‘Enough is enough’: Black civil servants vow to press on with discrimination suit as Liberals promise change

Update on the proposed class-action lawsuit:

Carol Sip spent three decades inside the federal public service, but her retirement plaque is the last thing she wants to see on her wall.

Instead it sits stored away in the original packaging.

“Why would I hang it up? It will only bring back awful memories,” Sip said. “It should be something that you should be proud of, but I’m not proud of it because I know what I went through.”

Sip is one of a group Black federal employees involved in a proposed class-action lawsuit launched last December against the federal government alleging years of discrimination and seeking some $2.5 billion in damages.

Earlier this year, federal employee Monica Agard broke her silence about being Black in the public service after a senior colleague at the Immigration and Refugee Board’s Toronto office allegedly praised “the good old days when we had slaves.”

Since then, the proposed class-action lawsuit has become one step closer to reality after a motion was filed for it to be certified. It will fall to the newly elected government to decide whether to challenge that.

But as Canadians head to the polls, the Liberals appear to be changing course on the issue with a policy plank promising support for Black workers.

Liberals now promise support for Black workers

The federal government had maintained that its workers could find help through the employee assistance and health-care programs, which the plaintiffs have long said fail to address the specific trauma of anti-Black racism.

Now, if elected, the Liberal Party says in its platform it will “establish a mental health fund for Black public servants, and support career advancement, training, sponsorship, and educational opportunities for Black workers.”

Party spokesperson Alex Wellstead wouldn’t explicitly say if a Liberal government would support certifying the class action to go forward, but acknowledged “Black Canadians face unique challenges when it comes to mental health in the workplace.

“That is why we’ve committed through our platform to work with community partners on the design and establishment of this fund, which directly responds to calls from Black employees in the public service and will ensure that Black public servants are supported.”

As the employer of the federal public service, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat said the courts have not set a timetable for next steps on certifying the suit and that at this stage, it would be “premature” to comment.

Lawyer Hugh Scher, who’s assisting with the suit, hopes whichever party forms government will work with Black civil servants to address their needs.

“If they do, then they will have a willing partner,” he said. “If they don’t, they they will have a worthy adversary in court.”

‘A living nightmare’

Sip’s ordeal began in the early 1980s, shortly after she became an employee at the federal customs department under what is now the Canada Revenue Agency. Over a number of years spent working there, she says she experienced repeated incidents of harassment and discrimination by a supervisor who behaved with impunity.

And she says never in her 26 years was she promoted beyond her clerical position.

“It became a living nightmare,” she told CBC News. Sip filed multiple grievances and won two. But she felt blacklisted for complaining and says nothing was done.

“If they had a project with lifting boxes, only the Black ladies were chosen to lift the boxes,” she recalled.

In the late 90s, Sip was diagnosed with both breast and uterine cancer. She was off work on disability in 1999, when she was told her department was being restructured. Sip says her manager told her to resign. Believing she had no other option, she did.

In a statement, the CRA told CBC News it cannot discuss specific cases but that it is “firmly dedicated to diversity inclusion and anti-racism in the workplace.”

“The CRA has launched, and will launch further, targeted executive staffing processes for visible minorities and Indigenous peoples who are underrepresented at the leadership levels,” the statement said, noting that CRA encourages all employees to come forward if they experience or witness any discrimination or harassment.

As for why she joined the proposed class action, Sip said: “I look at the young children growing up and I don’t want them to go through what I personally went through, or the others have gone through.”

‘It kills you a little bit inside’

It’s been four months since Marcia Banfield Smith left her job at the Department of Justice.

But she says the scars from her time there run deep.

Over the years, she says she endured racist jokes at meetings and watched as non-Black colleagues rose up the ranks. Meanwhile, despite applying for higher-paying roles, she was stuck in a paralegal role at the same pay — for 19 years.

“It kills you a little bit inside,” she said.

Source: ‘Enough is enough’: Black civil servants vow to press on with discrimination suit as Liberals promise change

Return of ‘protected ridings’ sees N.S. riding with full slate of Black candidates

While in general not in favour of “protected riding” or deliberate drawing of borders based upon ethnic ancestry or visible minority or other groups, in some cases like this one can be justified to improve representation.

