A new report from the Northern Policy Institute looks at racism and discrimination in northern Ontario.
NPI and other organizations across Northern Ontario launched a year-long data-collection exercise to measure individual experiences and attitudes across the regions.
‘Tangled Lines: Unraveling the Racism and Discrimination Divides in Northern Ontario’ includes reports on the region’s largest urban areas.
President Charles Cirtwell says while far from complete eradication, there are signs things are getting better.
“At least for visible minorities, it seems that it has moved across the board, including in Thunder Bay. But it’s where the Indigenous and First Nations population is concerned that in Thunder Bay in particular, we seem to not be making as much progress as has been the case elsewhere,” says Cirtwell.
The report also finds that the treatment of Indigenous people is more negative, even compared to visible minorities.
Cirtwell recommends continued education and sharing best practices among communities.
“So Thunder Bay should be talking to North Bay, North Bay should be talking to Kenora, Kenora should be talking to Sioux Lookout to see what is working on the ground there to build those better relationships. Things like informal regular meetings between economic development and Indigenous economic development people and non-Indigenous economic people is one thing. Regular attendance at pow-wows, getting a chance to meet the community in their home space. They say there’s nothing that can fight racism better than making a friend that doesn’t look like you.”
Cirtwell says continued improvement also relies on everyone taking a stand.
“I think it rests with a lot of individuals. Businesses are certainly stepping up. They’re doing a lot of work on the cultural sensitivity side. But really, that’s what it comes down to is we have to, as a people, commit to making this better day after day, year after year, in our own community.”