Addressing institutional racism in Canada


“Canada, let’s talk about racism” is a statement that, a month ago, would have been met with indifference, disinterest and comments like “racism isn’t a problem in Canada.” But most racialized Canadians—having faced explicit and often implicit racism—would have responded differently.

Now that we are witnessing the outcomes of unchecked racism, Canada, can we talk about racism?

The response of the federal government to the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated its ability to act quickly. Well, in the last week we have demonstrated the need to address racism in the streets of Canada.

The federal government’s promise to take action is appreciated. Prime Minister Trudeau kneeling with Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters is appreciated. But much like the scars of Black people must be seen before it is acknowledged that we have been hurt, federal policy and political action must be taken before we can be satisfied.

If the killing of George Floyd has taught us anything, it is that the cries of injustice from Black and other racialized people aren’t enough to produce change. A Canadian response must simultaneously recognize the continued harm caused to Indigenous people in Canada, while acknowledging the need to better respond to racism against Black and racialized communities.

The Alberta government must also respond to the protests and the calls for change that have recently permeated the streets of Calgary and Edmonton.