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Canada: your future is beige whether you like it or not ~ Mary Thomas

Mary Thomas, Associate Editor, ATB, Jan 2019, Edmonton

Racism and discrimination touch everyaspect of our lives, from the unconscious biases that may influence how we relate to one another, to the overrepresentation of racialized communities and Indigenous Peoples in institutions such as prison, child welfare, etc. Acknowledging that racism and discrimination are a part of our lived reality is a critical first step to action.

Foreign-born visible minorities earn, on average, 78 cents for every dollar earned by foreign-born non-racialized people. The earnings gap faced by minorities in public and private sectors has not lessened over time. In 2017, Indigenous People represented 4.9% of the Canadian population but accounted for 23.1% of the 2016-17 total federal offender population. 1,409 police-reported hate crimes were reported in 2016 – a 3% increase over the previous year due to more incidents targeting South Asians, West Asians, Jewish people, and people based on their sexual orientation or religion.

In 2011, approximately 6.3 million people in Canada reported belonging to a visible minority group. As per Statistics Canada’s projections, over 3 in 10 females in Canada could belong to a visible minority group by 2031.

In recent years, various levels of government have undertaken work to understand the prevalence of racism and discrimination in Canadian communities and develop strategies to counter them.

  1. Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives Program Funding: annual $8.5 million investment through the Department of Canadian Heritage in projects and events that:

build bridges to promote intercultural understanding;

promote equal opportunity for individuals of all origins, and

foster citizenship, civic engagement and a healthy democracy.

  1. Budget 2018: in addition to the $2 million intended to support the anti-racism engagement:

$21 million was added to strengthen the Multiculturalism program’s resources for anti-racism and discrimination community support with a priority on Indigenous Peoples as well as women and girls.

$19 million was allocated to enhance local community supports for Black Canadians.


Canada’s future is beige and depends on individuals: minorities and mainstream how we take up this cause and alter racism at every instance of exposure. For the sake of our future generations on whom we will leave more than the burden of climate change, let’s try not to leave any stone unturned towards making every workplace inclusive and supportive to all.

This remains a utopian dream unless each of us takes a firm decision to nip every intolerance in the bud wherever we are. Strategic and solution-oriented design to monitor, document and celebrate inclusiveness in workplaces and denounce intolerance is the way forward for a Canada for all. Ignoring such slights will only allow the problem to fester and embolden the perpetrators. Let’s unite against this scourge that threatens to weaken the threads of the colourful mosaic that we love and cherish.


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