Quebec taking steps to combat systemic racism
The Quebec government is moving ahead with its plan to battle systemic racism in the province by holding public consultations later this year.
With the Quebec Human Rights Commission at the helm, there will be several ways for Quebecers to participate including a website (not yet launched) and public meetings held throughout Quebec in September and October.
The government will ask 15 to 20 non-profit organizations to submit proposals to present witnesses to discuss the acts of racism they have experienced, but individuals are also invited to present.
Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil said that in September the government will also create four working groups to examine different areas where people encounter discrimination and racism, including employment, housing and social services, and law enforcement.
“It’s an open exercise, a democratic exercise, a useful, necessary exercise,” said Weil, adding that the data shows there is still a lot of work to do before there is equality for all Quebecers.
In particular Weil pointed out that business owners need to employ more immigrants, and that visible minorities, women, and youth are not well represented in leadership roles.
“I’ve just heard too many people, very qualified, coming from Africa notably, French Africa, so qualified, impeccable French, they'd worked in Belgium or France, but when they came here they found it difficult to integrate into the job market,” said Weil.
Emilie Nicolas of Quebec Inclusif was very glad to hear about the timeline for the commission into system racism.
“It took a while to get there but it's a step in the right direction,” she said.
She began calling for this type of investigating last year, and said are many reasons why it's important to act now.
"There was concern across different communities, racial profiling, there was a black man that had been killed by the SPVM again in Montreal, you had a lot of issues around Islamophobia. It was at the time as well of all the scandals with indigenous women in Val d'Or and the relationship with the SQ. So you had issues across different communities not just in Montreal but province-wide," said Nicolas.
Rupinder Singh of Sikh Vision Montreal said he hopes the commission will bring positive change.
“We are on a good route because a lot of people have just policies, not implementation. So this is good time to implement these things, so we can reach our goals,” he said.
Nicolas said she worries the recommendations won’t go anywhere.
“A lot of the cynicism we've seen around this campaign is because when you have report, the report doesn't go anywhere,” she said.
The Quebec Human Rights Commission will give its findings to the province in February 2018.
“The goal is for people to be listened to and to hear their voice,” said Tamara Hermitus, president of the Quebec Human Rights Commission.
The province is then expected to create an action plan soon afterwards.