Provincial Task Force Hears Racism Concerns In Windsor

Windsor’s issues with systemic racism will be part of an official anti-racism strategy to be tabled at Queen’s Park in the spring.

The Anti-Racism Directorate stopped in Windsor Monday for a public meeting to gather input for the final report.

Albert Nsabiyumva is with the Richelieu Club and the African Community Organization in Windsor.

Close to 100 people attend the Anti-Racism Directorate meeting in Windsor on November 28, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Close to 100 people attend the Anti-Racism Directorate meeting in Windsor on November 28, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

He says while Windsor is a safe community for minorities, there are inherent barriers.

“For sure there is systemic racism [in Windsor] even though it’s not something that’s very obvious,” says Nsabiyumva.

He has helped those in the city who have faced institutional barriers, and hopes this latest investigation doesn’t bring about another report that collects dust.

“I want something that will be in motion and in action to see some improvement,” says Nsabiyumva.

Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism Michael Coteau is heading up the investigation, and says the eventual strategy will include better data collection.

Coteau thinks there is an appetite for government action on the issue, since there have been previous investigations dating back to the 1992 Racism in Ontario report by Stephen Lewis.

“If you read that report today, and you threw the year 2016 on that report, it would sound exactly like a report that was written today,” says Coteau. “Nothing has really changed. There’s a lot of frustration out there.”

An Indigenous smudging ceremony is held to open the Anti-Racism Directorate meeting held in Windsor on November 28, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

An Indigenous smudging ceremony is held to open the Anti-Racism Directorate meeting held in Windsor on November 28, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Coteau says the investigation isn’t focusing on individual racist incidents, but rather systemic and institutional racism.

He points to an example in his own line of work.

“There’s almost 1,100 politicians at the provincial or federal level, and I believe there are 14 African-Canadians in that mix, so there’s a huge under representation,” says Coteau. “The question now is, ‘Why does that happen?”

In launching the task force, the province points to the higher numbers of Indigenous and black people within the child welfare and justice systems, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, and attacks on Muslim-Canadians and their places of worship as the impetus for the investigation.

The event in Windsor saw nearly 100 people in attendance and began with an Indigenous smudging ceremony.