Taken from an email received June 12, 2020 from the Toronto office of Amnesty International, the following draws attention to the fact that Canada is not immune to anti-Black racism. If you’re wondering what you can do to for positive change please keep reading. Below you will find five ways you can act in solidarity with groups on the front-lines of the fight to end systemic anti-Black racism.
In the two and a half weeks since George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, the names, the pain, the images and the violence associated with anti-Black racism in the United States have been absolutely searing.
In the midst of a pandemic and an economic crisis that is disproportionately impacting Black communities, the acts of police violence and the courageous acts of resistance by Black activists and allies once again highlight that systemic anti-Black racism is an entrenched, unrelenting human rights crisis – one that Black communities have endured for generations.
Systemic anti-Black racism is a global crisis. It is a crisis in Canada. Former and current Canadian politicians and other public figures have insisted that systemic anti-Black racism is not a concern here. While these statements have been roundly rejected by prominent advocates across the country, they reflect the beliefs of far too many.
Amnesty International unequivocally supports front-line groups and activists in communities across Canada who work tirelessly to expose systemic racism and demand justice for the growing number of Black people who have been wrongly arrested, mistreated or killed by police in towns and cities in all parts of the country.
Just two days after George Floyd’s death, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a Black and Indigenous woman, plummeted to her death from the 24th floor of a Toronto apartment building in the midst of an encounter with police.
Such incidents are not rare: in April, 26-year-old D’Andre Campbell was shot in his home by Peel police officers. In 2018, The Ontario Human Rights Commission interim report on anti-Black racism in policing stated that Black people in Toronto are up to 20 times more likely to be shot dead by police than white people.
Canada’s dismal record is clear and irrefutable. The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent has raised alarms about systemic racism within Canada’s justice system, including specific concerns on how police practices such as carding disproportionately impacts Black people. Those concerns are also documented in reports from the Ontario Human Rights Commission and Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. Amnesty International has called on governments and police forces across Canada to end carding, street checks and racial profiling.
Many Black activists in Canada and the United States are pointing to a glimmer of hope that the resulting waves of anger, outrage, courage and protest can and will unleash necessary fundamental change – change that dismantles the systems of oppressive white supremacy that are the source of anti-Black racism and have been its toxic fuel for centuries. Change that is truly transformative. Change that will endure.
You can use your voice today to help push for real change. Below are five ways you can act in solidarity with groups on the front-lines of the fight to end systemic anti-Black racism.
1. Send a message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Diversity and Inclusion Bardish Chagger, urging them to live up to their 2019 election promise to strengthen and double the funding for “Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy”.
2. Send a message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair, urging them to institute an absolute ban at federal level on practices of carding, street checks and racial profiling by police and law enforcement agencies, and to engage with their provincial and territorial counterparts towards the goal of having such bans extend to all police and law enforcement agencies in the country.
3. Ask your MP, MPP, MLA, and municipal councillors what they are prepared to do to address anti-Black racism in your community.
4. Learn from and provide active support to groups working to counter anti-Black racism in your own community, and inform yourself about proposals being advanced to defund or substantially transform police services.
5. Add your name to Amnesty’s call for justice in the case of George Floyd, and support the call for urgent reforms to address police accountability, deadly force, racism and gun violence in the United States. Nearly one million Amnesty supporters have signed the action.
We will also be sharing further resources and solidarity action opportunities over the coming weeks so that you can help pursue justice and address anti-Black racism in Canada.
As a member of the human rights community, you know that it will take more than sympathy and outrage to end anti-Black racism. Thank you for taking action today on this urgent human rights crisis.