At the federal level, this largely happens more or less organically for the larger groups given settlement patterns:

In the provincial riding of Preston, just east of Halifax, a historic political race is underway.

“One of the things that’s really important, and I think so many people are talking about, is the fact that all three of us are local in particular and African Nova Scotian,” Liberal candidate Angela Simmonds said of the candidates facing off to represent the riding.

Simmonds, along with NDP candidate Colter Simmonds and Progressive Conservative candidate Archy Beals, make up the slate for the largely African Nova Scotian riding in the Aug. 17 general election. It’s believed to be the first time in the province’s history an electoral district has all Black candidates.

It’s thanks in part to the reinstatement two years ago of Preston, along with three largely Acadian ridings — Argyle, Clare and Richmond. In 2019, the Liberal government introduced legislation to bring back the so-called protected ridings after the previous NDP government did away with them in 2012, saying there were too few voters in them.

With the reinstatement, the province once again has 55 ridings, up from 51 in the last election.

Other provinces have ridings of varying sizes, typically to ensure rural voters are well represented. But Nova Scotia’s protected ridings are unique for the fact that they shield so-called “historical minorities” from redistribution, said James Bickerton, a political science professor at St. Francis Xavier University.

The ridings were initially formed in the 1990s to ensure effective representation of Acadian and African Nova Scotian voters and to protect them from electoral redistribution, “which would dilute the populations considerably to the point where minorities would no longer be the majority within the constituency,” Bickerton said.

He was on the electoral boundaries commission that concluded in 2012 that the ridings should remain. But he said the commission was threatened by then-attorney general Ross Landry, who claimed the recommendation did not respect the commission’s terms of reference.

The movement to reinstate the special districts followed a court victory by the Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia. The province’s Appeal Court ruled that the redrawn map violated democratic rights guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Effective representation was at play … the argument being that Francophones and African Nova Scotians could only have effective representation if they had representatives in the legislature from their communities,” Bickerton said. “Protected ridings doesn’t guarantee it, but it certainly makes it much more likely.”

Andrew Griffith, a fellow at the Environics Institute, a public opinion and social research organization, said ridings with large minority populations tend to elect candidates with similar ethnic and cultural backgrounds. He gave the example of Indo-Canadians.

“If you look at a place that has a large Indo-Canadian population, whether immigrants or citizens, the candidates and the MPs tend to come from those communities,” Griffith said. “Having your electoral districts be aligned not only to the overall population balance, but to recognize that some communities may be relatively under-represented because they’re too dispersed across the province or across the country, I think it’s a valid rationale.”

Glenn Graham, a political science professor at St. Francis Xavier University, echoed the sentiment, adding that the goal of the ridings is effective representation, not necessarily absolute voter parity, which is the idea that each vote carries the same weight. Voter parity, however, could also limit the voices of minority voters, he said.

When the latest changes were made in 2019, the four protected ridings had voting populations ranging from 6,451 in Argyle to 10,781 in Preston, well below the provincial average of 14,356 electors per riding.

“With all the major political parties running an African Nova Scotian candidate, it’s a guarantee that there will be an African Nova Scotian representing the area,” Beals said in a recent interview. He added that the area comes with specific cultural issues, including education and business development, of which the candidates have an intimate understanding. “Who best to address them than someone in the community, from the community?” he said.

As for the Acadian ridings, Marie-Claude Rioux, the executive director of the Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia, said in an interview that the change “gives Acadians a better chance to elect someone that will know their needs,” such as French-language health services.

But while the community was glad to see the three Acadian ridings restored, Rioux said the federation plans on fighting for more representation, namely a riding for Cheticamp, an Acadian community in Cape Breton.

Moving toward effective representation, Graham said, is about “having someone that you feel may look like you in the legislature, or is a reflection of your lived experience in the legislature.”

And with the newly reinstated ridings, Angela Simmonds said she now has an opportunity to engage with the constituents of the riding at a more personal level.

