CHETWYND -- A scathing report from BC’s Human Rights Commission is highlighting racism and discrimination faced by minority groups in Chetwynd.

The community brief was heavily focused on the impact colonialism and intergenerational trauma has made on Indigenous people in the district, who make up 26 per cent of the community’s population.

Interviews conducted with Indigenous participants found that they expressed higher-levels of mistrust of public institutions and the RCMP, alleging their interactions with police did not result in the same response or attention than that of non-indigenous residents.

In some cases, participants said their interactions with RCMP reflected over or under policing that unfairly targeted native people compared to their white peers.

Multiple participants said that the first time they experienced racism was in the education system, with many giving accounts of segregation and parents noting different forms required for registration.

The schools telling Indigenous parents their child’s attendance would be monitored to gauge education improvements.

“I did not necessarily want to register them as Aboriginal kids because there’s two different forms. And on this form it said something about how they were going to monitor absences and how they were going to report it and I’m thinking, this should be for every student in the class,” said another participant in the report.

Participants also expressed that they felt educators had lower expectations of them versus their peers, emphasizing passing as opposed to excelling.

Everyday discrimination in stores, restaurants, and casual interaction was also felt by Indigenous people in Chetwynd—coupled with gender-based violence.

“Participants shared that when industry resource workers come to town, they observe violence against Indigenous women and girls in particular,” said the report.

Filipino people, who make up the largest ethnic minority in Chetwynd, say they have faced discrimination for not speaking fluent English and issues obtaining higher paying positions.

“Filipino immigrants are often employed in low-paying customer service jobs that would otherwise go unfilled, resulting in a stereotype in Chetwynd that all Filipinos work at Tim Hortons,” said the report.

Members of the LGBTQ2+ community say they also experience micro-aggressions in their everyday lives, the report highlighting despite inclusive initiatives, during a 2023 Pride Walk, high school students pelted rocks at participants.

The commissioner also heard reports of continued sexual harassment faced by women in the workplace.

The report found that a transient labour force and a 'boom and bust' economy are not only exasperating human rights issues, but mental health and substance use concerns.

The report was part of a collection of briefs that looked to provide a snapshot of human rights in four communities across B.C. as part of the commissioner’s multi-year Baseline Project.

The Chetwynd report was formed following consultations with 39 participants through 17 interviews, and four focus groups.

The full report can be found on the BC Human Rights website.