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Designed for This: Racism and Discrimination in the True North Strong and Free

As Black and Indigenous individuals, we have always been aware of the persistence of racism and discrimination Canadian society. We’ve lived it. Many of us have survived it.

Sadly, some have not.

For many years, Black, Indigenous and other racialized individuals have been negatively impacted by the existence of racial discrimination in Canada -- an aggressive virus that has contributed to a centuries-long global pandemic that has been left to fester for just as long. It is the key component in every thread of the fabric of Canadian society. On purpose.

Our country was designed for this.

While perhaps not as overt as others, Canada has a long history of exerting prejudice against non-White and especially Black and Indigenous individuals.

And we haven’t been silent.

In fact, for decades we have voiced our concerns, often being accused of playing the race card or being too sensitive. The alarms were consistently swept under the rug. Yet we persisted. We worked hard, taught our children to do the same and thrived in spite of it all.

Recent events have shone a light on a reality that can no longer be ignored. Racism and discrimination in “the true North strong and free” exist and it’s time to dismantle a society 155 years in the making.

As a Black, Indigenous or racialized individual, how much do you know about the use of racism and discrimination as a tool to disenfranchise people like you? To bar you from opportunity, or keep you from reaching your full potential? Are you aware of the existence of prejudice in all systems (education, justice, political, economic, employment, housing, health care, media etc.)? Did you know our country was designed to keep you in your place?

There has been a refreshing shift in society over the last couple of years. We’re finally being heard. But that doesn’t mean things have become easier to deal with overnight. There is still a lot of work to do. But the real work, the effort that will truly have a permanent change, must start at home and must be done within. While it remains important to educate our counterparts about their missteps or the missteps of their ancestors, it is perhaps more important to educate ourselves about how to navigate the 155-year-old home we call our own by understanding why and how it was built in the first place.


OABP, in partnership with the York University-TD Community Engagement Centre, is offering a free workshop series designed to help Black, Indigenous and racialized individuals navigate racism in the workplace. There are limited spots available for the in-person program. The program will also be made available online at a later date and is in the process of being developed into a documentary with Potential Films Inc.

The program:

Foundations of Racism is the first course in OABP’s Navigating Racism in the Workplace series, presented by Shequita Thompson-Reid.

“The course will explore the social and political context of race and race relations within Canada and globally. The conversation will equip participants with lexicon and definitions, information about social and political climate and help unpack the layers of racism. Participants will leave the session understanding the historical context of how race has come to be shaped in to today’s current climate.” – STR Consulting

Stay tuned to learn more about the other courses in the program:

  • Living the Impact

  • Social Action for Change

  • From the Page to the Stage

Helpful resources:

  1. Legalized Racism – Canadian Race Relations Foundation:

  2. Part 1 – Setting the context: understanding race, racism and racial discrimination – Ontario Human Rights Commission:

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