“I think when you see someone who looks like you there is an appreciation for one’s lived experiences,” she said.

Source: Return of ‘protected ridings’ sees N.S. riding with full slate of Black candidates

One year after Trudeau took a knee, is his government living up to its anti-racism promises?

Useful review, showing a reasonable yes. The effectiveness, of course, will require some time to assess:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a knee at a Black Lives Matter rally on Parliament Hill over a year ago, after the murder of George Floyd sparked worldwide protests. Some welcomed the action as a commitment to fight anti-Black racism, while others dismissed it as a hollow gesture.

Shortly after that rally, the MPs and senators who make up the Parliamentary Black Caucus issued a letter listing more than 40 calls to action to confront racism. They called on the Trudeau government to go beyond mere “words and symbolic gestures” to tackle the “crisis” Black Canadians face.

“We urge all governments to act immediately. This is not a time for further discussion,” said the letter.

Source: One year after Trudeau took a knee, is his government living up to its anti-racism promises?

Does Canada’s census undercount visible minorities?

A relatively minor issue IMO compared to other priorities given only affects less than 3 percent of Census respondents (but likely to increase over time given mixed unions).

The separate issue of Blacks being counted only as part of visible minorities applies only to the federally regulated sectors (banking, communications, transport) and TBS now provides disaggregated data for visible minorities, Indigenous peoples and Persons with disabilities for the last four years (summaries in the annual employment equity groups, detailed tables on open data – https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/innovation/human-resources-statistics/diversity-inclusion-statistics.html).

And of course, the census data has these breakdowns that allow a wide range of analysis of socioeconomic status and other issues:

Statistics Canada is working to improve how it collects and analyzes data about people who belong to more than one visible minority group, as critics fear the federal agency’s current methodology has led to an “undercount” of racialized populations.

Ever since questions about visible minorities were added to the census in 1996, people belonging to those population groups have been classified in several ways.

At issue are those who check off more than one group out of the listed options: Chinese, South Asian, Black, Arab, West Asian, Filipino, Southeast Asian, Latin American, Japanese and Korean. Those individuals are lumped together in one group — which Statistics Canada calls “multiple visible minorities” — and are not broken down by the pairs or combinations of groups to which they belong.

Someone who checks off Black and Arab, for example, is included in that catch-all category, instead of being counted as part of Canada’s Black or Arab population. In contrast, people who identify as part of a visible minority group and the white population are counted, in most cases, as a member of whichever minority group they endorsed.

In the 2016 census, 232,275 people — or 2.7 per cent of the total visible minority population — were identified as multiple visible minorities.

That’s led some people, like Toronto lawyer Courtney Betty, to question whether the true number of people belonging to specific communities is being counted inaccurately.

“The whole idea of the census is to know how many individuals are within the population of our society, and potentially get a breakdown, so that we can do proper planning as to how we’re going to look at growth and also allocate economic resources,” Betty told the Star. “If you don’t have a proper count, that can’t happen.”

Betty is one of people leading the legal team representing hundreds of current and former Black public servants involved in a proposed class-action lawsuit, which alleges decades of discrimination and harassment within federal departments and agencies.

The multiple visible minorities category is being considered in the context of the lawsuit as part of an argument that the federal government won’t be able to claim that specific racialized communities, like the Black population, are adequately represented in the federal public service if it doesn’t have precise counts of those populations in the first place.

“I think there’s something that has to be adjusted, whether it be on the intake side … or on the analysis side,” Betty said. “Even if it’s a matter of …‘We recognize that there may be 50,000 Blacks that may not have been counted, and therefore, as we’re planning our policy decisions, we’re going to take that number into account.’”

Statistics Canada says it’s an issue the agency is actively studying.

“I know there’s an appetite to have more information,” said Hélène Maheux, a senior analyst with the agency’s diversity and socio-cultural statistics department. “Right now, we are looking at different alternatives, providing more disaggregated information for the multiple visible minority (category) for the 2021 census.”

Part of the problem is that counting a single individual as part of several populations muddies the data. There are also some who would prefer to be identified as a combination of groups instead of being counted as part of separate populations, the Star has previously reported.

