Racial Discrimination in Canada
It might be surprising but racial discrimination in Canada is as worse as in the United States, if not worst. African Americans and the indigenous people (like always) face the fire because of their skin tone and origin. In recent times, intolerance towards people of other faiths such as Muslims has increased exponentially.
African American racism refers to racial discrimination against African American people. For decades, racism has been a problem almost all over the world. Considering the history of Africans and slavery, racism has almost been part of the lives of black people.
Even though nearly all countries have outlawed racism, it continues to be a potent menace in various parts of the world. For African American people, racism means that they face a lot of injustices in different forms of their lives.
Racial Discrimination in Canada
Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
Interestingly, when one talks about racial discrimination against African Americans, many people think of the United States, India, South Africa, or other places but ignore Canada. In fact, racial discrimination in Canada is experiencing the same as more serious than in the rest of the world (Mullings, Morgan, & Quelleng, 2016).
Whilst most Canadians would want to believe that Canada is a model when it comes to inclusion, the hard truth is that Canada has a long way to go when it comes to doing away with racism and achieving the treatment of African American people.
No Research Data is Available on Racial Discrimination in Canada
Firstly, it is pertinent to mention that data on racial discrimination in Canada is nearly non-existent. It means there is limited data available that highlights the sufferings of African Americans in Canada.
Although African Americans are 3% of the total population, and indigenous people are around 1.67 million (4.9%), no public or private data exists specifically showing racial segregation in various aspects such as education, health, business, job sector, and other such domains (Government of Canada, Statistics Canada, 2017).
For instance, Mahabir et al., (2021) say, “In Canada, there is a paucity of data on racialized health care experiences.” Strangely, no data is available on the challenges of African Americans in the healthcare service in Canada, which is a fundamental human need. The same thing goes for other institutions such as education and business. Therefore, no clear picture can be drawn about racial discrimination in Canada.
Racial Discrimination in Canada is an Ignored problem
The second important point is that racial discrimination in Canada is an under-discussed problem. When it comes to racism, the United States is considered a hotbed. The recent untoward events, such as the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer, further made the United States infamous for inherent racism.
It takes global events such as the Black Lives Matter campaigns and the killings of African Americans to draw attention to the reality of racism in Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recently said, “As a country, we can’t pretend that racism doesn’t exist here… unconscious bias is real and systemic discrimination is real, and they happen here in Canada” (Phillips-Beck et al., 2020). It goes to suggest that racism is a serious challenge in the country that requires substantive actions for the betterment of the world (Mullings, Morgan, & Quelleng, 2016).
Slavery and Colonialism are the Roots of Racial Discrimination in Canada
Thirdly, the roots of racism in Canada can be traced back to the 16th and 17th centuries when the European explorers and invaders clamped down on Canada. They killed most of the indigenous people citing different reasons such as being uncivilized. Phillips-Beck et al. say that racism in Canada “Dates back to the late 15th century when French and British expeditions explored, colonized and fought over various land areas across, what is today, Canada” (Phillips-Beck et al., 2020).
The birth of racial discrimination in Canada is no different from the United States because of the same roots. The situation did not change when Canada got semi-independence. This was because it was the same system that created racism in the first place.
Indian Act of 1876, the Taproot of Racism in Canada
The Canadian government created the Indian Act of 1876, which made racism systematic and deep. It was a bill to bring African Americans and especially the indigenous people into mainstream life. Sadly, it proved to be a cataclysmic move intended to wipe out the indigenous people and the African Americans.
Phillips-Beck et al. believe, “The Indian Act is, by nature, a racist document, designed to eradicate First Nation peoples out of existence” (Phillips-Beck et al., 2020). In other words, the Indian Act was racist that made racism a part of the government system and socio-cultural life. Hence, the colonial expansion of Europe gave birth to racial discrimination in Canada.
Canadians are Misinformed about Racism
While many Canadians would think that their nation is unique and African American racism is far less than in other nations, the reality is that racism in Canada is worse than the citizens ever thought. Strangely, more than half of the people believe that racism is no longer a problem in Canada (Jean‐Pierre & James, 2020). More than 90% of black people say they have been mistreated directly or indirectly (Jean‐Pierre & James, 2020).
Recent researches prove that racism is still a major problem in Canada, and its pervasiveness exists in almost every realm of life. Systemic racism against black or indigenous people is present in all spheres of life, including healthcare, education, policing, and, sadly, even employment. In fact, the indigenous people or the African Americans rarely expect fair treatment in any sector (Richardson & Reynolds, 2012).
Education and Racial Discrimination in Canada
Similarly, African Americans or the indigenous people in Canada face massive segregation in the education sector. In a high school in Toronto, a black student is 4 times more likely to be expelled for misconduct than white students.
It means the school administration is still unwilling to let them fully integrate with the system and become a part of mainstream life. If they keep on rusticating African Americans or the indigenous people based on the myths of incivility, students will continue facing socio-economic and personal challenges in their lives.
Moreover, even though both white and African American graduates will have the same credentials after graduating, the African American graduates will earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by their white counterparts. It suggests the inherent racism in Canada that keeps the indigenous people and the African Americans underpaid.
Business and Racial Discrimination
Moreover, the racial discrimination in Canada against African American and indigenous people is potentially alarming in the business and employment sectors.
Ethics in the economic realm requires that there should be equal job opportunities for people, and employment should not be based on race but on merits and qualifications. In reality, racism has permeated the job realm leaving many African American and indigenous people without jobs.
Because of the racism in the job environment, black people cannot get access to jobs, and worse still, they cannot develop their careers (Creese, 2019). The situation becomes even worse knowing that they are more likely to be furloughed or fired, making their career fragile.
