The B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has named well-known Vancouver activist and author Harsha Walia as its new executive director.
Walia, a woman of South Asian decent, is best known for her work with No One Is Illegal (NOII), a collection of groups and initiatives focused on rights and protections for undocumented immigrants. She’s also associated with the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, Vancouver’s annual Women’s Memorial March, Indigenous-land initiatives, and movements that advocate feminism, fight racism, and oppose modern capitalism.
In the past, Walia has made headlines as an outspoken voice against the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada’s role in the U.S. war in Afghanistan, and free-trade agreements that negatively affect local labour rights.
In 2019, she coauthored Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and before that, published her first book, Undoing Border Imperialism, in 2013.
A BCCLA media release states that Walia will officially assume the reins of the organization later this month.
“Harsha’s background as a community organizer and popular educator, and her work with Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and migrant communities, brings a unique set of skills and relationships to the BCCLA,” reads a message there attributed to BCCLA president Caily DiPuma.
“Harsha has always been known to the BCCLA as a generous ally who approaches community organizing with skill and humility,” it continues. “She has collaborated with us on numerous important campaigns over the years, including a recent collaboration against discriminatory police stops in the Downtown Eastside, the Justice for Lucía Vega Jiménez campaign, the Transportation Not Deportation campaign to end Metro Vancouver Transit Police's collaboration with CBSA, and public calls to shut down CBSA’s unethical “Border Security” reality TV show.”
Walia takes over the 58-year-old civil-rights organization following Josh Paterson’s departure last July.
Paterson left the BCCLA after holding the position of executive director for more than seven years.