Walking the Talk: It’s time for all of us to address systemic racism and discrimination — inside and out

June 26, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission releases the following statement:

The events of recent weeks have shone a powerful light on the need for all Canadians to reflect on how white privilege, deeply embedded systemic racism, and unchecked racial biases continue to exist in Canada, and contribute to injustice and inequality.

No one is immune to these challenges, including the Canadian Human Rights Commission. While the Commission has a high overall representation of racialized employees, there is still work to do at our management and executive levels.

Over the past 18 months, we have embarked on a self-improvement journey to examine how racism can manifest itself within our organization and how it influences our daily work and the services we provide to Canadians.

As part of this process, Commission staff have participated in extensive training and education sessions on unconscious bias, and the historical roots of racism and religious intolerance in Canada. This training involved difficult conversations where staff were challenged to identify and discuss their own conscious and unconscious biases, and to understand how it affects perspective, behaviour and decision-making.

We established a Race Pilot Project to ensure greater scrutiny of complaints that allege discrimination based on race, colour or national or ethnic origin.

We have hosted important roundtable discussions with stakeholders who represent racialized groups to hear their recommendations for how to improve the Commission’s complaint processes and operations more generally.

Today, the Commission is announcing the next steps in this process. The Commission is committing to:

  • Sharing publicly all reports related to the stakeholder consultations with racialized Canadians, once translated and made accessible.
  • Appointing a senior Commission official to lead and oversee the implementation of an action plan based on the recommendations from the roundtable and other consultations with stakeholders.
  • Engaging an external facilitator to meet with racialized and Indigenous employees to gain their perspectives and views on institutional and structural barriers that may exist within the Commission with a view to instituting anti-racism organizational change.
  • Conducting an independent employment equity audit to evaluate the Commission’s hiring, promotion and retention of Black Canadians and other racialized people, Indigenous people, and persons with disabilities at all groups and levels, using a GBA+ lens.

Racism in Canada is a structure, not an event. It continues to deny far too many Black, Indigenous and other racialized Canadians a life free from discrimination. Governments, Canadians, and every organization, including the Commission, must acknowledge the existence of systemic racism and discrimination and continuously work to dismantle it. It’s time to walk the talk.

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