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
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
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(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),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); }

Michael Adams is the president of the Environics Institute. Marva Wisdom is a professional facilitator, director of community engagement and outreach for the Black Experience Project and a senior fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.

The anguish and confrontations spreading across the United States in response to the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer have captured the attention of news audiences in that country and around the world. We are transfixed by images of shocking police brutality and the widespread community resistance they have inspired.

But Canadians should challenge themselves to look past the deeply disturbing American news clips and reflect on the situation here at home, including the recent death in Toronto of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29 year-old Black woman. If we do, we will learn there is no room for complacency in this country.

Story continues below advertisement

When we look in the mirror, we see a society in which Black people are regularly treated unfairly because of their race. The Black Experience Project, which focused on the Greater Toronto Area, found that two-thirds of the region’s Black residents report being treated unfairly on a continuing basis. The forms that this treatment takes are specific, varied and tragic.

Personal experience with police

in community

For people who self-identify as Black or of African

heritage in the GTA

Have you ever had an experience of …?

Total

Men, aged 25 to 44

Getting stopped in public

places by police

55%

80%

Socializing with police at social,

cultural or official functions

53

63

44

Being helped by the police

42

42

Requiring police assistance

36

Being harassed or treated

rudely by police

38

64

36

Being interviewed by police as

a witness to an incident

42

18

Police not responding promptly

when you need them

26

15

Being arrested

35

11

Police using force against you

24

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:

Environics Institute, The Black Experience in

the Greater Toronto Area (2017)

Personal experience with police

in community

For people who self-identify as Black or of African

heritage in the GTA

Have you ever had an experience of …?

Total

Men, aged 25 to 44

Getting stopped in public

places by police

55%

80%

Socializing with police at social,

cultural or official functions

53

63

44

Being helped by the police

42

42

Requiring police assistance

36

Being harassed or treated

rudely by police

38

64

36

Being interviewed by police as

a witness to an incident

42

18

Police not responding promptly

when you need them

26

15

Being arrested

35

11

Police using force against you

24

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:Environics

Institute, The Black Experience in the Greater Toronto

Area (2017)

Personal experience with police in community

For people who self-identify as Black or of African heritage in the GTA

Have you ever had an experience of …?

Total

Men, aged 25 to 44

Getting stopped in public

places by police

55%

80%

Socializing with police at social,

cultural or official functions

53

63

44

Being helped by the police

42

42

Requiring police assistance

36

Being harassed or treated

rudely by police

38

64

Being interviewed by police as

a witness to an incident

36

42

18

Police not responding promptly

when you need them

26

15

Being arrested

35

11

Police using force against you

24

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

SOURCE: Environics Institute, The Black Experience in the Greater Toronto Area (2017)

Three in five young Black men say they are frequently or occasionally accused of something or treated suspiciously because of their race, and a similar proportion report being observed or followed while in public places. Three in four say that others frequently or occasionally are afraid of them or intimidated because of their race.

In the case of young Black women, more than 60 per cent say that others frequently or occasionally expect their work to be inferior because of their race, and that they are treated rudely or disrespectfully because of the colour of their skin.

When it comes to dealings with police – the focal point for the current wave of protests – things only get worse. One in two Black Torontonians and a staggering 80 per cent of Black men between the ages of 25 and 44 report that they have been stopped in a public place by the police. Two in five Black Torontonians and two in three Black men between 25 and 44 say they have been harassed or treated rudely by police.

In short, this unique survey research shows that Black youth in Canada’s largest city are growing up being observed, questioned, dismissed and belittled by their fellow citizens because of their race, and are routinely harassed by the very public institution that we should turn to for protection.

Yes Canada – we, too, have an anti-Black racism problem.

Racism doesn’t stop there. The recent Race Relations in Canada Survey found that Indigenous peoples in Canada are just as likely as Black people to experience unfair treatment because of their race. South Asian and Chinese Canadians also experience racism; fewer than one in five say this never happens to them.

Story continues below advertisement

If there is any good news to hold onto in these bleak times, it is that, on the whole, Canadians are not in denial about this reality. Three-quarters of white Canadians recognize that Black people in this country are either frequently or occasionally the subject of discrimination in Canadian society. Just a handful (3 per cent) said this never happens.

Yet this general recognition of the problem carries us only so far. Three in 10 non-Indigenous Canadians disagree with the statement that it is easy to understand the anger of Indigenous peoples, as do 39 per cent of non-Black people in the case of the anger of Black Canadians. Somehow, a significant number of Canadians seem to expect that people who experience racism should not get too upset about it.

That ship has sailed.

Personal experience with

discrimination due to race

By racial group responding, per cent

Regularly

From time

to time

Very

rarely

Cannot

say

Never

2

10

28

55

5

White

3

33

42

17

5

Chinese

5

33

38

20

5

S. Asian

Indig.

17

36

26

18

2

10

44

31

8

6

Black

3

29

43

19

6

Other

Some figures due not total 100 due to rounding

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:

Environics Institute, Race Relations in

Canada 2019 Survey

Personal experience with discrimination

due to race

By racial group responding, per cent

Regularly

From time

to time

Very

rarely

Cannot

say

Never

2

10

28

55

5

White

3

33

42

17

5

Chinese

5

33

38

20

5

S. Asian

Indigenous

17

36

26

18

2

10

44

31

8

6

Black

3

29

43

19

6

Other

Some figures due not total 100 due to rounding

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: Environics

Institute, Race Relations in Canada 2019 Survey

Personal experience with discrimination due to race

By racial group responding, per cent

Regularly

From time

to time

Very

rarely

Never

Cannot

say

2

10

28

55

5

White

3

33

42

17

5

Chinese

5

33

38

20

5

South Asian

Indigenous

17

36

26

18

2

10

44

31

8

6

Black

3

29

43

19

6

Other

Some figures due not total 100 due to rounding

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: Environics Institute,

Race Relations in Canada 2019 Survey

Will things change for the better? The survey research provides some grounds for optimism. Canadians from all racial groups are more likely to say that race relations in this country are getting better as opposed to getting worse. And, crucially, personal connections among racial groups in Canada are growing.

The majority of Canadians not only have regular contact with people from other races, but contact that is overwhelming described as friendly. These friendships can only deepen our understanding of each other’s experiences.

Most strikingly, six in 10 Canadians are optimistic there will be racial equality in Canada in their lifetime; just one in four are pessimistic. Pessimism, at 30 per cent, is higher for Black Canadians, but is not the majority view. When we ask non-white Canadians whether the next generation will experience more racism than today or less, they are much more likely to anticipate that racism will diminish.

Story continues below advertisement

These results were collected before George Floyd was killed. The optimism that shone a few months ago may well have diminished in recent days. It will not be rekindled by congratulating ourselves for doing better than our American cousins. The determination to do better needs to be reborn and sustained by our own actions to confront and eliminate racism in Canada, not just by institutions and authorities such as the police, but by each and every one of us.

Keep your Opinions sharp and informed. Get the Opinion newsletter. Sign up today.

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 feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

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 letters@globeandmail.com. 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 letters@globeandmail.com. 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

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

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