On April 30, 2021, Feminists Deliver submitted a statement to the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act.
We urge the Special Committee to centre the experiences of people most affected by policing. Law enforcement has demonstrated relentless violence which expands over generations, most especially subjugating Black and Indigenous women, as well as transgender peoples. Their voices need to be prioritized and is fundamental in eliminating violence. We expect the Special Committee to implement the calls to action as outlined in The Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry Calls for Justice, The Truth and Reconciliation: Commission of Canada: Calls to Action, and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre Red Women Rising report.
The role of the Special Committee is to make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly on reforms related to the modernization and sustainability of policing under the Police Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 367); the role of police with respect to complex social issues including mental health and wellness, addictions and harm reduction; the scope of systemic racism within BC’s police agencies; and whether there are measures necessary to ensure a modernized Police Act is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).
On July 22, 2021, Feminists Deliver will be making a presentation to the Special Committee to support our submission. Feminists Deliver members have also made their own submissions to the Special Committee. They have been invited to make a special presentation.
Original submissions from Feminists Deliver members
Presentations to the Special Committee
Feminists Deliver and member organizations presented to the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act.
Please review the audio presentations and transcripts below (this links from the BC Legislature’s website):
- Battered Women’s Support Services – Text | Watch
- Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre – Text | Watch
- Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs – Text | Watch
- Hogan’s Alley Society– Text | Watch (start at 11:15:44)
- Feminists Deliver – Text | Watch (start at 3:09:00)
- Vancouver Women’s Health Collective – Text | Watch (start at 3:27:32)
- West Coast LEAF – Text | Watch (start at 10:33:14)
- Pacific Association of First Nations Women – Text | Watch (start at 1:44:04)
Have a look at the rest of the presentations.
Send a message to the Special Committee
The Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act is interested in hearing from you about your lived experiences and frontline perspectives, as well as challenges and opportunities for improving policing in the province. Click here to preview the survey questions.
The survey includes several open-ended questions provided below. You have the option of uploading a document (including written or audio files) with your responses, filling out an online survey or providing a written response using this form and emailing or mailing in a document with your responses to PoliceActReform@leg.bc.ca or Select Standing Committee on Reforming the Police Act c/o Parliamentary Committees Office (Room 224, Parliament Buildings Victoria, BC V8V 1X4). Please note all survey questions are optional.
As you watch the Feminists Deliver presentations, we encourage you to share your experiences with the police as well as echo the calls to actions from our membership, who advocate for the wellbeing of women (cis and trans experience), femmes, non-binary folks, children, and 2SLGBTQQIAA+ folks, especially Black and Indigenous folks.
Keep in mind some of the points iterated:
Chief Judy Wilson, Union of BC. Indian Chiefs
The Police Act modernization process must ensure that First Nation governing bodies are engaged on a government-to-government basis that respects the inherent title, rights and treaty rights of First Nations; and the government of B.C. must engage First Nation governing bodies as partners in the development of legislation.
In this case, self-determination means both recognizing First Nations jurisdiction and ensuring that First Nations have the requisite authorities and capacities to choose and develop for themselves — as they would like to see — policing, justice and community safety initiatives that operate in their territories and how those activities should be governed. It means that no one but First Nations themselves should determine how they promote well-being and community safety for their people. Whether First Nations wish to establish partnerships, service agreements or their own police services, they should be respected and empowered to do so.
Diana Day, Pacific Association of First Nations Women
It’s so important that we do provide input for First Nations, as our people have been impacted by colonization and by the tragic treatment that we’ve been receiving from the police since contact. We all know about all of the terrible things that have happened to our people since contact and how the police were put in to ensure that our people are oppressed.
We’re finding that, moving forward — 2021, 2022 — this doesn’t work for our people. We have a lot of need to have input into this.
Angela Marie MacDougall, Feminists Deliver
It has been highlighted by the frontline work of our members and by the people they serve, there is rampant gender and racial profiling where Black and Indigenous women and girls experience a unique version of racism that intersects with misogyny for the profound effect of experiencing the least amount of protection by the state and public safety mechanism and are indeed targeted for police and state violence especially when they are faced with having to call 911. We acknowledge the police killing of Chantel Moore, a Tla-o-qui-aht woman who was killed by police during a “wellness check”.
Police reforms and legislation changes must specifically be revised to explicitly keep women and children safe. We categorically object to the police killing anyone including women and children. As it has been said by many who have appeared here, women should not be killed after calling 911 during a police “wellness check”. Every legislative tool and policy must be used to ensure that that state sanctioned murder or abuse of women and children is not permitted. It has been recommended that mental health practitioners accompany or replace police on health checks and we urge the committee to review jurisdictions that have piloted this kind of intervention.
Andrea Glickman, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre
The recommendations we will make centre on the enhanced safety of women and children, accountability of police, addressing and ending systemic racism through legislative tools, a legislated review system to audit police funding and commit to reduce funding for police to address issues that would be better addressed by professionals trained in mental health and in harm reduction.
Angela Marie MacDougall, Battered Women’s Support Services
What we recommend is that there be a comprehensive review of policing domestic violence and sexualized violence, specifically, within British Columbia. This review would be the opportunity for front-line workers to provide anonymous feedback to a special committee that would be able to evaluate the effectiveness of policing around domestic violence and sexual violence. This is very important because we make an assumption about the effectiveness and the role of policing.
We know that the vast majority of victims are not contacting the police, for a number of different reasons. The estimates are that 25 percent are involving the police, but I think it’s actually much lower than that. This is something that I think is really important: that we begin to understand those survivors’ behaviour. If they’re not contacting police, where are they getting support? How are they becoming safer within their communities? To evaluate that — I think that’s a very vital piece in thinking about police reform at this time.
Lama Mugabo, Hogan’s Alley Society
RCMP, VPD and other police agencies have denied the existence of systemic racism. Even a former Supreme Court of Canada judge, Bastarache, found the RCMP incapable of internal systemic reform.
We’d also like to remind you that this is not new. We need innovative and urgent actions to help cops do the job they’re equipped to do and to let go of duties that they were never suited to perform. The Police Act is a great home for mandates that will inform policing priorities.
Bina Salimath, Vancouver Women's Health Collective
We are past the time for raising awareness and implementing energy-efficient training. We’ve come to the sad conclusion that the police institution has not learned, because it is resisting change and is still in a place of general failure to pursue preventative strategies and of inadequate accountability structures, as the Forsaken report outlined. Having diversity within the institution will not change the oppressive system, as the folks who are recruited, and their members of the marginalized communities, have to apply laws that are created to benefit the wealthy, the able-bodied, the gender-conforming white folks.
Humera Jabir, West Coast LEAF
The majority of persons working in police oversight in Canada are white men who are former police officers. While anti-bias training of employees is a necessity, this training cannot make up for lived experiences. We are asking this committee to consider structural changes, such as a process for monitoring of police accountability by diverse communities and monitors with expertise in gender-based violence. We also would like to see a process for civil society interventions in police accountability.
We further urge this committee to adopt a coordinated approach to rebuilding the community and social sector, with the recognition that police reform is only one part of the picture. And we share that view with many organizations — that police ought to be detasked where possible and that funding that would otherwise go to policing should be put towards reinvesting in services that support communities on their own terms.