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 Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-staff as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Curl B.C. chairperson Teri Palynchuk is this year’s winner of the Janette Robbins Award for leadership. Palynchuk is pictured here with the Curling Canada Foundation Cup along with past chairperson Peter Muir, left, and Curl B.C. CEO Scott Braley. (Photo courtesy Curl B.C.)
Nanaimo curling exec wins Curl B.C. leadership award

Teri Palynchuk receives Janette Robbins Award

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

CVSAR search the Puntledge River following a report of an abandoned kayak. Photo, CVSAR Facebook page
Comox Valley Search and Rescue spends four hours searching for no one

Overturned kayak a reminder for public to contact officials if they have to abandon a watercraft

Most Read