Every February, we honour Black History Month by reflecting on the contributions made and the challenges faced by Black Canadians throughout history.
More than 1.2 million Canadians self-identify as Black, in a country where racism too often remains a reality and an insidious obstacle in our workplaces and our communities. In fact, a recent survey reported that the majority of Canadians who are Black (54%) have personally experienced discrimination due to race or ethnicity.
It is clear that Canada continues to have a racism problem, and that it will take each and every one of us to challenge and end this problem.
Racism is far more than an individual problem. It is systemic, with deep historical roots. Just one example is Africville – a Black community along the Bedford Basin near Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a home for centuries to hundreds of Black Canadian families. This neighbourhood was dismantled in the 1960s, and its residents were forced to relocate, in the name of “urban renewal.” 2020 marks ten years since a formal apology was made by the Halifax Regional Council to the displaced families of Africville.
Along with acknowledging past injustice, we must also advance and take positive action, because the evidence shows that equity-seeking groups, including racialized people, continue to face more barriers to accessing jobs, obtaining gender and economic parity, and receiving equitable services in society than white Canadians.
This Black History Month, let us recommit with unity and solidarity to challenge racism each and every day, and to dismantle the social and systemic barriers that stand in the way of full equality and inclusion.
Paul R. Meinema
To find out more about UFCW Canada’s anti-oppression work, visit our union’s Human Rights, Equity, and Diversity webpage.