But another reason, Maheux says, is that Statistics Canada’s database doesn’t actually allow for more detailed analysis of census data.

“It is not possible to distinguish all the various combinations of the visible minority groups included inside the multiple visible minorities. I had this challenge when I was doing this analysis. I wanted to include them, but it wasn’t possible because the database was not processed in a way that allowed me to make that distinction.”

When the Star asked Statistics Canada to provide, as one example, data on the number of Black people who were included in the multiple visible minority count, the department said the information was not “readily” available. The only way to obtain the data would be through the creation of a “custom tabulation,” which would need to go through a writing, testing and verification process.

Maheux said in the past, analysts have not typically received requests to dig into the category.

“But with the current context, we are receiving more requests. We are looking at avenues to improve our database,” she said.

It’s not just Statistics Canada that knows changes must be made.

On Tuesday, Ottawa launched a 13-member task force set to modernize the Employment Equity Act, which was first introduced in 1986, to improve “the state of equity, diversity and inclusion in federally regulated workplaces.”

Among the issues the task force will examine is whether visible minority groups should be updated, expanded or redefined.

Any changes would directly impact the way Canada’s census poses questions about race; the purpose of asking people to identify with certain population groups is tied to the act, which necessitates collecting information about visible minorities.

Liberal MP Greg Fergus said the work the task force is undertaking is critical to changing how Canada thinks about race. He hopes it will lead to a better snapshot of what’s really happening on the ground.

“For the Black community, it’s very clear that when Blacks are lumped into a visible minority, we actually end up becoming invisible,” Fergus told reporters following the announcement.

Adelle Blackett, a McGill University law professor who chairs the task force, said there have long been warning signs that the way racialized groups are categorized could lead to valuable data being lost.

She cited the 1984 Equality in Employment commission led by Judge Rosalie Abella, who wrote in her final report that combining “all non-whites together as visible minorities … may deflect attention from where the problems are greatest.”

The task force plans to conclude its review and present its recommendations to the federal labour minister in early 2022.

Source: Does Canada’s census undercount visible minorities?

Black Canadians more likely to be hesitant about COVID-19 vaccines, survey suggests

Not just governments but governments do have a role in reducing economic barriers to vaccination (paid time off work etc). Access has become less of an issue given pop-up and other clinics, compared to earlier periods when it was more significant:

Black Canadian leaders say governments must do more to help overcome vaccine hesitancy in their communities.

Toronto orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ato Sekyi-Otu, leader of the health-care task force of the Black Opportunity Fund, says a new survey confirms unpublished public health data that hesitancy is higher among Black Canadians than among white or non-Black racialized people.

“There’s a 20-point gap with respect to the rate of vaccination in Black Canadians compared to the Canadian average,” Sekyi-Otu said in an interview. “When you look at vaccine confidence, unvaccinated Black Canadians are least likely to say that they’ll definitely get the vaccine.”

Sekyi-Otu said the Black Opportunity Fund partnered with the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council and the Innovative Research Group to try to understand why Black Canadians appeared to be getting vaccinated in lower numbers.

The survey found that as of early June, when more than 60 per cent of Canadians had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, 45 per cent of Black Canadians surveyed said they were at least partially vaccinated, compared with 65 per cent of white Canadians and 43 per cent of non-Black visible minorities.

Sixty per cent of Black Canadians surveyed who didn’t have at least one dose expressed some level of hesitancy to get vaccinated, compared with 55 per cent of white Canadians and 44 per cent of non-Black visible minorities.

The figures are in line with vaccination data in Toronto, where the neighbourhoods with the lowest vaccination rates also have some of the largest Black populations.

Dunia Nur, president of the African Canadian Civic Engagement Counsel based in Edmonton, said addressing hesitancy in Black communities will require “a variety of policy shifts” from government that take into consideration language needs, as well as differences in education and socio-economic disparities.

“These include investing in strategies that work with Black-led and Black-focused community organizations to address COVID-19 vaccine knowledge gaps and related trust barriers,” Nur said in a statement.

