Confronting anti-Black racism
Published: June 5, 2020
A message from David Field, president and CEO, Legal Aid Ontario
The past several days have been some of the most troubling this past year. As I watch the news, I am saddened and angered by the anti-Black racism and police brutality we have seen on both sides of the border.
Anti-Black racism and police violence is not just an American problem. Below are links to instances that have occurred in Canada:
This is a list of the Black and Indigenous people killed by Canadian police. So many of those listed were experiencing some kind of mental health issue when they died.
This is a recently published report of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. I want to highlight this particularly sobering quote: “Between 2013 and 2017, a Black person in Toronto was nearly 20 times more likely than a White person to be involved in a fatal shooting by the Toronto Police Service.”
I feel it important to acknowledge that I am writing this from a considerable position of privilege and that so many of our staff, and so many of our clients, do not share this privilege. It would also be wrong of me in the face of this to try to offer any simple solutions. There aren’t any. Nor would it be helpful to cheerlead about what Legal Aid Ontario is doing as an organization.
What I would like to do is point out a few things to keep in mind for the coming days.
Back in March, LAO published the final report of our Racialized Communities Strategy. The central take away is the Racialized Communities Action Plan—which lists 17 areas that LAO has committed to work on in order to fight institutionalized racism in the justice sector.
Our Aboriginal Justice Strategy, as part of their work, has been identifying tools to help people become better allies. One such resource recommended by them is this Indigenous Ally Toolkit. I will be thinking about how I can personally improve in this area. I hope it helps you as well.
LAO remains committed as an organization to Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and we see this as an important mechanism for addressing discrimination within LAO.
LAO as an organization is dedicated to the principles of fairness, equity and social justice. We believe that Black lives matter. And we will continue—through our strategies, services, and initiatives, and work environment—to make sure that we give full meaning to those words.