Canadian music industry figures to sign declaration for anti-racist action


Last year, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin, the music industry declared Blackout Tuesday and filled Instagram with black squares. The major record labels and streaming services set up action committees and justice funds while promising to address anti-Black racism in their own operations.

A year later, on June 2, the anniversary of Blackout Tuesday, three Canadian groups will ask those music industry higher-ups to make their action even more concrete. BDRB (Breaking Down Racial Barriers), CIMA (Canadian Independent Music Association) and ADVANCE (Canada’s Black music business collective) are launching the Declaration to End Anti-Black Racism in the Canadian Music Industry.

The declaration asks music leaders to build an inclusive industry by going beyond performative gestures – not to avoid racism, but to be actively anti-racist.

“To build an inclusive Canadian music and entertainment industry, it is critical to address the anti-Black racism that exists in the systems and working environments within which Black music professionals and creatives operate,” the declaration reads. “The eradication of anti-Black racism requires a commitment to anti-racism – an active, conscious and ongoing effort to work against racism: to acknowledge; to atone; to create mechanisms that dismantle systems which perpetuate racism, and to create actionable solutions with measurable outcomes.”

The Declaration builds upon last year’s 10-part series of roundtable discussions called Breaking Down Racial Barriers, and it includes seven action points:

  • The creation of anti-Black racism policies and training
  • Collection, tracking and public reporting of race-based data
  • Representation throughout the music industry ecosystem
  • Pay equity, fair treatment and support
  • Sharing of best practices
  • Partnership and investment
  • Moving beyond performance

Each point has a short explanation that also points towards an action to take. You can read the whole Declaration here and, if you’re in the music industry, sign it here.

The Declaration will launch on June 2 (just days before the Junos, which have also pledged to confront systemic racism) at 1 pm with a virtual event and public signing. Speakers will include Andrew Cash (president, CIMA), Keziah Myers (executive director, ADVANCE), Ian Andre Espinet (co-founder, BDRB), David “Click” Cox (co-founder, BDRB), Shauna de Cartier (president, Six Shooter Records), Steve Kane (president, Warner Music) and Erin Benjamin (president/CEO, Canadian Live Music Association).