The Fall Economic Statement 2020 and the Federal Budget 2021 included historic investments and new initiatives to tackle systemic racism.
Historic Investments in Budget 2021
On April 19, 2021, the Federal Government released an unprecedented Budget, which promises to finish the fight against COVID-19 — and ensure a resilient economic recovery that creates jobs and growth for Canadians. To do so, it aims to take quick and decisive action, supporting people and businesses, and put it in the position to make historic investments in the recovery. Historic investments respond to many of the requests made by community stakeholders and partners, as well as leaders of different key sectors, during the many town halls the Federal Secretariat organized in 2020 and 2021. Measures are proposed for combating systemic racism, as it affects Indigenous Peoples, as well as Black, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, racialized and religious minority communities across Canada. This includes:
- $760.8 million for the Indigenous Community Support Fund to help First Nations, Inuit, Métis communities, and urban and off-reserve Indigenous organizations serving Indigenous Peoples meet the unique needs of their populations during the COVID-19 pandemic
- $200 million in 2021-22 to Employment and Social Development Canada to establish a new Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund to create a sustainable source of funding, including for Black youth and social purpose organizations, and help combat anti-Black racism and improve social and economic outcomes in Black communities.
- $172 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, with $36.3 million ongoing, to Statistics Canada to implement a Disaggregated Data Action Plan that will fill data and knowledge gaps including more representative data collection, enhance statistics on diverse populations, and support the government’s, and society’s, efforts to address systemic racism.
- $100 million in 2021-22 to the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative at Employment and Social Development Canada.
- $87.4 million over five years starting in 2021-22, and $18.6 million ongoing to modernize federal procurement and create opportunities for specific communities, including Indigenous-owned and Black-owned businesses, by diversifying Supporting the Mental Health of Those Most Affected by COVID-19 in Canada
- $21.5 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, for a Racialized Communities Legal Support Initiative to support organizations that provide free public legal education, information, legal services and advice to racialized communities.
- $26.8 million, in 2021-22, to enable participating provinces to maintain immigration and refugee legal aid support for asylum seekers, while protecting the efficiency and integrity of the asylum system.
- $12 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to fund academic research into systemic barriers facing diverse groups, and it will help inform actions to address social disparities related to race, gender, and other forms of diversity.
- $11 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to expand the impact of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation so it can scale up efforts to empower racialized Canadians and help community groups combat racism in all its forms, notably with the establishment of a national coalition to support Asian Canadian communities.
- $2 million in 2021-22 to Public Safety Canada to enhance its Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program, which protects communities at risk of hate-motivated crimes, by providing not-for-profit organizations such as places of worship, schools, and community cultural centres with funding to enhance their security infrastructure.
Learn more about the historic federal Budget 2021.
The Fall Economic Statement 2020
On November 30, 2020, the Government of Canada released its Fall Economic Statement 2020, which included over $200 million of clear and meaningful investments in initiatives to combat systemic racism. These include $33 million over 3 years, starting in 2021-22, to support the Government of Canada’s 50-30 Challenge to address systemic racism in the private and public sector. A dedicated Centre for Diversity in the Federal Public Service at Treasury Board Secretariat will receive $12 million to accelerate and increase the government’s efforts to achieve a representative and inclusive public service. To strengthen efforts to combat racism and promote multiculturalism, the government is providing $50 million over 2 years, starting in 2021-22, to expand Canadian Heritage’s Community Support, Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Initiatives Program and Anti-Racism Action Program funding as well as expand the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat. Public Safety’s Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program will receive $13 million over 5 years and $2.6 million ongoing to protect communities at risk of hate-motivated crimes.
Taking On Anti-Indigenous Racism
Since 2020, the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat has been collaborating with Indigenous organizations and communities to address the scourge of anti-Indigenous racism, affecting fields as varied as health, law enforcement, corrections, economic development and employment. Internal to government, the Federal Secretariat is establishing an interdepartmental table on anti-Indigenous racism, convening key departments working on Indigenous rights, reconciliation and anti-Indigenous racism. The table will be leveraging existing co-development mechanisms to work with Indigenous Peoples to combat systemic racism facing their communities across Canada. The Federal Secretariat has also been involved in the planning committee for, and offering remarks at, the latest national dialogue on anti-Indigenous Racism in Canada’s healthcare system.
