On this day as the world celebrates the life of George Floyd, and like many across North America and the globe, the Black Community Action Network (BCAN) of Peel is deeply disheartened by recent tragedies of anti-Black racism that have sparked mass demonstrations across Canada, the U.S. and abroad. More troubling, however, is these incidents – the violent deaths of George Floyd, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and D’Andre Campbell – are the tip of a pernicious tapestry of anti-Black racism baked into all public institutions including policing, courts, corrections, education, health, and child welfare. The health disparities related to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing racial inequities and tensions surrounding education in Peel are just a few examples of pressing concerns about anti-Black racism in Canadian systems beyond policing.
While we are encouraged by the outpouring of support from allies among White and Non-Black People of Colour, we remain concerned that such sentiments will remain moot if our public institutions fail to implement strategies to identify and address anti-Black racism and the culture of White supremacy which perpetuates it. Regressive, colourblind policies and discourse (such as the dismantling of the provincial Anti-Racism Directorate, hiring of an all-White team of deputy chiefs and superintendents by Peel police, and claims of Canadian exceptionalism among politicians) are a reflection of the inconsistent commitment of our institutions to address anti-Black racism and making meaningful change.
BCAN stands in solidarity with the global movement to address anti-Black racism and demands that our politicians live up to their public statements committing to address anti-Black racism through the following actions that will help to turn our mourning, our pain into policy:
Government of Canada:
- Health Canada declare anti-Black racism a public health emergency, and require the collection and reporting of disaggregated healthcare race-based data including, but not limited to, data related to COVID-19
- Corrections Canada develop and implement a strategy to urgently address COVID-19 in correctional facilities, which disproportionately affects Black and Indigenous peoples
- Corrections Canada implement the recommendations to address anti-Black racism in Canada’s correctional facilities, as identified by the Correctional Investigator of Canada and the Senate
The Government of Ontario:
- Ministry of the Solicitor General launch full, transparent, independent and public inquiries into the deaths of Regis Korchinski-Paquet and D’Andre Campbell
- Re-establish full funding to the Anti-Racism Directorate
- Ministry of the Solicitor General develop and implement a strategy to address COVID-19 in correctional facilities, which disproportionately affects Black and Indigenous peoples
- Ministry of Education conduct a public review of anti-Black racism in Ontario’s public education system
Municipal governments and public organizations in Peel Region:
- Peel District School Board (PDSB) prioritize immediate and sustainable efforts to address anti-Black racism and respond to Ministry Directives, We Rise Together mandate and the FACES Report
- Peel Regional Police Service collaborate with Black communities to develop a comprehensive anti-Black racism strategy and allocate resources to support effective implementation
- Peel Public Health engage Black communities in developing a comprehensive strategy to address racial inequities related to COVID-19
- Regional Municipality of Peel re-allocate some of your funding and reinvest that money into mental health services, housing initiatives, harm reduction services, education, social workers and other vital black community/organizations-led health and safety initiatives
- Regional Municipality of Peel increase funding to Black-led and Black-serving social service agencies in Peel
- All municipalities in Peel implement an employment equity program to increase the hiring of Black and other racialized people within their organizations
- All municipalities in Peel implement an anti-racism public education strategy to help create a safe and inclusive community.
BCAN refuses to celebrate too soon but we are cautiously optimistic about recent efforts to address systemic anti-Black racism, such as the federal Anti-Racism Strategy, the review of the PDSB by the Ministry of Education, and the Pulling Together Initiative of Peel Children’s Aid Society. As we and other community partners commit to working with PDSB to address anti-Black racism and improve outcomes for Black students, we hope that we are also able to work with the other public institutions in the region to create a community in which all members are able to live, play and thrive.
Eliminating anti-Black racism will be a hard-fought battle that requires courageous and visionary leadership. BCAN is committed to working with our partners to mobilize our Black communities and building on a foundation of good faith with institutional partners across sectors, political affiliations and all levels of government.
The Black community is gasping for air. We all heard the dying words of George Floyd – “I can’t breathe!” and so the time has come for ALL systems to take their foot off the necks of every Black person and live up to their commitments to address anti-Black racism.