With the provincial government drastically scaling back its investigation into system racism in Quebec, community groups are stepping forward to launch their own inquiry.
Systemic racism is the practice wherein people discriminate--sometimes unwittingly--against those who do not share their own ethnic and cultural background in a myriad of ways, such as deciding who to hire.
With the government deciding not to examine the issue, on Tuesday a coalition of 46 groups announced how it will its own public consultation into the matter.
They said the government's one-day forum was "unacceptable" and "sad."
The groups explained how they plan to hear from people who have been the victims of discrimination such as being mistreated by police forces or healthcare institutions in what they are calling the Table of Dialogue against Systemic Racism.
The Quebec Human Rights Commission was originally going to look at this issue but came under intense criticism, mostly by opposition politicians saying it implied that all Quebecers were overtly racist.
Haroun Bouazzi of AMAL Quebec said those critics fundamentally misunderstood the issue and said the goal was never to accuse individuals.
"We don't care if people are racist. What we care about is the fact that the parliament today, if we talk about political institutions, is almost entirely white," said Bouazzi.
"What we care about is public institutions or private institutions, the second you go a bit higher in the hierarchy, everyone is white."
He said it's known that immigrants and members of visible minorities face higher unemployment, and the government should be working to change that.
"What we are doing today is for our kids, for the next generations," said Bouazzi.
In October the provincial Liberals decided that it would no longer look at systemic racism and instead Immigration Minister David Heurtel would hold a short consultation on how newcomers integrate into Quebec society.
The government forum took place Tuesday in Quebec City, with round table discussions about employment, discrimination, and the French language.
Municipal and provincial representatives took part, as did some community groups, but very few immigrants were in attendance. The overwhelming majority of the participants were white francophones.