North Cowichan staff directed the council on a policy regarding gender-neutral language. Oddly enough, however, hidden within that policy were new terminologies related to minorities.
Staff directed the council to update the term ‘visible minority’ with ‘racialized communities’. The most confusing portion of this policy was how it came to be. While browsing the latest agenda you may have noticed a heading titled “Use of Gender-Neutral Language and Pronouns Policy”
See below, item 10.4
The policy includes a ‘tip sheet’ regarding using gender-neutral pronouns, as well as some new terms regarding how to address someone if you aren’t aware of their gender.
Along with this, were several updates regarding the handling of varied races and how they may be labeled within the municipality. Most importantly, this falls within the Council Advisory Body Policy. A very interesting viewpoint within this policy is as follows;
“Council will aspire to give precedence to Indigenous people, people from an equity-seeking group or a visible minority when appointing members to an advisory body, provided the individual meets the expertise required and/or has a demonstrated knowledge of the area(s) of expertise set out in the terms of reference.”
You can see this policy on the North Cowichan website here:
The quote, ‘give precedence to’ is an interesting one. A regular person may believe that giving precedence to someone means that you give them priority, or perhaps a higher level of importance. At least that’s what any dictionary would tell you. Some of the councilors suggested that’s actually not the case, and clearly have their own way of defining language.
Needless to say, we asked the council not to fight discrimination with more discrimination. That seemed like a simple ask, yet it turned into a rather heated debate that really put the spotlight on a few councilors showing their true colors.