Anti-Black Racism

By: The Hon. Jane Cordy, The Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard

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Centennial flame, Ottawa

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, it is my honour, on behalf of Senator Bernard, to read a statement that she would wish to bring to the attention of the chamber and beyond, but she is unable to do so personally in light of the COVID restrictions.

I will start by saying proudly and emphatically that Black lives matter. Anti-Black racism is a public health issue that can no longer be overlooked. Blatant acts of racism, daily micro-aggressions and the over-criminalization of Black Canadians have had devastating impacts on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health of Black Canadians. Anti-Black racism has the impact of post-traumatic stress on Black families, relationships and communities across our country.

The murder of Mr. George Floyd by a police officer in the middle of the day was caught on video and has been referred to as a modern-day lynching. This has led to a global awareness of the pandemic of anti-Black racism and systemic racism. People of all ages and races have been publicly protesting for months. They have been demanding systemic changes to institutions that have been oppressive for far too long. We cannot allow this moment in our global history to fade into the background. We must do all that we can, individually and collectively, to create sustainable systemic change from this Black Lives Matter movement. Canada can no longer exist in this state of denial and non-action. There have been many efforts to combat systemic anti-Black racism; however, we have yet to see the systemic change racialized people across our country desperately need.

Honourable colleagues, as we begin a new session of Parliament, I invite you to reflect on what actions you will take to help build a more equitable and socially just Canada for Black Canadians. I challenge you to take this movement as an invitation to demonstrate in your work that Black lives matter in Canada and Black lives matter here in the Senate.

Honourable senators, these are the words of Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard.

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