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B.C. unveils 240-language racism reporting helpline

BY The Canadian Press, May 30, 2024 8:04 PM - REPORT AN ERROR

The province says callers will receive support and guidance, which could include referrals to local community support services, such as counselling or help with reporting to police.(Photo: The Canadian Press)

British Columbia has launched a new helpline for people who witness or experience a racist incident, with support available in more than 240 languages.

The province says callers will receive support and guidance, which could include referrals to local community support services, such as counselling or help with reporting to police.

It says callers will be asked to describe where and what happened, and whether they'd like to disclose "basic demographic information."

The province says data from the helpline will help officials better understand where and how such incidents are happening in B.C., to help them better combat racism through programs, services or initiatives.

B.C. Attorney General Niki Sharma says in the news release that hate incidents are "deeply traumatic" and the new helpline will open up avenues to address each person's unique needs.

The helpline will operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and the province says people who call outside those hours will be asked to leave a voice mail with information and a callback number.

People wanting to report an incident are asked to dial 1-833-457-5463.

The province says the line, which is toll-free and was established in partnership with United Way BC 211, is not intended to replace emergency services and people who need immediate help should still call 911.

It says local organizations can apply to United Way BC for funding if they are interested in being part of the helpline's referral database.

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