The Quebec government will soon begin holding public consultations this autumn, in an effort to tackle systemic discrimination and racism, particularly in the areas of employment, education, health and social services, housing, justice, public safety and culture and the media.
Systemic racism refers to the exclusion of people of colour from political, economic and social opportunities because of their race.
It can often be subtle and unconscious, but it has a direct impact on income insecurity, unemployment, and poverty, and can cause youth to drop out of school and be marginalized. While those who experience it suffer the most, systemic racial discrimination poisons the dynamism and democratic health of a society.
The creation of the Commission on Systemic Racism comes after months of lobbying by community groups and citizens. It is a first step in pushing Quebec’s government to adopt a detailed plan to address racial discrimination, according to Montreal based COCo (the Centre for Community Organizations), one of several groups that pushed for its creation. It is also an opportunity to move towards inclusive equality, ensuring that all people can fully participate in society.
The Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) will organize and lead the consultations this year, then share its recommendations with the government in February 2018.
The process will include accepting public submissions through an online questionnaire or brief, consultations to allow people to share their own experiences of discrimination or racism, or offer solutions to the problem, then four working groups will be arranged to investigate areas where discrimination may be systemic — from employment to culture and the media. The process will wrap up with a public forum in November where some of the collected testimonies and research will be shared, and proposals for action will be collected. The QHRC will use the results from the forum to shape their recommendations.
Call for Proposals for Quebec Based Non-Profit Organizations
Kira Page at Coco-net.org explains that the majority of the testimonials will come through the participation of 15-20 non-profit organizations across the province who will be contracted to organize and hold local consultations, in person (not online), during the months of September and October.
Open to participants, but closed to the media to ensure the safety of contributors, the locally held meetings will give a voice to people who have experienced discrimination and racism, highlighting its consequences. It also takes a particular interest in the experiences of racialized youth and women in the province.
Consultations can take place through a range of activities, such as a hearing of individual testimonies, focus groups, workshops or a day of reflection, but whatever its form, the process must focus on listening to experiences of racism.
Groups that are interested in organizing a local consultation must demonstrate their interest to the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI) by August 4 at the following address: [email protected] Applications must be submitted by August 18, 2017.
Prospective consultation hosts must be currently working with racial minorities or who are familiar with the consultation issues in their region. Accepted groups will be announced on September 1 and consultations will begin October 20.
The information on the process can be found (in French) at www.midi.gouv.qc.ca/fr/dossiers/consultation-discrimination-racisme.html
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Published: Keeping in Touch column, Sherbrooke Record, Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Photo Credit: http://coco-net.org
Photo Caption: A young Black person speaks into a megaphone at a vigil/demonstration. The Quebec government will soon begin holding public consultations this autumn, in an effort to tackle systemic discrimination and racism.