Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Over Thanksgiving, Canadians will reflect on the opportunities many of us are privileged to enjoy. But in this far-from-typical year, Thanksgiving weekend will be a time in which many will pause, look within and consider our country’s history of discrimination against racialized communities.

Canada’s Black communities have been marginalized going all the way back to the late 18th Century. And today, it has become clear that COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting Black Canadians. In two of the country’s biggest cities – Toronto and Montreal – Black communities have the highest number of novel coronavirus infections. According to Toronto Public Health numbers released during the summer, Black people had 21 per cent of the city’s COVID-19 cases, the highest share of any ethnographic-racial group.

Ongoing racial injustices underpin the urgent need to create greater opportunities for every Black Canadian. I believe we can move the needle in a positive direction.

Story continues below advertisement

That’s why I recently helped launch the Black Opportunity Fund, an organization comprised of professionals from the Black community that aims to attract investment in Black-controlled companies and organizations in Canada as a foundational way to combat anti-Black racism. The fund will facilitate access to long-term, strategic investments to bring about lasting change.

Looking at the big picture, I believe the new initiative will catalyze the cultural, economic and political growth required to enable Canada’s institutions, governments and businesses to embrace greater diversity at all levels. It’s also important to recognize the many Black community organizations that continue to do important work. We will support their efforts as they build scale and capacity to enact change at the grassroots level.

The Black Opportunity Fund focuses on five core areas where Black people continue to experience systemic racism – health care, education, business, justice and politics – and urges the government of Canada to develop a national response for dismantling deeply entrenched racism.

The pandemic has laid bare the inequities of our health care system. In education, Black students do not have equal opportunities for academic success. A recent government of Ontario report found that a disproportionate number are being streamed into applied-level courses, and that post-graduation opportunities are limited for students enrolled in these programs.

In terms of employment, Statistics Canada has found that in the hiring process, 13 per cent of Black Canadians were discriminated against, compared with 6 per cent of their non-Black visible-minority counterparts. Additionally, young Black men were twice as likely as non-Black men to face unemployment, and not be placed in an education or training program.

In the corporate world, inequity runs rampant, and the excellence and competency of Black professionals is consistently overlooked. The fund is seeking to partner with banks and other financial institutions to co-invest in Black-owned businesses in a more effective way to create economic empowerment.

When it comes to the basic human right of access to justice, a disproportionate number of Black citizens are targeted by law enforcement. We continue to be under-represented in the political realm, with only five federally elected Black representatives currently serving in Parliament.

Story continues below advertisement

Despite under-representation in so many integral facets of Canadian life, the Black community makes important contributions – right across the board. In short, we matter. So, this Thanksgiving, let’s acknowledge the talent and richness of Black communities across Canada. There is hope on the horizon for racial equality.

But tackling racism with such an entrenched history will require structural, fundamental grassroots action that’s sustainable over the long term. Recent events have underscored a glaring, urgent need to bring about lasting change – and realize the opportunities we can use to build a more inclusive nation we can all be proud of.

I believe the Black Opportunity Fund will do just that. I am thankful to work with such talented individuals on the steering committee, who share a bold vision for driving us forward as a nation. We’ve gone a long way in a short period of time. And we’re just getting started.

Ray Williams is co-founder of the Black Opportunity Fund and a vice-chairman at National Bank Financial.

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies