On March 13, 2019 the City Finance and Programs Committee heard from speakers in favour of and opposed to a grant being awarded to Vancouver Rape Relief.
What was at stake on 13 March, 2019
Vancouver Rape Relief applied for a Direct Community Support Grant of approximately $34,000 or 3% of its $1.1 Million budget. The City of Vancouver had been providing similar grants for a number of years before this application.
Canada has enacted the explicit prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. Publicly-funded organizations are subject to the discrimination and inclusion policies and guidelines of their funding agencies, as they are written into contract requirements.
Speakers opposed to the grant award asked for the following:
That the City of Vancouver:
- adhere to existing inclusion written in the grant application,
- implement a complaint mechanism for discrimination,
- include serious financial consequences to instances of discrimination,
- give Vancouver Rape Relief up to 3 year to comply if it commits to do so.
- exclude organizations from participating for a period of time in any grant if discrimination occurs in one grant except in cases of unintended discrimination.
The sole proponent for the grant was Hilla Kerner of Vancouver Rape Relief. She was speaker number 11 on the roster. I am speaker number 9 and was the first speaker to register to speak about this matter. I learned about this at around 4:00 on March 12, 2019. I requested to speak at 4:07 that day. Kerner complained in her speech that her organization was not given special treatment and that she was not warned that people would complain about a transphobic anti-sexwork organization receiving money from a city that prohibits funding such organizations?
The White Saviour complex of Vancouver Rape Relief is sometimes baffles me.
Like every organization, Vancouver Rape Relief learned from the issue on the 12th when the recommendations were posted online. Like every organization, they have a vested interest in the process. Like every organization they organized as well as they could to get proponents to speak on their behalf.
It is in fact telling that NOT ONE ORGANIZATION was willing to send a speaker in support of Vancouver Rape Relief whereas a number of organizations spoke against the grant. In my own eyes, the fact that no other organizations supported them is confirmation that Vancouver Rape Relief’s credibility is at an all-time low in British Columbia. It is no surprise. the BC Federation of Labour, the BC Teachers Federation, IATSE, CUPE, and the Hospital Employees Union which together represent hundreds of thousands of unionized workers in British Columbia have all dropped their backs on them over recent years over their continuing and escalating outrageous behaviour.
I request to speak to the matter of the 2019 Community and Social Grants at tomorrow’s Standing Committee meeting. I believe it is Mar 13, 2019 9:30 AM: City Finance and Services.Me
The Morgane Oger Foundation has concerns about proposed funding of one or more organizations listed in the following document on the basis of a documented history of discrimination and recent statements of intention to continue to do so.
Morgane Oger Foundation
On 14 March 2019, the City of Vancouver granted the requested funding as a termination grant which can not be re-requested until Vancouver Rape Relief adheres to City eligibility requirements.
Audio Files of the City Finance And Programs Committee Speakers
The audio files are broken into two segments:
I believe the speakers order is: Morgane Oger (me), Jane Shi, Hilla Kerner (Vancouver Rape Relief, Meris Ngan-Colby, Sophia Nguyen, Catherine Mateo
Part 2 tbd
In an angry online message published between 14 and 17 March 2019, Vancouver Rape Relief claims that they were unfairly treated, calling the demand that a women’s shelter “for all women” be accessible to ALL women.
1. On March 14, 2019, at the end of a flawed and unfair process, Vancouver City Council voted to terminate the yearly grant given to us in support of our public education work. (This is incorrect. Each grant is independant and no grant has been terminated. VRR can apply once it meets the eligibility criteria of the City of Vancouver)
2. Vancouver City Council’s decision is intended to coerce us to change our position and practice of offering some of our core services only to women who are born female. Our organization’s status as an equality-seeking group and our entitlement to serve women who are born female was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 2003, by the British Columbia Court of Appeal in 2005 and by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2007. (Actually the ruling was about membership in an organization and SPECIFICALLY excluded the delivery of services)
3. Vancouver City Council’s attempt to undermine our autonomy as a women’s group — to decide who we serve, who our membership is and who we organize with — also undermines the protections the law has granted us. Such conduct has no place in a democratic society. (EVERY grantee is subject to the same inclusion requirements and VRR know it. VRR has NO PROTECTION of any right to discriminate in the provision of a service against ANY WOMAN)Vancouver Rape Relief
4. Vancouver City Council’s decision to cut funding from Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter is discriminatory. Many Vancouver City grants are given to organizations that deliver programs and support to specific groups of people such as Aboriginal youth, Chinese seniors, deaf persons and migrant workers. Rightfully, none of these groups have been challenged with the demand that they demonstrate “accommodation, welcomeness and openness to people of all ages, abilities… and ethnicities.” Such a demand of these organizations would be incomprehensible, as it would contradict the essence and purpose of their work. Yet, this is what is being asked of us under the guise of inclusivity. (If VRR wishes to be authorized to provide a service for cisgender women only, it can ask for that right from CRA and under the BC Societies Act. It has not asked for it and is therefore prohibited from discriminating accross explicitly prohibited grounds)
History of the Vancouver Rape Relief rejection of Trans women
Vancouver Rape Relief’s claims that they are entitled to an exception from the explicit prohibition to discriminate on the grounds of gender identity or expression relies heavily on the BC Appeals court decision Nixon v VRR 2005. I refer to in the case law history that defines Trans rights in BC, to in my piece about the event at Vancouver Public Library featuring VRR’s Lee Lakeman and Feminist Current’s Meghan Murphy.
This is a red herring for the following reasons:
The VRR v Nixon appeal’s ruling predates BC bill M27 and Canadian bill C-16 which added gender identity or expression to the enumerated list of explicit protections. It is prohibited in Canada to discriminate against one explicitly protected ground (for example religion, place of origin, race, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression) under the guise of protecting another (for example sex). If this prohibition is not upheld, VRR could as easily discriminate against Black Immigrant Females as it discriminates against Transsexual or Transgender Females today.
In its VRR v Nixon decision, the following points were declared and apply today to justify the decision that as a political organization serving the interests of a self-identified group, VRR was entitled to decide who entered its membership when it rejected Kimberly Nixon’s membership in the organization.
The 14 March vote was not unanimous, with one councillor voting against. To view the debate before the vote, click here