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Canada in the face of racism

Having black skin is it easier to live in Canada than in the United States ? Land of hospitality, the country has yet of discrimination towards people of colour

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Canada in the face of racism

Having black skin is it easier to live in Canada than in the United States ? Land of hospitality, the country has yet of discrimination towards people of colour.

for almost three weeks, Canada lives daily with the images of demonstrations and violence caused in the United States by the death of George Floyd, this man of afro-american deliberately asphyxiated by a white policeman during an arrest in Minneapolis on may 25. The country of the Charter of rights and freedoms is first reassured by saying that "it doesn't happen here".

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Before many stories and many thoughts come to remind Canadians that racism, like a virus, doesn't stop at south of the border. As well as wrote the quebec writer of haitian origin, Dany Laferrière, member of the French Academy, in a very beautiful text that I invite you to read, published by our colleagues in Obs.

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of Course, Canada, a country open to immigration and supporter of multiculturalism, may be advantageously compared in the United States : the relations between the different ethnic communities are relatively peaceful, the protests rarely turn to the riot. From 2005 to 2010, this is a woman born in Haiti, Michaëlle Jean, who has held the prestigious position of governor general of Canada, that is to say representative of the Queen.

It's weird. The federal Prime minister Justin Trudeau has himself recognized : "The racism against Blacks, discrimination, systemic injustice - it also exists in us." His long silence in a press conference, after a reporter asked him about Trump threatening to deploy the army against the protesters, went around the world : we found the Trudeau of the greatest moments, communicating without peer, capable of both pitch and compassion. On 5 June, he joined a demonstration against racism in Ottawa, and has asked several times that the knee, including during 8 minutes 46 seconds, the time that lasted the ordeal of George Floyd, the neck crushed under the knee of the police officer Derek Chauvin.

on the contrary, the Premier of Quebec, François Legault has seemed to eliminate the problem, considering that it concerned only a very small minority of people : "I believe that there is discrimination in Quebec. But there is no systemic discrimination", he said.

Still, having the skin black in Canada is not trivial. Immigrants, whether they come from Haiti, France, or Africa, know something.

Rima Elkouri, columnist in The Press, recalled the June 2 : the incarceration rate of African Canadians in federal prisons is three times higher than their demographic weight - a ratio comparable to that observed in the United States or Great Britain. According to an article published in policy Options in march 2019, the unemployment rate of black communities in Canada is around 12 %, while the general average is 5% among non-Black (pre-crisis figures of the Covid-19). Blacks represent 3.5% of the canadian population, but they are only five members in the House of Commons after the general elections of October 2019 and the federal government has only one personality, color black, Ahmed Hussen, the minister for the Family (he had previously been minister of Immigration).

in Montreal, the black people of 25 to 34 years old were five times more likely to be questioned by the police than white individuals of the same age, according to a recent report on the systemic discrimination at the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM). Police controls but also access to housing, employment, access to health care : the numbers speak for themselves. Discrimination against people of color are a reality in Canada.

The quebec press has echoed the testimonials speak for themselves. In Urbania, Naomi Hilaire parttage the "story of a life to undergo ordinary racism". For his part, the artist Gregory Charles has published on his page Facebook a text that has rapidly become viral, in which he recounts his experiences, his fears and his response to the anger, inevitable, people of color black.

note that, since 2013, Africa represents the second largest source of immigration to Canada, after Asia. Francophones from the african continent constitute a population prized by Quebec and by some of the anglophone provinces who want to slow down the decline of the French.

thousands of Canadians have expressed the last weekend in several major cities of the country against racism and police violence. Pressed to react, the Prime minister of québec has undertaken consultations and promised an action plan. He finally recognized that the "under-representation" of minorities, particularly visible and ethnic, within the State of quebec, was a "problem". For his part, Justin Trudeau has not excluded the use of cameras and equipment to monitor the actions of the police.

The subject is actually a lot more sensitive than you might think in Canada. Because the discussion quickly expanded to the entire situation in the nation's visible minorities, including aboriginal peoples, especially victims of discrimination. And there, as in the United States with black population, it refers Canadians to their history, and their behaviour of people colonizer, as well as their powerful neighbor to the south.

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A painful reality.

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