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More Canadians pessimistic about racism and equity

Nov 04, 2021

Ottawa (Canada), November 4: Increased Canadians were pessimistic about progress on racism and equity in the country, despite positive trends toward awareness of systemic racism, according to the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) on Wednesday.
In a nationwide survey report, the CRRF said that 23 percent of respondents chose "generally bad" when asked how well people of different races got along in Canada, up from 17 percent when the CRRF conducted the same survey in 2019.
Meanwhile, 64 percent of respondents said the state of race relations in Canada was "generally good", down from 71 percent in 2019 and 13 percent of respondents said they could not say if relations were good or bad.
"When we looked at the awareness around racism, we've seen that there's a dramatic jump," said Mohammed Hashim, executive director of the CRRF.
Increased awareness also means more people were confronting hard truths about the state of racism in Canada, he said. "There's a greater sense of disappointment and pessimism that exists - and I think that's reflective of the times that we're seeing."
Since the last survey was conducted in 2019, Canadians have experienced global protests following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, a rise in anti-Asian racism during the COVID-19 pandemic and the discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential schools in Canada.
While events of the past two years are believed to have shifted larger public opinions on race, the CRRF survey suggested the effects were strongest among the groups most likely to be targeted by racism.
Among Black Canadians, 49 percent of respondents said race relations in Canada were generally good, down from 72 percent in 2019 while 51 percent of indigenous people said the state of race relations was generally good, down slightly from 56 percent in 2019.
The perception of Black and Indigenous people was, in some cases, starkly different from those of white respondents to the survey, who were generally offered a more positive assessment of the state of racism in Canada. In addition, 57 percent of white respondents agreed that people of different races had a chance to succeed - a higher figure than any other group named in the report.
White Canadians were also most likely to say their local police were doing an excellent or good job. The report noted this was much less apt to be the case among Black or Indigenous respondents.
The survey pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic had led to increasing anti-Asian sentiment, with many, including Chinese, South Asian, or those with other Asian backgrounds, reporting racially-motivated harassment in the form of people acting uncomfortably around them, as they were subject to slurs and jokes, as well as threat or physical attack. And 59 percent of Canadians admitted that the pandemic had led to rising discrimination against Chinese people and 38 percent believed this had affected those who are South Asian while 26 percent said it had impacted East or Southeast Asian.
The survey showed that discrimination and mistreatment because of one's race was a common experience, with one in five Canadians reporting this happened to them regularly or from time to time. Meanwhile, 57 percent Black reported such experiences, followed by 48 percent of South Asians, 45 percent of indigenous First Nations, 40 percent of Chinese, 40 percent of East or Southeast Asians, 36 percent of indigenous Metis, and 35 percent of other racialized peoples.
Over the past two years, the report revealed that an increasing number saw the problem as stemming from systemic inequities in the country's laws and institutions rather than individual prejudice. As well, there was a growing belief among both racialized and non-racialized Canadians that people of color were treated less fairly in specific settings and circumstances, especially when dealing with the police, but also in the workplace, in the courts, in stores, and restaurants, and when receiving health care services.
Source: Xinhua