An Open Letter to Ensure Inclusive Language

RainCity sent an Open Letter to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General requesting they change their forms so they have inclusive language. You can read the letter below.

May 3rd, 2023 

OPEN LETTER  – Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General 

Policing and Security Branch | Security Programs Division Criminal Records Review Program | Risk Assessment Office  – P.O. Box 9217 Stn Prov Gov’t Victoria BC V8W 9J1 

Dear Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General: 

Re: Request to update forms with inclusive language 

RainCity Housing is an organization that provides shelter and supportive housing, sustains relationships, strengthens communities, and makes change for people experiencing homelessness and mental health, trauma, and substance use issues. We serve a diverse group of people, and this diversity is reflected in our staff group. While we strive to be an organization that supports our clients and employees in their differences, some of the forms we are compelled to use are not reflective of this support, carrying non- inclusive binary language. Our wish is to dismantle this bias and ensure a safe space for our employees by ensuring that all employee-facing forms, documents, and paperwork show respect for our employees’ identities. 

We call out to you to stand in solidarity with gender-diverse, gender queer, and non-binary trans people, and update the form “CRR010 Employee Consent to a Criminal Record Check”, which currently only provides a binary gender option. 

Our organization understands that misgendering and disrespecting people’s gender identity is a form of discrimination. It can cause long-lasting physical and mental health harm to a historically disadvantaged group and its intersectionalities, and further negatively stigmatizing and invisibilizing them, furthering gender dysphoria. We recognize the detrimental impact of this and strive to have all our communications reflect our inclusion and equity values. 

We see an emerging national trend in decentering normative identities. Since 2018, the Government of British Columbia in collaboration with ministries of Health, Citizens’ Services and Attorney General, provides its citizen the choice to display an ‘X’ as a gender in government-issued IDs and Birth Certificate. This option is also provided by Passport Canada. Both the United Nations and the Canadian Ministries have been studying a non-medical model of gender identification. As set in 2021 by the Tribunal Member Devyn Cousineau in a complaint before British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal (File CS-000956), gender identity is a fundamental part of a person’s identity, and it is both discriminatory and a violation of one’s dignity to undermine, erase, and degrade someone’s gender identity in their place of work. It adversely impacts their employment, and their safety is undermined. Devyn reminds us that Human Rights law is concerned with the impact of our choices, and not its intentions. Gender expression is at present a protected ground under the B.C. Human Rights Code. 

It’s important for all organizations to take a step back and determine the relevance of preemptively collecting gender information. If it’s assessed that collecting gender information is of significant importance, the most inclusive way to do so is to allow participants to identify their gender in their own words, as no list could ever fully capture the expansiveness of gender diversity. At a minimum, organizations should strive to provide participants with non-binary gender options. 

Taking the time to uproot systemic discrimination within an organization’s practices sends the message to all stakeholders that their identity and gender expression is seen, recognized, and respected. Inclusive forms provide a more accurate data collection of the diversity in our community, they affirm the community members of their humanity, and they are an important part of LGBTQ-affirming culture. 

We hope you understand the gravity of this topic and how our nation’s systems have historically dismissed and failed to adequately respond to these concerns. We hope that we may hear your addressing of this urgent matter promptly. 

We invite you to be part of the change. Thank you for your cooperation.


Catharine Hume & Greg Richmond

Co-Executive Directors 

RainCity Housing and Support Society 

616 Powell Street, Vancouver V6A 1H4

Our Statement on the East Hastings Decampment

As a witness to the recent decampment efforts on East Hastings, RainCity Housing is choosing to publicly express its extreme concern about the current and ongoing impacts of the approach taken on individuals and communities of people in the DTES area. 

Members of the DTES community continue to experience extreme hardship and tragic loss of life due to the ongoing drug poisoning epidemic. This epidemic is not unique to the DTES nor is it unique to people experiencing homelessness in this or other areas of the City or province. This epidemic, though, does disproportionately impact people living in poverty, Indigenous people and members of other equity seeking communities. 

We know that the ongoing encampment displacement has placed vulnerable individuals at even greater risk, further isolating people who are at high risk during the drug poisoning epidemic, a public health emergency. We know this primarily through the work of members of our Peer Services Department and we thank them for their ongoing work in the community. 

We are concerned that these elevated risks will continue. Decampment approaches, in the absence of real and adequate housing alternatives, are not only not a solution, but they also create further harm for vulnerable populations. This is the case in the current decampment. 

