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Teen activist calls for anti-racism policy

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 4:09 PDT, Mon March 29, 2021

Teen activist Naomi Leung is advocating for a stronger anti-racism policy in Richmond.

“I’m choosing to speak up against racism and the urgent need for anti-racist policy in Richmond because I recently celebrated the birthday of my 78-year-old grandma amidst staggering anti-Asian hate crimes rising,” says Leung.

A 17-year-old whose parents immigrated from Malaysia and Hong Kong, the Grade 12 student at Richmond Christian School addressed council recently alongside fellow community activist Karina Reid.

Leung also works with regionally-based Sustainabiliteens, and in a public video shared to social media explained that anti-Asian hate crimes are experiencing massive growth, which has made her “scared for my family, friends and community.” At her school, she initiated a path for students to discuss ways to care for racialized and marginalized communities hurt the most by climate change and global warming. And more recently, she she started a drive “to give students the space and opportunity to process overwhelming events that we see in the news.”

“This social justice space and climate collective are really just acting as a launching point for students to take future bold action to create a more just, good and equitable world. I hope to learn alongside my community and grow together in this understanding with them.”

Leung called on city council to collect data on race-based hate crimes and create an anti-racism and equity advisory committee, an anti-racism action plan, an equity and gender committee and a community energy emissions plan to address the emergency of the climate crisis. She also wants to see more measures to respect the Indigenous lands we live on.

“I want our Richmond council to listen to the voices that are communicating the need for comprehensive anti-racist policy and a committee, in order to show that they are taking addressing racism and race based hate crimes seriously,” says Leung. “It’s also important for them to acknowledge that other factors like gender, class, sexuality, and more play into Richmond citizens’ oppression.”

Councillors were supportive of the proposal with Coun. Linda McPhail making a referral to have the Richmond Intercultural Advisory Committee examine the material submitted by Leung and Reid and report back to council. 

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