Breadcrumb trail

Ombudsman’s statement on tackling systemic racism in Canada

June 12, 2020 - As we reflect on the Black Lives Matter protests happening around the world, I feel a sense of anger, profound despair and frustration by acts of anti-black and anti-indigenous racism recently reported across Canada. It is distressing to hear about acts of state violence perpetrated against citizens with deadly consequences. This is not a new phenomenon in Canada. According to CBC research, Indigenous peoples and black Canadians are over-represented as victims of police use of deadly force.

As Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, I vehemently condemn racism and intolerance. I stand for human rights and the respectful treatment of those among us who are most vulnerable and marginalized. We must make efforts to recognize systemic racism and root it out of Canadian institutions so that Indigenous Peoples, black and other racialized communities, religious minorities, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ2+ do not continue to be victimized at disproportionate rates. These hateful acts, by nature, affect us at the heart of our nation.

As a privileged white woman, I have never personally experienced racism. I do not have all the answers. I am learning everyday and I have been honoured to walk alongside many survivors who have lived experience of racism and bigotry. I value their strength and resilience. I will continue to examine my own biases, and speak out to challenge inequality and injustice when I see it.

The time to act is now. Collectively, as Canadians, we must open our hearts and our minds to learning the barriers faced by Indigenous, black, and other racialized communities, building our understanding and eradicating systemic racism and oppression in our institutions at all levels.

Heidi Illingworth
Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime