From police to parole and courts to jail and almost all other social work areas are thronged with racial bias. The recent anti-racism protests have also sparked a conversation about the culture and policies of Canadian prison systems. Racial biases are often only identified in some social institutions. Accepting that racism exists is a good start, but the identification of all forms of racialism is also crucial. The police are just one of many factors that contribute to racialism. Colonialism also another factor.
When the official government took control 150 years ago for the second-largest country, they were well aware that they were not well equipped to subdue natives. They knew that it would not be an easy task to assert sovereignty over newly purchased Rupert’s Land. The time has since changed, legislations evolved, yet colonial regime is still a part of our system. Our society is full of racist structures, police being the most prominent tip of a submerged iceberg. From police forces to parole and courts to jail and almost all other social work areas are thronged with racial bias.
The Indigenous children, for example, can be taken away from their parents. These children are placed in foster care by social workers. The white oriented foster care system provides no oversight to them and leaves them on their own when they age out at 18. They have no support and can come to be in trouble with the police. Moreover, they are unable to defend themselves in our fair courts. They face jail sentences and have their life spiraling downwards. Since 2012, there has been an increase of about 21.3% in the indigenous inmate population at the time of writing. For the very same, the percentage of non-indigenous inmates decreased by 11.8%. The overall population of indigenous females in Canada is about just 4% compared with the general statistics (census data from Statistics Canada 2011). However, the percentage of female indigenous offenders is 37.9% of the total female inmate population.
In the past few decades, the police force has become more militarized and sophisticated across North America. They now have body armors, an automatic firing range, and most a military-grade assault vehicle. Although it might seem that decreasing funding for the police is a viable option, but it is not that feasible in reality. Public opinion should be a vital input of policing policies and peacekeeping. Police are protectors of people, and the verdict of people strengthens their trust in them.
Every public institute should be ready to change, evolve as per the time, face scrutiny, and still grow. The police force is a public institute, but jails, social agencies, and the overall justice system are all regarded as private entities. They operate under shroud secrecy. But now, it is time to review how institutional racialism works in our society. How it affects people of color in Canada? The recent international movement Black Lives Matter has created a crucial time for a positive change in society.
Trudeau nominates first judge of colour to sit on Supreme Court
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday made history by nominating the first judge of color to sit on the country’s Supreme Court, which has only ever had white justices in its 146-year existence.
Mahmud Jamal, who has been a judge on Ontario‘s court of appeal since 2019, trained as a lawyer and appeared before the Supreme Court in 35 appeals addressing a range of civil, constitutional, criminal and regulatory issues.
“He’ll be a valuable asset to the Supreme Court – and that’s why, today, I’m announcing his historic nomination to our country’s highest court,” Trudeau said on Twitter.
Trudeau has frequently said there is a need to address systemic racism in Canada.
Jamal, born in Nairobi in 1967, emigrated with his family to Britain in 1969 where he said he was “taunted and harassed because of my name, religion, or the color of my skin.”
In 1981 the family moved to Canada, where his “experiences exposed me to some of the challenges and aspirations of immigrants, religious minorities, and racialized persons,” he said in a document submitted to support his candidacy.
Canada is a multicultural country, with more than 22% of the population comprised of minorities and another 5% aboriginal, according to the latest census.
“We know people are facing systemic discrimination, unconscious bias and anti-black racism every single day,” Trudeau said last year.
Jamal will replace Justice Rosalie Abella, who is due to retire from the nine-person court on July 1.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
Donors pledge $1.5 billion for Venezuelan migrants, humanitarian crisis
More than 30 countries and two development banks on Thursday pledged more than $1.5 billion in grants and loans to aid Venezuelan migrants fleeing a humanitarian crisis, as well as their host countries and vulnerable people still in the country.
The $954 million in grants announced at a donors’ conference hosted by Canada – which included pledges of $407 million from the United States and C$115 million Canadian dollars ($93.12 million) from Canada – exceeded the $653 million announced at a similar event last year.
But that fell short of the needs of countries hosting the more than 5.6 million Venezuelans who have left their country since 2015, as the once-prosperous nation’s economy collapsed into a years-long hyperinflationary recession under socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
Most have resettled in developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean who have themselves seen their budgets stretched thin due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Does this cover all needs? Of course not,” Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters. “We will have to continue to encourage donors to support the response.”
At the conference, Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso announced that the country – which hosts some 430,000 Venezuelans – would begin a new process to regularize migrants’ status. That came after Colombia in February gave 10-year protected status to the 1.8 million Venezuelans it hosts.
Karina Gould, Canada‘s minister for international development, said the amount pledged showed donors were eager to support such efforts.
“There is that recognition on behalf of the global community that there needs to be support to ensure that that generosity can continue, and can actually deepen, in host countries,” Gould said.
In addition, the World Bank and Inter-American Developmemt Bank pledged $600 million in loans to address the crisis, Gould said.
($1 = 1.2349 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Luc Cohen, Michelle Nichols and David Ljunggren; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Aurora Ellis)
Ecuador to start new ‘normalization process’ for Venezuelan migrants
Ecuador will implement a new “normalization process” for the 430,000 Venezuelan migrants living in the South American country, President Guillermo Lasso said on Thursday, without providing further details of the plan.
Lasso’s announcement, at a conference hosted by Canada intended to raise money to support the more than 5.6 million Venezuelans who have fled an economic crisis in the South American country, came after Colombia in February gave 10-year protected status to the nearly 2 million Venezuelans it hosts.
“I am pleased to announce the beginning of a new regularization process, which in order to be an effective, lasting and permanent policy should be complemented by strategies for economic integration and labor market access,” Lasso said.
Ecuador in late 2019 launched a regularization process for Venezuelans who arrived before July of that year. That included two-year humanitarian visas meant to facilitate access to social services.
Lasso said Ecuador needed outside funding to continue caring for Venezuelan migrants, estimating that more than 100,000 additional migrants were expected to arrive before the end of the year.
“I call on our partners in the international community to be co-responsible and have solidarity with Venezuelan migrants and refugees, and with the countries that receive them,” he said.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen; editing by Barbara Lewis)