Anti-racism work

Over the last five years, we have taken bold action to “walk the talk” of effecting and influencing systemic anti-racist change as an employer, a regulator, and as Canada’s national human rights institution.

Here is a timeline of our actions to date. This work remains ongoing and is a permanent facet of our organization.


  • Under the leadership of then Chief Commissioner Marie-Claude Landry, we began taking a close look at how systemic racism can manifest itself within our organization, and how it might be influencing our daily work and the services we provide to people in Canada.
  • We took steps to change how we review cases so that we give greater care and scrutiny to complaints that alleged discrimination based on race, colour or national or ethnic origin.


  • We called on Canada’s newly elected Government to confront and address systemic racism in Canada.
  • We provided training to staff and our commissioners on how to recognize and correct unconscious and implicit bias in our thinking and our actions, facilitated by Dr. Rachel Zellars and McGill University’s Kira Page.
  • Human Rights Officers were taught specific techniques to identify the “subtle scent” of racism, which is often more difficult to present evidence for, compared for example, to complaints related to disability.


  • January: We commissioned Mark Hart to write a comprehensive report that has served as a foundational resource to inform improvements to our complaints processes as they relate specifically to race-based complaints.
  • We then had Mark Hart develop and deliver multiple training sessions based on his report, “Strengthening the Commission’s handling of Race-based Cases.”
  • March: We met with racialized experts from across Canada to hear their views on how the Commission can improve its processes for people filing race-based complaints. A comprehensive summary of the dialogue session can be found on our website: Canadian Human Rights Commission Dialogue Session with Representatives from Racialized Communities on Advancing Racial Equality in Canada.
  • We worked with an external facilitator to create a safe and confidential forum for Indigenous, Black and racialized employees to share their experiences at the Commission.
  • We launched a project to retroactively collect disaggregated race-based data from past complainants, and capture disaggregated race-based data for all new complaints. We continue to work to improve our approach to analyzing these data.
  • September: We appointed a senior Commission official to lead and oversee the development of an action plan based on the recommendations from the roundtable and other consultations with stakeholders.
  • October: The Association of Justice Counsel (AJC), the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), and the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) filed policy grievances against the Commission, related to hiring and promotional practices.


  • January: We published the first draft of an Anti-Racism Action Plan.
  • We hired an independent third-party auditor to conduct an audit of the representation of the four groups designated under the Employment Equity Act, specifically Indigenous peoples, racialized people, people with disabilities, and women. It found that the Commission continues to have a strong representation of members from the four designated groups when compared to the availability in the Canadian workforce.
  • We have contracted a dedicated trauma-informed counsellor to offer additional support to employees who feel they have experienced the effects of racism.
  • We invested in additional training for Commission staff responsible for assessing complaints, as well as supporting legal and policy advisors. The training was comprehensive and covered topics such as conscious and unconscious/implicit bias, systemic racism, and more specifically:
    • January continued training sessions by Mark Hart, author of our 2020 commissioned report, “Strengthening the Commission’s handling of Race-based Cases.”
    • March 8, 2021, training: Understanding Racial Trauma.
    • March 2021 training: “The Four Pillars of Trauma” course, delivered by Myrna McCallum to the Commission’s complaints services staff and all our human rights officers.
    • Summer-Fall 2021: “Avoiding Harm when Discussing Racism,” by former Commissioner Edith Bramwell.
  • We submitted “Walking the Talk: An Open Letter on the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s implementation of the Clerk’s Call to Action on Anti-racism, Equity and Inclusion.
  • Following input from employees and the unions that represent them, as well as stakeholders and expert consultants, we published our revised Anti-Racism Action Plan.
  • We established the Decolonization and Anti-Racism Consultation Committee comprising a diverse team of Commission employees who, among several other responsibilities and functions, provide the perspectives of people with lived experience with racism to inform the evolution of the Commission’s work.


  • We continued to embed the various actions outlined in our 2021 Anti-Racism Action Plan across all our roles — an employer, service provider, as a regulator and as Canada’s national human rights institution.
  • We published our second comprehensive Anti-Racism Action Plan Progress Report. It details how we are advancing anti-racism, equity and inclusion across our various roles. The report provides an update on the specific actions we have taken, the results we have achieved, and the next steps we will pursue to maintain our momentum.
  • We continued to make systemic improvements to our workplace —from strengthening our complaints screening process to improving access to justice for Indigenous, Black and other racialized people across Canada. We have engaged with stakeholders, including members of our Network for Advancing Racial Equality, to inform continued improvements to our work.
  • We have completed 17.5% (7) of the actions outlined in our Anti-Racism Action Plan, while 52.5% (21) are in progress. The remaining 30% (12) of our actions have been integrated into our way of working.

    November: Following our internal employment equity audit, the Commission also engaged a qualified, racialized consultant with expertise in the field of anti-racism, equity and diversity in the federal public sector, to conduct an Employment Systems Review. The final report is available on the Commission’s website.


  • The Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) rendered decisions in relation to the policy grievances filed against us in 2020. OCHRO found that the Commission breached the ‘no-discrimination’ clauses of the respective collective agreements. OCHRO did not make any factual findings and found that there was no violation of the other clauses invoked, which included ‘managerial responsibilities’, ‘health and safety’, ‘career development’, ‘pay administration’ and ‘statement of duties’. OCHRO did not order any remedies and acknowledged that the Commission has already taken proactive steps to address these matters and that, by its very nature, this work will take time.
  • We fully accept the OCHRO decisions and believe the lived experiences of those who have experienced discrimination is what matters most. We remain open to working with the unions to address any outstanding issues and we remain deeply committed to our ongoing, evolving work to bringing about meaningful and measurable action to address systemic racism and discrimination.



Listening, Learning, Research

Speaking out - Past years
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This is why we are eager to cultivate new relationships and nurture existing ones by striking a network for advancing racial equality. This network will be national in scope, and will include intersectional and culturally diverse representation. It will create a forum for ongoing dialogue and engagement with the Commission about grassroots experiences of racialized people from stakeholders, advocacy organizations and individuals that have their fingers on the pulse of these communities.

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