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Canada: Racism is not up for debate
Content warning: This message includes references to racism and police violence
For decades, Black individuals and communities have been speaking out about how they experience policing in Canada — including surveillance, unjust encounters with police officers due to practices like carding and racial profiling, and a system which treats Black people more harshly for the same crimes, resulting in a disproportionate number of Black people in prisons.
Recent tragic incidents once again underscore the urgent need for fundamental change. Wellness checks – calls for assistance from either individuals or concerned relatives – particularly for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour have ended in excessive use of force or even death.
People who call 911 for help should not worry they will end up facing enforcement measures or be shot dead by police. It’s time for our leaders to listen: racism is not up for debate – it’s systemic.
In the last few months, there have been several examples of violence against Black, Indigenous and People of Colour by police departments and the RCMP in various parts of the country, after the individuals or their loved ones called for help.
In April, 26-year-old D’Andre Campbell was shot in his home by Peel police officers. In May, 29-year-old Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who is Black and Indigenous, plummeted to her death from the 24th floor of her apartment building after municipal police officers entered her residence in Toronto. In June, 62-year-old Ejaz Ahmed Choudry was shot and killed by police in Mississauga. 26-year-old Chantel Moore, an Indigenous woman originally from BC, was shot dead by Edmundston Police in New Brunswick.
These are not the only interactions in recent months that have resulted in deaths, and they are not isolated incidents.
In 2018, The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s interim report on anti-Black racism in policing stated thatBlack people in Toronto are up to 20 times more likely to be shot dead by police than white people. According to a Vancouver Police Board study, Indigenous and Black people are significantly over-represented in street checks conducted by the Vancouver Police Department. Numerous other reports point to the same stark, disgraceful reality across Canada.
Communities have told officials what they need, and it isn’t more enforcement. It’s time to act on what Black, Indigenous and People of Colour have been working tirelessly to expose for years: we cannot wait any longer to address systemic racism in policing across the country.
Governments and police agencies in Canada have consistently failed to implement the shamefully long list of recommendations to address anti-Black racism in Canada – from numerous UN human rights reviews and comprehensive reports by independent bodies and experts in Canada.
The time for action is long overdue. Thank you for sending a message to your Premier in solidarity with frontline groups and activists in communities across the country who work courageously to expose systemic racism. Thank you for demanding justice for the growing number of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour who have been wrongly arrested, mistreated or killed by police across Canada, and pressing for real change.
Yours in solidarity,
Amnesty International Canada
P.S. Systemic anti-Black racism is not in any way new or recent. It long predates Canadian confederation and has been a stark and disgraceful reality in this country throughout the 153 years since. Please help end systemic anti-Black racism in Canada by calling on your Premier to support new, transformative approaches to upholding public safety.
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