reconciliation around the world.

We thank and commend Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, Saanich Chief Constable Scott Green, Saanich Senior police staff, and the Police Commission board for stepping up and taking a prominent community leadership role.

We thank Jim Swanson and the Victoria Harbourcats Baseball Club organization for being forward-thinking leaders in the social justice arena.
As a society, We can do better, We must do better.

Richard Michaels
Director of Community Relations
Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club

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