A Special Seminar on Anti-Indigenous Racism
On June 11, 2021, the Federal Secretariat held a seminar, open to the federal public service, entitled Mobilizing Research to Address Anti-Indigenous Racism and Discrimination. With the assistance of seasoned Indigenous researchers, the session shared key research findings to build greater awareness of the stories and lived experiences of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Considerable emphasis was placed on exploring the ways in which colonization and the Indian residential schools shape systemic anti-Indigenous racism today. This involved helping public servants understand the pervasiveness of anti-Indigenous racism in Canada. Researchers also proposed specific actions the federal government can take to address anti-Indigenous racism. The presenters were:
- Dr. Lorna Williams, Associate Professor Emeritus, Indigenous Education, University of Victoria
- Dr. Crystal Fraser, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Arts – History & Classics Department, and Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta
- Dr. Verna St. Denis, Special Advisor on Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression, University of Saskatchewan
Response to the Discovery of Unmarked Graves of Indigenous Children
Since the discovery of the unmarked graves of Indigenous children in Kamloops, in May 2021, the Government of Canada has committed to supporting the creation of a database that identifies children who died or went missing while at residential schools. The federal government will also create and maintain a National Residential School Student Death Register and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries.
Moreover, the Government has committed to assisting Indigenous communities in locating and memorializing children who died at residential schools. Discussions have begun on an engagement strategy to gain a better understanding of Indigenous family and community needs regarding how to move forward on the calls to actions regarding children who died or went missing while attending Indian residential schools. The federal government will also provide $4.88 million to the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations to help gather knowledge about the sites and support the ceremonies related to them.
An Asian Heritage Month Like None Other
For 2021, Asian Heritage Month held a unique timeliness as the nation sought to come to terms with a surge in anti-Asian racism tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. The recent upswing in anti-Asian harassment, violence and discrimination is deeply rooted in such things as the historic ‘yellow peril’ ideology, the Chinese head tax, the Komagata Maru and the internment of Japanese Canadians. Yet with the incidents taking on a new virulence, Asian communities across Canada called on the Federal Secretariat to leverage Asian Heritage Month as a platform to address the history and ongoing incidents of anti-Asian racism in Canada.
To that end, the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat worked closely with countless members of Asian communities on a groundbreaking array of celebratory events to mark Asian Heritage Month, under the theme “Recognition, Resilience, and Resolve.” It embodied the myriad of sentiments that peoples of Asian descent in Canada have experienced and honored their contributions and their diverse stories, which are rooted in resilience and perseverance. It is also delivered a call to action for all Canadians to come together to combat all forms of anti-Asian racism and discrimination.
A Virtual Forum Series
A flagship activity during the Month was the Asian Heritage Month Virtual Forum Series. It featured roundtable discussions with pan-Asian grassroots, philanthropic, business, healthcare and civil society leaders. The event explored ways collaboration across sectors to combat misinformation and stereotypes, highlight issues of historical and current systemic racism, and promote solidarity across cultures.
First Forum: Combatting Misinformation & Harmful Stereotypes
Taking place on May 6, 2021, this virtual forum focused on the ways in which communities, organizations, leaders and individuals across sectors, can address anti-Asian misinformation and stereotypes, perpetuated through media, online platforms and behaviors. This session elicited tangible ideas, actions, resources and speaking points to create a force of change against anti-Asian racism and encourage pan-Asian solidarity amongst Asian communities. It began with a 30-minute roundtable discussion with community leaders. They were:
- Teresa Woo-Paw, Executive Director, Action! Chinese Canadians Together (ACCTFoundation)
- Samya Hassan, Executive Director, Council of Agencies Serving South Asians
- Fo Niemi, Executive Director, Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR)
- Shireen Salti, Executive Director, Canadian Arab Institute
It closed with a lively spoken-word performance by Natalie Lim.
Participants called on the Government of Canada to introduce penalties for social media giants, who are non-compliant in regulating their space, and provide financial support to organizations across Canada that are working to combat racism. They emphasized that the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat plays an important part in driving the federal government’s institutional change process in a methodical and integrated way. The Federal Secretariat will continue to connect the informed and impacted voices with policy makers to ensure that their perspectives and experiences are part of the decision-making process.
Second Forum: Building Allyship & Safer Communities
Held on May 18, 2021, this virtual forum focused on the ways in which racialized communities, Indigenous Peoples, organizations, leaders and individuals across sectors, can be allies in the struggle against addressing anti-Asian in Canada. It introduced new ideas to further alignment among Indigenous Peoples, Black communities as well as other racialized and religious minority groups and organizations toward enhancing safety for Asian communities. It also shed light on the diverse experiences of people of Asian descent in Canada and the role all Canadians can play in dismantling the systems that perpetuate anti-Asian racism. It began with a 30-minute panel focused on identifying ways to create greater synergies, information sharing, common learning and collaboration among diverse Asian communities, Indigenous Peoples and other racialized groups in Canada. The panelists were:
- Kevin Huang, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Hua Foundation
- Farida Mohamed, President, Canadian Council of Muslim Women
- Xixi Li, Executive Director, Chinese Family Services of Greater Montreal
- Fabrice Vil, Founder, Pour 3 points
It closed with a lively spoken-word performance by Christopher Tse.
