Blog Post

Understanding Systemic Racism in Canada: Concept and Data (webinar recording)

By: Marco Campana
August 17, 2020

The Association for Canadian Studies, Metropolis Canada and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO held an online conference entitled Understanding Systemic Racism in Canada: Concept and Data.

The online conference featured some of Canada’s leading experts assessing anti-racist policies and practices as well as present new data on perceptions about systemic racism on the part of Canadians with a special focus on the views of the country’s racialized communities and Indigenous Peoples.


Moderators: Tasha Kheiriddin, Media Commentator / Public Policy Analyst; Mohammad Mousa, Social, Human Sciences & Youth Programme Officer, CCUNESCO

Opening Remarks• Peter Flegel, Director Anti-Racism Secretariat, Canadian Heritage

Panel 1: Exploring Concepts

  • Chair: June Francis, Co-Director, The Co-Laboratorio Project;Director Institute for Diaspora Research and Engagement; Associate Professor, Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University
  • Dahabo Ahmed Omer, Chair, Federation of Black Canadians
  • Anne-Marie Livingston, William Lyon Mackenzie King Postdoctoral Fellow, Canada Program. PhD, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University
  • Linton Garner, Executive Director, Regional Association of West Quebecers

Panel 2: Presenting Data

  • Chair: Alicia Boatswain-Kyte, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, McGill University
  • Jack Jedwab, President, Association for Canadian Studies& Ashley Manuel, Managing Director, Association for Canadian Studies
  • Carl James, Professor, Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora
  • Robert Henry, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Indigenous Studies, University of Saskatchewan & Alicia Clifford,PhD Student, Department of Health, Aging and Society, McMaster University
  • Vivek Venkatesh, UNESCO Co-Chair in Prevention of Radicalization and Violent Extremism


The murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis has brought the issue of systemic racism to the centre of the national conversation across North America. In Canada, it has served to remind us of the urgent need for action around systems of policing, the administration of justice and the underlying economic and social inequalities that undermine quality of life, particularly for racialized communities and Indigenous peoples.

The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated social inequalities and highlighted public policy deficiencies, particularly related to national capacity to collect disaggregated data in the area of public health. This serious gap has hampered capacity to fully grasp the impact of the pandemic on equity-seeking communities and create sound policy to redress the resulting social and economic inequities.

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