No Incentives or Sponsorships for the Indigenous people and African Americans
There is no doubt that very few black people would get access to jobs, but sadly for the few who have access to jobs, career progressions are almost impossible due to racism. Due to this uncertainty of jobs, they cannot improve their socioeconomic life and continue to live as disadvantaged communities in one of the richest countries in the world.
Likewise, when there are sponsorships in the workplace, black employees are less likely to get sponsorships, while facing all these white professionals often do not see what the black people are going through. In other words, African Americans and indigenous people face segregation from sponsors who ignore or reject them for their race. Hence, there are few or no programs made to overcome the obstacles faced by black people.
Low-paid jobs for the Indigenous people and African Americans
Moreover, African Americans and indigenous people are less likely to get jobs, especially the better-paid ones. It means they have a few chances of becoming CEOs or other top-notch managers in big companies. Regarding leadership, the societal structure has placed whites as the dominant group and, therefore, authentic leaders while black people are at the bottom (Spiller et al., 2020). Such factors reveal the challenges back people face due to racism.
While other employees can grow and develop, the black or indigenous employees face the challenge of integrating into an entirely white workforce. While the other employees are comfortable in the working environment, black employees experience micro-aggressions and racism in every other way making the work environment toxic. It also shows that senior managers are more likely to misbehave with them as compared to other employees.
As already mentioned, with the level of racism in the job realms, African American people and indigenous ones are less likely to progress in their careers. Hidden biases make it hard for black employees to gain promotions or even gain leadership positions (Adejumo, 2020).
Health Services and Racial Discrimination in Canada
Furthermore, anti-black racism negatively affects the community, especially when it comes to health and community services. Brian Sinclair, a black woman in 2008, died in the waiting room of Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre after waiting for over 34 hours to be seen for a treatable illness. The healthcare service is no different for other women and men of different races who go unreported (Phillips-Beck et al., 2020).
In Toronto, Canada, black communities face many challenges due to the lack of proper health and community services. These translate to worse mental and physical outcomes in these communities as compared to other communities.
Racial Discrimination in Canada during Covid-19 Pandemic
The disparity in the access to healthcare between black people and white people is very vivid, especially during the pandemic, as most of the racialized communities were adversely affected by COVID-19 (Tuyisenge & Goldenberg, 2021). The bad health conditions of the communities go beyond the impacts of COVID.
For instance, “In Ontario, migrants represent just over 25% of the population but 43·5% of COVID-19 cases, mostly racialized visible minorities” (Tuyisenge & Goldenberg, 2021). It means that racial discrimination in Canada in healthcare against African Americans and the indigenous people is dangerously high. On the one hand, this situation points towards their substandard living conditions; on the other hand, it shows the poor healthcare service.
Diabetes, Hypertension, and other Health Challenges
Apart from that, health studies in Toronto show that black and indigenous women tend to have diabetes and hypertension compared to white women. The worse health outcomes have been caused by a bias that leads to worse treatment of black people than others (Syed, 2020).
Racial discrimination in Canada has also made black people seek comfort treatment less than other people, mainly because of affordability. Most black people do not have jobs, and they do not enable them to seek care. In most healthcare facilities, some practitioners give culturally competent care that would be most suitable for communities such as black communities.
Final Thoughts on Racial Discrimination in Canada
In conclusion, African American racism is a major problem across the world that is causing discrimination and untold suffering. Although racial discrimination in Canada is potentially serious, hardly this social injustice is debated or addressed.
Due to the high levels of racism, there are major disparities in education, employment, and access to care for African Americans and indigenous people.
Racism is unethical since it concerns morals and the treatment of other people. It negatively affects community and leadership as one community is dominant while the other has the lowest levels. Dealing with racism entails advocating for fairness, respect, tolerance, and decency, which would lead to equal treatment of people in society.
Now more than ever, Canada needs to eliminate racism and encourage continued action against racism in the region. There is a need to address racial discrimination in Canada and take sustainable and substantive measures to do away with the menace at the earliest.
Adejumo, V. (2020). ”Beyond diversity, inclusion, and belonging.” Leadership, 1742715020976202.
Creese, G. (2019). “Where are you from? Racialization, belonging and identity among second-generation African-Canadians.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 42(9), 1476-1494
Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (8 February 2017). “Census Profile, 2016 Census – Toronto, City [Census subdivision]
Jean‐Pierre, J., & James, C. E. (2020). ”Beyond Pain and Outrage: Understanding and Addressing Anti‐Black Racism in Canada.” Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue canadienne de sociologie, 57(4), 708-712.
Mahabir et al. (2021) ”Experiences of everyday racism in Toronto’s health care system: a concept mapping study.” Int J Equity Health 20, 74.
Mullings, D. V., Morgan, A., & Quelleng, H. K. (2016). ”Canada the great white north where anti-black racism thrives: Kicking down the doors and exposing the realities.” Phylon, 53(1), 20-41.
Phillips-Beck, W., Eni, R., Lavoie, J. G., Avery Kinew, K., Kyoon Achan, G., & Katz, A. (2020). ”Confronting Racism within the Canadian Healthcare System: Systemic Exclusion of First Nations from Quality and Consistent Care.” International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(22), 8343.
Richardson, C., & Reynolds, V. (2012). ” Here we Are, Amazingly Alive”: Holding Ourselves Together with an Ethic of Social Justice in Community Work.
Syed, I. U. (2020). Racism, racialization, and health equity in Canadian residential long term care: A case study in Toronto. Social Science & Medicine, 265, 113524.
Tuyisenge, G., & Goldenberg, S. M. (2021). ”COVID-19, structural racism, and migrant health in Canada.” Lancet (London, England), 397(10275), 650–652.Share