Black Canadians responding to the survey were less likely to be hesitant about vaccines if they trusted their health-care providers and the vaccine makers, could take paid time off work to get vaccinated, and were confident in where and how to go about getting a shot.

“When we talk about hesitancy, we speak about the ABCs,” said Sekyi-Otu. “I’m talking about access, belief and confidence.”

He said access is affected when Black Canadians are more likely to work in jobs where taking paid time away to be vaccinated is difficult or impossible. Belief in the vaccines can be eroded if you don’t trust the people providing the information about them, and confidence that the vaccines work is harmed when people who are already less trusting of the health-care system get mixed messages about vaccine safety and effectiveness.

“It’s not surprising that if someone has a bad experience with one institution, for example, criminal justice, when he or she is 19 years old, he or she may not want to take the vaccine in 2021 when he or she is 45 years old,” he said.

Sekyi-Oto says governments need to ensure that people can take time off work to be vaccinated and take immediate steps to provide culturally sensitive and appropriate delivery and education about vaccines in Black communities.

“You have to build a system where the people who are leading the system look like the people using the system,” he said. “And so we want to create a culturally sensitive system, engage with the community so that they can come up and take the vaccine.”

The survey is being released as the Public Health Agency of Canada reports new data showing COVID-19 death rates in the first eight months of the pandemic were highest in communities with lower incomes and higher visible minority populations.

The data is the latest report from the agency that outlines the inequities surrounding COVID-19 in Canada.

Source: Black Canadians more likely to be hesitant about COVID-19 vaccines, survey suggests

Why doctors want Canada to collect better data on Black maternal health

Need this for many groups:

A growing body of data about the heightened risks faced by Black women in the U.K. and U.S. during pregnancy has highlighted the failings of Canada’s colour-blind approach to health care, according to Black health professionals and patients.

Black women in the U.K. and U.S. are four times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than white women, according to official data. A recent U.K. study published in The Lancet found that Black women’s risk of miscarriage is 40 per cent higher than white women’s. In Canada, that level of demographic tracking isn’t available.

“For our country, we don’t have that data. So it’s difficult to know exactly what we’re dealing with,” said Dr. Modupe Tunde-Byass, a Toronto obstetrician-gynecologist, and president of Black Physicians of Canada. “We can only extrapolate from other countries.”

Source: Why doctors want Canada to collect better data on Black maternal health

Canada does not have a Juneteenth celebration — and we don’t need one

Good reminder of the differences between Canada and the USA:

After the murder of George Floyd was captured and shared around the world last summer, many white communities found themselves thrust into what can best be defined as the Great White Awakening.

Prior to the killing of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many other Black victims also lost their lives to state-sponsored violence in 2020. But the eight-minute-and-46-second video of Floyd’s demise became the catalyst for a deluge of corporate and political anti-racism declarations.

The actual follow-through on those declarations has been largely inconsistent, but organizations and governments alike are still trying to find ways to appeal to the Black community. In North America, one publicized aspect of the outreach has been the institution of federal holidays to commemorate important dates in national (Black) history.

Source: Canada does not have a Juneteenth celebration — and we don’t need one

Action needed to end anti-Black racism in public service: advocates

As you may recall, I have analysed both the overall numbers (What new disaggregated data tells us about federal public service …) and the hiring and promotions data (Diversity and inclusion: public service hirings, promotions and separations) which show that:
 
“Black Canadians are the visible minority group with the strongest numbers in the public service compared to their share of the citizen population, but their representation is overwhelmingly in the two administrative categories. This is not unique – there is significant under-representation among Latin American, Chinese, Filipino and South East Asian groups in the executive ranks of the public service. A similar general pattern can be found with Indigenous public service representation.”
 
Striking how the advocates do not appear to be aware of the availability of this data (its posted on open data).
 
Even stranger is PSAC not acknowledging that disaggregated data exists as they surely should know that it does (“He said the current data collected by the government only allow people to self-identify as visible minorities, so it’s not clear how many Black employees are working in each level of the public service.”
 
