Report on anti-Black racism in Quebec could put Canada’s human rights record at risk

Eding Mvilongo has 12 years of experience as an anesthesiologist and for over 10 of those years, she had no Black colleagues.

Her situation is reflected in a new report being submitted to the United Nations on anti-Black racism in Quebec.

The report is part of Canada’s universal periodic review which assesses a country’s human rights record.

The findings could put Canada’s human rights record at risk.

Mvilongo works at hospitals and clinics in Laval and says when it comes to management, there are even fewer Black people and that under-representation can lead to mistrust in the health-care system.

“You can take all the training you want in classes and in webinars, but if you haven’t lived through these realities, you have no way of knowing,” he said.

In 2020, the Public Health Agency of Canada found that in recent years “racism has been increasingly recognized as an important driver of inequitable health outcomes for racialized Canadians.”

“Well-documented examples at institutional and societal levels include low representation or absence of Black people in leadership positions,” the report reads.

A new study in conjunction with UQAM’s (the University of Quebec at Montreal) clinic for the defense of human rights says part of the problem is Quebec’s refusal to acknowledge systemic racism.

“The lack of recognition of the problem fuels the lack of proposals for the solution,” said researcher Ricardo L’Amour.

The report has 31 recommendations on health care, policing and immigration.

When it came to Black migrants, the report found that “employees of immigration Canada have expressed concern about internal racist references and stereotyping of people as ‘corrupt or untrustworthy.’ These officials have said that they believe these manifestations of racism can ‘impact case processing.'”

“It pollutes the whole process for the acceptance of that person,” said L’Amour.

Those stereotypes, the researcher said, can also extend to those seeking student visas.

Immigration activist Rivka Augenfeld said the algorithms that decide who gets one are flawed.

“There ends up being built-in discrimination in the program, so it’s not even a human being deciding that someone from Africa should be denied a student visa,” she said.

Augenfeld, L’Amours and others are hoping Quebec’s situation will be front and center at Canada’s human rights review in November.

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