Racist signs reportedly advertising a "whites only" moms and tots group is under investigation by RCMP.
The City of Coquitlam states in a news release that it is aware of racist and exclusionary notices, which are "contrary" to community values and confirms that Mounties are looking into the matter.
Port Coquitlam's mayor is also speaking out against the notices and the city has sent out a statement, as well.
Brad West said via social media there is no place for racism in his city in response to a post about a sign advertising a "white's only" playgroup for kids.
"This vile garbage isn't welcome in our community, or anywhere else," wrote Brad West on X, the social media outlet formerly known as Twitter.
West said city bylaw officers went out immediately to remove the sign advertising the playgroup after hearing about it but couldn't find any signs.
"As soon as it was brought to our attention, Bylaw officers immediately searched the area & all bus stops, but no signs were present. Perhaps being removed by someone else."
According to a social media post by Black Vancouver on Sunday, Sept. 24, a sign advertising a "whites only" playgroup was spotted at a bus stop at the intersection of Shaughnessy Street and McAllister Avenue, close to city hall.
The post on Instagram has generated multiple comments and news stories in other media.
The sign asks people interested in the group to contact them via email and a Telegram account.
Screenshots of the WhitesTri-CitiesParentsandTots Telegram chat, posted by Black Vancouver, show that those interested in the group are asked to make their profile anonymous and to not reveal their phone number.
"Hello everybody, we are encouraged by the response already and hope you can hang in there until we are all comfortable going in person," the screenshot states.
The Tri-City News has reached out to the group but has yet to receive a response.
Coquitlam RCMP are aware of the incident and encourage residents to report incidents such as this to the Coquitlam RCMP at 604-945-1550.
A file number for this incident has been opened for the public to report to #23-25827 if any more signs are found.
You can find tips on reporting a hate crime below.
Anti-racism initiatives in the Tri-Cities
Under B.C.'s Human Rights Code, a person can't be discriminated against for race, ancestry, colour and place of origin.
The furor caused by the sign comes as the district responsible for schools in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody has hired a principal of diversity and anti racism and multiple institutions have taken part in anti-racism events in the last school year, with more to come.
In an update, School District 43 (SD43) noted in its most recent agenda that the new principle's job will be to support SD43's anti-racism action plan, including raising awareness, collaborative change, capacity building and school support.
In 2020, Port Coquitlam established a Roundtable on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to promote awareness and help the city establish an anti-racism policy.
The City of Coquitlam also has an Equity Diversity and Inclusion policy and program which "aims to break down barriers to ensure that everyone – regardless of race, age, ability, culture, gender, sexual orientation and other diversity characteristics – is able to live, work and thrive in a safe and welcoming environment."
How to Report a Hate Crime or Incident
- Report hate-motivated incidents at Report.RCMP.ca: Hate-motivated incidents are when a person is targeted by another person motivated by hate in a way that is not a criminal offence.
- Report hate crimes in person to Coquitlam RCMP or by calling 604-945-1550: Hate crimes are criminal offences that are motivated, or suspected to be motivated, by hate.
- Report hate crimes in progress to 911.
- Report a hate crime anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visiting solvecrime.ca.
- The Province of B.C. also provides information about hate crimes and reporting.
City of Coquitlam statement
"The City of Coquitlam is deeply committed to fostering an environment of equity, diversity and inclusion for all its residents. We are aware of the exclusionary and racist notices posted in our community, promoting activities that run counter to these principles.
"The notice in question promotes activities that explicitly exclude certain groups based on their racial background, this is the definition of racism. We want to make it unequivocally clear that such practices and sentiments have no place in our city. Discrimination and prejudice have no place in our society, as they run contrary to the values that we uphold as a community.
"Coquitlam celebrates its rich diversity, and we firmly believe that it is through the embrace of different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences that we grow stronger as a community. We reject any attempt to create division or foster an environment where children are separated based on their racial or ethnic backgrounds.
"We understand the importance of creating spaces where children feel comfortable and included, and we believe that these spaces should be inclusive of all races and backgrounds. Coquitlam encourages initiatives that promote unity, understanding and appreciation of the differences that make our community inclusive.
"We stand firmly against any message that promotes racism, discrimination, exclusion or harm to any individual or group. We encourage open and respectful dialogue that brings our community together.
"The Coquitlam RCMP are in the process of investigating the notices, and city staff will be immediately removing all notices posted on public property as they are made aware of them.
"Members of the public who have information to report on this matter are encouraged to call the RCMP’s non-emergency number at 604-945-1550.
"To learn more about the city’s actions and initiatives to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion, visit coquitlam.ca/EDI."