An earlier study I did regarding the use of non-advertised processes showed little impact on hiring diversity (much to my surprise), ‘Non-advertising’ hiring up due to feds’ new appointments policy, data shows:
 
…the shift towards non-advertised staffing processes does not appear to affect the ongoing trends towards increased representation of women and visible minorities and to a lesser extent, Indigenous peoples. The slight decline in representation of persons with disabilities cannot be attributed to the new appointment policy, given that there was no shift towards non-advertised process that involved persons with disabilities.”
 
As we have evidence, albeit imperfect, advocates and their allies need to use and understand the disaggregated date rather than relying on anecdotes or previous data gaps:

The federal government must address anti-Black racism in the public service by implementing timely changes to staffing processes and effective training programs for public servants, not by long-term promises, advocates say.

The Liberals pledged in the 2021 budget to make changes to the Public Service Employment Act that aim to promote a more diverse and inclusive workforce and to spend $285 million over five years to collect disaggregated data that will help in understanding the experiences of people of colour in Canada.

Nicholas Marcus Thompson, one of 12 current and former Black federal workers who filed in December a proposed class-action lawsuit in Federal Court against the government, said their action is one of the reasons that the government made these promises.

He said it shouldn’t take the government five years to collect disaggregated data to understand the underrepresentation of Black workers in the upper echelons of the public service and to take down barriers they face.

“The time frame is very long and Black workers continue to suffer and show up to work injured every day,” he said.

“There’s a lot of mental health issues associated with the discrimination, the systemic discrimination, that Black workers have faced and continue to face — a lot of racial trauma that Black workers are facing.”

The plaintiffs are alleging systemic discrimination in how the federal government has hired and promoted thousands of public servants for nearly half a century.

“There’s a glass ceiling at the bottom of the public service for Black workers, and the top of the public service is reserved for white folks,” he said.

None of the allegations has been tested in court. The plaintiffs are waiting for a certification hearing scheduled for June.

Treasury Board spokesperson Martin Potvin said it’s premature to comment on the lawsuit, but the government will consider all options, including alternative dispute resolution, as it seeks to address the concerns raised.

The national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada said anti-Black racism in the federal public service is widespread.

Chris Aylward said there’s limited opportunities for career growth or advancement due to systemic exclusion of Black employees.

“Canada’s public service represents itself as merit-based, inclusive and non-partisan but ongoing systemic discrimination and racism basically show that this is not the reality,” he said.

“There’s no doubt in my mind about that and it’s not specific to any one department or agency. I think it’s government-wide.”

He said the current data collected by the government only allow people to self-identify as visible minorities, so it’s not clear how many Black employees are working in each level of the public service.

“We believe (the disaggregated data) is crucial to understanding the disparities for specific marginalized communities in Canada, and in particular the Black community,” he said.

Potvin of the Treasury Board said more work is needed to eliminate bias, barriers and discrimination in the public service.

“We must take deliberate and continual steps to remove systemic discrimination from our institutions and from our culture,” Potvin said in a statement.

Norma Domey, executive vice-president of the Professional Institute of Public Service of Canada, said she is the first Black executive in her institute’s 100-year history.

“It’s heavy on me to try to push the envelope for our folks and push diversity, and it just makes my job harder,” she said.

Domey said staffing process in the public service is not transparent, and there’s limited recourse provided to candidates that makes it very difficult for them to challenge the system.

She said non-advertised appointments have dramatically increased to 60 per cent in 2020 compared to 29 per cent of all appointments in 2016.

Black employees fear retaliation if they challenge the process, she said.

“It’s the excessive use of non-advertised processes that add to the exclusion to the (marginalized) groups and given the demographics and the biases of hiring managers, it ends up being a huge disadvantage to folks like ourselves,” she said.

Domey said her institution was initially consulted on possible changes to the Public Service Employment Act, but it’s still unclear what changes to the act the government is considering.

“We’re hoping there’s going to be some progress on this whole staffing process, and the revamp of the Public Service Employment Act,” she said.

Potvin of the Treasury Board said information about the changes the government will propose to the act will be made available once legislation has been introduced in Parliament.

