Vancouver City Council meets every second week. The clerk’s office shares upcoming agenda items and motions before these meetings, which can be accessed on this website.
When agenda items are released the week before council, a Watch Council member will go through and highlight and recommend any notable motions to be discussed with other Watch Council members. If there are any motions that significantly impact women, Watch Council members will be immediately notified and meet virtually that same evening to decide how to respond.
Here is the important motion we're taking action on for the week of February 7, 2022.
About the Motion
Response to Bill 21 - Quebec’s secularism law
The bill bans Canadians working in public service from wearing religious symbols including crosses, hijabs, turbans and yarmulkes.
Since its passing in 2019 it has disproportionately affected Muslims and Sikhs with minimal federal action
The World Sikh Organization of Canada, National Council of Canadian Muslims, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association are challenging this bill in the Supreme Court
The motion requests that Council urge the Mayor to publicly support the Supreme Court case and grant $10,000 to the cause from the City’s reserve fund
WTC supports this motion. There is no way to justify the existence of Bill 21 without perpetuating xenophobic and Islamophobic beliefs. Since its implementation, it has legalized discrimination towards, especially, Muslim women and Sikhs as they pursue careers in public service. In December 2021, a teacher in Chelsea, Quebec was fired from teaching third grade and moved within school administration. This underscores the bill’s effects of erasing the public-facing presence of Muslims, Sikhs, and other religious minorities targeted by this bill, silencing their voices, and removing their potential to influence at a civil capacity. The Muslim Advisory Council of Canada has labeled it a gendered islamophobia public safety concern as the group most affected has been racialized women - especially women wearing hijabs.
This concern is not limited to Quebec - religion-based xenophobia, and particularly Islamophobia, is present across all of Canada. A 2016 study from Environics Institute for Survey Research with 600 Muslims across Canada found that a third reported experiencing some kind of discrimination in their lifetime. Statistics Canada found that this is indeed a gendered issue in 2019 with Muslim women making up 47% of the targets of violent crimes, where as most other reported hate crimes targeted women 30% of the time or less - with the exception of Indigenous women. As Vancouver is one of the three Canadian cities with the largest Muslim population, it’s important that the City itself take action to stand in solidarity with the groups targeted and support the legal action against the bill. WTC also recommends that Council respond to the motion passed by the Racial and Ethno-Cultural Equity Advisory Committee to contribute at least $100,000 - equivalent to the amounts donated by the cities of Toronto and Brampton.
WTC sent a letter to Mayor and all City Councillors in support of Council Motion B3 ‘Supporting the Legal Challenge Against Discrimination Implied in Quebec’s Bill 21.’ We will read this letter publicly at the hearing later this week.