Panelists spoke about white supremacy being at the root of racism and pitting racialized communities against each other. They spoke about how it erodes trust between communities and on occasion contributes to inter-community prejudice. Many participants shared that curriculum in Canada is heavily centered on the history and contributions of European settlers; therefore Canadians are not learning about the important contributions of Asian communities nor about the harms and violence enacted upon racialized communities.
Third Forum – Awareness to Action
On May 26, 2021, Minister Chagger moderated the final forum. It convened a pan-Asian dialogue with diverse Asian leaders and activists who discussed their bold programs and change initiatives aimed at supporting communities and fighting against anti-racism. It was kicked-off with a 30-minute roundtable discussion featuring:
- Julie Tran, Le Groupe d’entraide contre le racisme envers les Asiatiques du Québec
- Queenie Choo, CEO, S.U.C.C.E.S.S
- Barbara Lee, Founder, Elimin8hate
- Alex Sangha, Founder, Sher Vancouver
- Avvy Go, Clinic Director, Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
Sajedeh Zaki, a spoken word artist, dancer and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Fresh Voices, rendered a powerful spoken word performance from the heart. She is a passionate advocate for marginalized immigrant and refugee youth.
Panelists recommended that the federal government embrace adequate, sustainable funding programs for anti-racism initiatives, aligned with coordinated strategies for long-term outcomes. Another recommendation was that the federal government work with the ministry of educations in all provinces and territories to add diversity education and the history of racism (including anti-Asian racism) in Canada and globally to curriculum in high schools, colleges, and universities. Calls were made for the collection and dissemination of more race-based data in consultation with communities. Many also shared personal stories of people of Asian descent being marginalized and excluded from mainstream media. They called for greater representation of people of Asian descent in front of and behind the camera. Speakers advocated for Asian media ownership and Asian representation in key decision-making roles.
A National Virtual Celebration
The Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat closed the Month on a high note with a national virtual celebration. Produced by the National Film Board, in partnership with the Federal Secretariat, the event recognized the achievements and contributions of people of Asian descent in Canada. Hosted by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Tova Roy, it featured community leaders, talented artists, tributes, and interviews with influential Canadians of Asian descent from across the country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took part in the event, along with Minister Chagger; the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade; the Honourable Vivienne Poy, the first Canadian of Asian descent appointed to the Senate; and Member of Parliament Jagmeet Singh, the first Canadian of Asian descent to lead a major federal opposition party.
Watch the Asian Heritage Month national virtual celebration on YouTube.
Anti-Asian Racism Definition
Over the course of the month of May 2021, the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat worked with dozens of members of diverse Asian communities to develop a formal definition of anti-Asian racism. The definition, which was added to Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, is the following:
“In Canada, anti-Asian racism refers to historical and ongoing discrimination, negative stereotyping, and injustice experienced by peoples of Asian descent, based on others’ assumptions about their ethnicity and nationality. Peoples of Asian descent are subjected to specific overt and subtle racist tropes and stereotypes at individual and systemic levels, which lead to their ongoing social, economic, political and cultural marginalization, disadvantage and unequal treatment. This includes perceptions of being a “Yellow Peril,” a “Perpetual Foreigner,” a “Model Minority,” “exotic,” or “mystic.” These stereotypes are rooted in Canada’s long history of racist and exclusionary laws, and often mask racism faced by peoples of Asian descent, while erasing their historical contributions to building Canada.
The term Asian encompasses a wide range of identities that the very term Asian can obscure. While all may experience being “otherized,” specific experiences of anti-Asian racism vary. Some are constantly being perceived to be a threat, some face gendered exotification and violence, some are more likely to be subjected to online hate and racist portrayals in the media, while others face Islamophobia and other forms of religious-based discrimination.”
Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: A Week of Activities across Canada
The Federal Secretariat convened hundreds of Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast for a series of national and grassroots activities to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Activities were kicked-off with a national town hall on systemic racism in the philanthropic sector.
The event featured the voices of major changemakers in the charitable and philanthropic sectors including the Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, the Indigenous Peoples Resilience Fund; the Foundation for Black Communities; the Black Opportunity Fund; the BlackNorth Initiative; the Laidlaw Foundation and the Hua Foundation. The event was hosted in partnership with the United Way Centraide Canada; the Philanthropic Foundations Canada; and Community Foundations of Canada. This event was then followed by inter-generational and art-focused activities that took place over the course of the week in the Northwest Territories, Manitoba, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Each virtual event amplified the work and voices of Black, Indigenous, Asian, racialized and religious minority community innovators who held artist talks, panel discussions, performances, and grassroots leaders’ roundtables to showcase the powerful intersection of art, community and anti-racism work.
Learn more about the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Article From: Canada.ca