Thompson said the government should create a separate category for Black workers under the Employment Equity Act in order to guarantee better representation in the public service.

He said Black people are currently considered a part of the visible minority group.

“What we’ve seen is that they’ve consistently picked one or two groups from the entire visible minority category, (so) they meet (the requirements of) the Employment Equity Act,” he said.

Aylward of the Public Service Alliance of Canada also said federal departments meet the act requirements by hiring non-Black people of colour.

“They say ‘Oh, we’re on target. We’ve met our quota,’ kind of thing. And that’s simply not right,” he said.

He said a complete review of the Public Service Employment Act and the Employment Equity Act has to happen at the same time.

Domey said there also is a need for more bias-awareness training in the public service.

“People don’t even recognize when they’re being racist, so there’s something wrong with that picture,” she said.

She said the training courses need to be ongoing and entrenched into the public servants’ day-to-day activities.

“I hope it’s not just, ‘Oh, I’ve done my presentation. I’m the champion for diversity. Now, I can tick off that box and get my bonus.’ “

Source: Action needed to end anti-Black racism in public service: advocates

Liberals pledge $300 million to support Black-led community organizations in 2021 federal budget

Of note:

The federal government plans to put $300 million forward to support Black-led charitable organizations in 2021-22.

“We know the pandemic has exacerbated systemic barriers faced by racialized Canadians,” finance minister Chrystia Freeland said in her budget announcement Monday.

The budget proposes $200 million to endow a philanthropic fund dedicated to supporting Black-led charities and organizations serving youth and social initiatives.

As well as $100 million for the “Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative.”

Both of which will be administered through Employment and Social Development Canada for the 2021-22 year.

Freeland also announced additional funding for the existing Black entrepreneurship fund.

The Foundation for Black Communities put the proposal forward for an endowment to be written into the 2021 budget.

“This investment will allow for the financial infrastructure to ensure Black communities have long-term, self-directed and self-sustaining resources,” said Rebecca Darwent, a co-steering member of the Foundation for Black Communities. Darwent added that endowing the organization would ensure funding is sustained regardless of changing priorities of future governments.

In a report released at the end of last year, it found that for every $100 of grant funding dispensed by Canada’s leading philanthropic foundations, only 30 cents go to Black community organizations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted Black Canadians, and the Foundation for Black Communities has said that Black-led community organizations will be crucial to the response.

“The aftershocks of COVID over the next five to 10 years are what we as a community have to prepare ourselves for,” co-founder Liban Abokor previously told the Star.

Source: Liberals pledge $300 million to support Black-led community organizations in 2021 federal budget

Foundation for Black Communities seeks $200 million from federal budget to support Black-led charities

Interesting. During the Conservatives Community Historical Recognition Program, Canadian Ukrainians argued successfully for a World War 1 internment endowment, but for $10 million.

Their main argument was to provide greater flexibility in responding to proposals, which largely has been born out with reasonably transparency on the projects funded. It was easier for the government to agree, given that the Ukrainian Canadian community had an established foundation, the Taras Shevchenko Founcation, with a track record and established governance structures.

But $200m is a big ask:

Eugenia Addy remembers what it was like as a young Black girl in Toronto’s The East Mall, trying to envision her future.

“I grew up in one of the communities that we do work in, and really not being able to see myself represented anywhere on TV [or] in my textbooks,” Addy said. “So to really believe that I could be a scientist or an engineer was something that I literally had to dream about, because I couldn’t see it in reality.”

While pursuing her PhD in chemistry, she met Francis Jeffers, the founder of Visions of Science, an organization that brings interactive science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programming to kids in marginalized communities. Now as the CEO, Addy aims to open doors for others like her.

Umoja operates with just three staff members and a dedicated team of volunteers. Munyezamu says the organization is struggling financially to keep up with so many responsibilities.

“One thing I do every day is fundraising, fundraising, fundraising. Every month. We don’t know where we’re going to get the money for next month,” said Munyezamu.

Source: Foundation for Black Communities seeks $200 million from federal budget to support Black-led charities