The lack of meaningful consultation and partnership with the majority of non-profits, agencies and organizations in the area is troubling, and resulted in decampment activities that lacked meaningful considerations of the safety, dignity and engagement of people themselves. 

It is important to acknowledge that this issue cannot be characterized as a solely DTES issue: homelessness and disenfranchisement are a growing reality in communities across the province, and long term, collaborative, community-based approaches to addressing these issues is the only way forward. 

At RainCity we are committed to continuing to build relationships based on trust, mutual respect, and cultural safety with Indigenous people, Black people, people of colour, women and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. We will continue to actively listen to the voices of those impacted and work alongside them and with other partners and all levels of government to identify potential solutions to address the root causes of homelessness. 

We call on all levels of government and community organizations to prioritize evidence based and culturally safe harm reduction strategies to address both the relentless drug poisoning crisis and the affordable housing crisis. We know that there are many people throughout Vancouver and across the province who are working hard to create solutions and build bridges across differences.  

Our collective efforts should be on creating more housing supply, and not on forced decampments that contribute nothing positive to our housing crisis and end up harming people and reinforcing the discrimination that our communities face on a daily basis. 

Shared Post: CAEH features two RainCity Housing First Programs

Some of the Leaders of our Housing First teams. From left to right: Jolanta, Bernie, Chelsea B, Chelsea R, and Gina

For this month’s blog we’re sharing the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness’s Bright Spots blog post that features our Surrey ICM Team and our LGBTQ2S+ Youth Housing First Program.

It talks about the importance of having folks with lived experience working and managing programs, particularly when Housing First is a crucial part of the program.

Head on over to their blog and have a read!

It takes a village to create homes

On Friday, March 29 we were part of the official opening event for the first of two modular housing projects in Chilliwack. It really does take a village to make changes and only by working together can we address crucial issues like addressing homelessness.

In the photograph above, from left to right are: Bill Briscall, Communications & Fund Development, RainCity Housing; Rod Simpson, Manager of Yale Modular, RainCity Housing; Laura Caron, Director of Clinical Services, RainCity Housing; City of Chilliwack Coucillor Harv Westeringh; Honorable Selina Robinson, Minister for Municipal Affairs & Housing; Catharine Hume, Co-Executive Director, RainCity Housing; City of Chilliwack Councillor Jeff Shields; City Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove; Phill Hall from the Sto:lo Nation; City of Chilliwack Councillor Sue Attrill; Robert Taylor, Assistant Manager of Yale Modular, RainCity Housing; Paula Potter, Indigenous Cultural Liaison, RainCity Housing; Allahyar Raza, BC Housing.

All levels and types of government, people throughout the community sharing tasks and knowledge, all working towards a collective goal – ending homelessness.

On the left is Phil Hall from the Sto:lo Nation welcoming us all, and on the right is Horse Woman (Paula Potter), RainCity’s Indigenous Cultural Liaison Worker that will work onsite in Chilliwack.

What will happen on this site in Chilliwack?

There is clearly a need for more affordable housing in Chilliwack. The modular housing will open in April 2019 and tenanting will begin towards the end of the month.

Residents will be provided meals and have access to life and employment skills training, and receive health and wellness support services to assist them in overcoming health and other challenges in order to maintaining their housing.

RainCity’s responsibilities include property management, operations management, and tenant selection in collaboration with BC Housing and community partners. Once people move in, staff provide 24/7 on site support to tenants.

An invitation to join the Community Advisory Committee

If you are a community member – either a business owner or residents – that lives and/or works near 45944 Yale Road, you may be interesting becoming a member of the Community Advisory Committee for this modular housing.  

The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) monitors progress and discusses issues and works towards constructive solutions to issues. It plays a key role in addressing concerns and helping to successfully integrate the building and its residents into the community.

The committee includes:

  • Members of the Community (5 to 7 residents and/or businesses)
  • RainCity Housing
  • City of Chilliwack
  • RCMP
  • Fraser Health
  • BC Housing

If you are interested in becoming a member of the CAC, read the Terms of Reference (to be confirmed by the CAC membership), download the Community Representative Application Form and email the filled out form to Rod Simpson, the Program Manager at

We look forward to working with all of our neighbours, partners and the 11 communities that make up the Sto:lo Nation.