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Heritage Committee - September 25 Meeting

Four witnesses were scheduled to speak over the course of the two hour meeting - the 73rd Meeting of the Canadian Heritage Committee on Systemic Racism and Religious Discrimination.
Ayesha S. Chaudhry, Associate Professor and Chair holder of Canada Research Chair in Religion, Law and Social Justice. Ms Chaudhry stated that she was the victim of racial and religious discrimination as a child. She went on to use the case of the Quebec City mosque attack as evidence of the scourge of white supremacism and radicalization in Canada. The problem, according to her, was not Islamic extremism but white supremacy. Muslims are the victims. She then went on to detail how "intersectionality" is responsible for the oppression of some even as others are unfairly rewarded. In summary, bad things happen to certain people not because of their own behaviours but because of their diminished status in a systemically racist society. The evidence cited for proof of systemic racism largely rested on the fact that recent surveys show that almost half of Canadians dislike Islam and feel Islamic doctrine promotes violence. During the question period, she stated that counter narratives were required to disabuse non-racialized Canadians of their Islamophobic fears. Indeed, she also stated that media was a part of the problem when they display their Islamophobic tendencies in the reporting of violence perpetrated by Muslims. She thought that education programs for the media would be a good idea.
Avvy Yao-Yao Go, Clinic Director, Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. This witness cited the wage gap between women of race and "non-racialized" men as evidence of systemic racism along with the impediments associated with the re-unification of racialized families. Solutions included the collection of race-based data to measure the effectiveness of government programs and policies. She did not recommend the collection of data that would shed light on the types and rates of crimes committed by "racialized" communities. During the question period, she again reiterated as fact that race explained discrepancies in wages and poverty - except for the Philippino and Japanese communities.      

Shawn Richard, President, Canadian Association of Black Lawyers also mentioned the Quebec city attack as a straight-forward case of racism and racial discrimination. He did not explain why no "hate" or "terror" charges had been laid in the case. Mr Richard stated that blacks were overrepresented in the criminal system due to social inequality and differential enforcement of criminal law.

Shalini Konanur, Executive Director and Lawyer, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO) called for a national action plan to deal with systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia and to have it include equity employment plans.

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