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Canadians should not be blind to racism in our own country, SFU prof says
NEWS -- While Canadians may like to believe we live in a colourblind society, anti-black racism is prevalent and endemic in this country, a Simon Fraser University professor says.
June Francis, director of the B.C. school's institute for diaspora research and engagement and co-chair of the Hogan's Alley Society, spoke to CTV Morning Live on Monday, and said Canadians will often compare the situation here to the United States and overlook problems in our own country.
"Canadians like to say that we live in a colourblind society, but actually, I think we're just blind to racism here, and in some ways, this has made it far more insidious for us because Canadians often talk about it being south of the border, without acknowledging a deep history in Canada of racism," she said.
Thousands of people gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery Sunday to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and to demand justice for the killing of George Floyd, the unarmed black man killed by police in Minneapolis. An autopsy commissioned by Floyd's family released Monday found his death was caused by asphyxiation from sustained pressure on his neck and back.
"It's gone from anger to despair to perhaps a recognition though that until this fight is won, and it should have been won a long time ago, we have to continue in the black community to advocate for equality and to advocate against racism in Canada," she said.
Francis noted data from 2018 compiled by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, which examined the practice of police stops or "carding" by Vancouver police, that found black people were stopped by police five per cent of the time when they represent less than one per cent of the population.
Francis added that it's been a "deeply difficult week" and she was glad to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledge that racism, including anti-black racism, is endemic in Canada.
"What you're seeing is something just boiling over. It has been simmering in communities across North America, as well as in the black community," she said.
"This protest seems to be absolutely essential, but it shouldn't be. And this is what is maddening is that we have been here so many times yet nothing changes."
To watch the full interview, click on the link at the top of this story.