The West Coast Coalition Against Racism Society (WC-CARS), is a re-birth of the BC Organization to Fight Racism (BCOFR), which was originally founded in 1980 to oppose racism in British Columbia and had considerable success in uniting diverse communities in common struggle.
Today there is a pressing need to revive its proud legacy and build upon it to combat the current racist climate which manifests itself not only against Afro-Asian people of colour and the world's Indigenous populations, but also in the antipathy of Europe and North America toward Islam and Islamic societies in the form of Islamophobia. Antisemitism, the oldest form of racism practised by Christian societies, was however based on religion before the construction of the notion of race. “Untouchability” of the Hindu caste system is another ancient form of racism based on religion. Historically, the newest from of settler colonial racism is the Zionist racism practiced by the state of Israel against the people of Palestine. The objective of WC-CARS is to provide support, education and action to reenforce the struggle against all forms of racism. The organization will work to facilitate positive changes that address structural racism as well as overt racist practices in our community and beyond.
We recognize that the founding structure of American and European societies is grounded in the conquest of America. The establishment of settler colonialism in the Americas -- as in other parts of the world -- was based on the appropriation of the land and resources of the conquered territories and the dehumanization of the Indigenous people. The creation of plantation economies that sustained these settler colonies and provided Europe the wealth for its further development depended on enslaved Africans whose dehumanization was legitimized by racism. Significantly powered by the products of settler colonialism Europe developed industrial capitalism to claim world supremacy and establish a Eurocentric vision of the world. Capital led Europe to colonialism, which legitimized itself with the ideology of the civilizational and racialized superiority of the colonizer. Settler colonialism and colonialism, including internal colonialism continue a vigorous lie in Canada and other parts of the of the world, with the state of Israel’s Zionist racism against the people of Palestine and its annexation of occupied West Bank the most glaring example.
We believe that all struggles against oppression today are related and must come together both to make each struggle stronger but also because no partial gain can make substantial difference to the system as a whole. It is only by making a total change to the system of capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism that we can save ourselves from the catastrophe of climate change and the many forms of racialized, and sexualized oppression facing us.
We must come together to unmake a world built of violence, oppression, systems of dehumanization, and destruction of our habitat and build one where we can all live as equal human beings in harmony with nature.
Harinder Mahil has been an anti-racist and human rights activist since 1970’s. Over the last 50 years, he has worked for the International Woodworkers of America (IWA), Province of British Columbia and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC).
He was one of the founders of the BC Organization to Fight Racism (BCOFR) and the Canadian Farmworkers’ Union. He has served as Chair of the BC Council of Human Rights from 1992-1997 and Deputy Chief Commissioner of the BC Human Rights Commission from 1997 to 2002. He was acting Chief Commissioner of the BC Human Rights Commission when the previous liberal government of BC decided to dismantle the Commission. Since 2011, he has been a board member of the Dr. Hari Sharma Foundation for South Asian Advancement.
Rob grew up in the racialized cities of Windsor and Detroit. In fact, he was in downtown Detroit July 23, 1967, when the inner-city ghetto was set on fire and put into chaos for 5 days. In the end, 43 people died. This left an indelible impression on his life and reinforced his disdain for racism and its underlying causes. Over the years, Rob has held positions of major responsibility in different sectors in five provinces and all three of the Arctic Regions. Currently he is owner/director of Bergthorson Academy of Musical Arts, with locations in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, president of BCMEPS, (Bergthorson Community Musical Education Performance Society), an activist member of the Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance, and a founding member of WC-CARS.
Samir Gandesha was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and immigrated with his parents as an infant to Canada in the mid-1960s. Members of his extended family were expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin in 1972 and entered Britain as refugees. There, they were confronted by an ascendant xenophobic, racist far-right in the form of the National Front and British Movement. This traumatic period had a profound impact on how he views questions of hospitality, refuge, exile, identity, and politics more generally. After spending some time in the interior of B.C., his family moved to Vancouver, where he grew up. He is the Director of Institute of Humanities at Simon Fraser University where he has been teaching since 2003.
Sid has been active in anti-war, labour, and anti-racist movements his entire life. He spent most of his working life as the research director of the BC-based Telecommunications Workers Union, where he played an active role in promoting pay equity and women's rights and worked to combat the influence of deregulation in Canada's telecommunications industry. In 1980, he became a founding member of the BC Organization to Fight Racism, the forerunner of the West Coast Coalition Against Racism, which was established to combat the KKK when it threatened to sink roots in the province. In the run-up to the launch of the war in Iraq in 2003, he helped establish StopWar.ca, the anti-war coalition. Sid has been an active member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada, a Palestine solidarity organization, since he helped found it in 2008.
Prabhjot Parmar is Associate Professor of English at University of the Fraser Valley. Her research and teaching interests are strongly linked with community work—social justice, anti-racism, anti-colonial and decolonial narrative, Indigenization, migration, violence against women, and secularism, for example. She has actively volunteered with non-profit organizations since the 1990s. Combined with a spirit to contribute to one’s immediate and wider community, her commitment to anti-racism and equality reinforce her work as a board member at WC-CARS and Archway Community Services and as a member of the Arts Anti-Racism Action Plan Committee at UFV. She is also President of SANSAD (South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy). She is the co-editor of When Your Voice Tastes Like Home: Immigrant Women Write.
Zahid Makhdoom lives and works in Vancouver, BC, Canada. He was born in a small village in Sindh province of Pakistan. Came to Canada in August 1981 and has been a grateful refugee here. He is a former student leader and activist who was imprisoned in Pakistan several times either because of his writings or his engagement in the public protest movements for social justice, equality, socialism, antiimperialism, and secularism. He has lived in Vancouver since 1996, after he was appointed to the Provincial Court of BC bench as a Judicial Justice. In his previous lives, Zahid has worked as a journalist, university professor, and has written and published many short stories in his mother language, Sindhi, and essays in the English language. He moderated a Philosophers’ Café for over ten years under the sponsorship of the Simon Fraser University. He is currently, president of the Dr. Hari Sharma Foundation. He sings, dances, writes, volunteers and is a grandpa to a three years old.