Confronting Anti-Black Racism
The City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism unit (CABR) is responsible for rolling out the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism. The action plan is SMART – strategic and specific; measurable; achievable; relevant and realistic; and timely. Most important, it responds to the priorities identified by Toronto’s diverse Black communities.
Black Torontonians (African descent or origin, African Black Caribbean, African-Canadian, Canadians of African descent) are contributing to all areas of city life-adding their talents and assets to make Toronto stronger, more vibrant and more successful.
However, studies continue to show that anti-Black racism still exists in this city, affecting the life chances of more than 200,000 people of African descent or origin who call Toronto home. Anti-Black racism has had detrimental impacts on the life and work of Black people in our city.
As the government closest to the people, the City of Toronto recognizes its responsibility to create a city that works for all residents. Confronting and removing barriers caused by Anti-Black Racism benefits all Torontonians, especially other Toronto communities experiencing racism and marginalization.
To begin confronting anti-Black racism in Toronto, City Council adopted on December 5, 2017 the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism.
The Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism is the result of a collaborative effort between the City of Toronto and Torontonians of African descent. The review of 41 years of reports and recommendations on anti-Black racism formed the basis for 41 community conversations in partnership with 18 community agencies, and engagement from over 800 members of Toronto’s diverse Black communities.
The chart below captures the Year Two actions from the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism. The CABR Unit continues to work with the City’s Agencies, Boards, Commissions and Divisions to track, evaluate, and report out on the status of actions. A summary of the Year One Work Plan Summary is also available for review.
|Building an Inclusive & Equitable Economy
Prioritize efforts that promote inclusion and equity in City programs and services where people of African descent can access viable training and employment across sectors, and Black-owned businesses receive sustainable supports to grown and compete.
|#13.2||Enhance the quality of targeted employment and skills development programs in community hubs and Black-focused agencies.||Ongoing|
|#13.5||Champion inclusive and equitable hiring practices among non-profit and private sector employers that focus the use of police reference checks, including vulnerable sector checks, only for circumstances where there is a legal obligation.||Ongoing|
|#15||Support Black-owned businesses to better compete and thrive in Toronto as part of the City programs including the Toronto Social Procurement
|Community Capacity Building
Priority will be to build on recognition, justice and development for Black Torontonians through the City’s declaration of the International Decade for People of African Descent, which recognizes that people of African descent represent a distinct group.
|#3.1||Advocate for and coordinate with the province and
the school boards the need for education
improvements that support safe and effective learning for students of African descent.
|#4.0||Improve the quality and availability of City programs
and community mental health services to enable more mental health and addiction treatment services for Torontonians of African descent.
|#7.1||Improve youth recreation spaces in new community centres and renovation projects in neighbourhoods with high proportions of Black youth.||Ongoing|
|#8.0||Work collaboratively with Black communities to
improve food access for Black Torontonians with low income through food justice initiatives.
|#19.1, 19.2||Continue to promote the City’s public appointments and opportunities on program advisory bodies through the “Blacks On Board” campaign to ensure that Black Torontonians have opportunities to
participate in City decision-making.
|#22||Provide public education on issues of Anti-Black racism in Toronto as part of the City’s recognition of the International Decade for People of African
|Continuing to Create Culture Change at the City
Prioritize increasing the number of staff trained,
|#11.1||Engage diverse Black experts and community members to inform a recruitment and talent strategy for employees of African descent at the City of Toronto.||Ongoing|
|#11.2, 16.5||Continue to deliver a comprehensive, mandatory learning program for City staff and Law Enforcement Officers in the Toronto Police Service from front line to leadership levels, leveraging the expertise of Black subject matter experts and embedding capacity within the organization.||Ongoing|
|#11.5||Strengthen and grow the Black Staff Network as a professional development vehicle for members of Toronto Public Service of African descent.||Ongoing|
|Investing in Black Children & Youth
Build on the City’s investments in the creation, continuation and expansion of high-quality programs and opportunities to support equitable outcomes for children and youth of African descent.
|#1.2||Increase supply and variety of culturally appropriate before and after school programs for children, including STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math).||Ongoing|
|#1.3||Continue to invest in community-led initiatives to support Black youth innovative leadership development, including rites of passage, civic and community leadership.||Ongoing|
|#2.2, 2.3||Continue to engage Black parents, service providers and youth to identify relevant education and support services to better support Black queer and trans youth.||Ongoing|
|Improving Customer Service
Expand actions to promote how Black Torontonians can access and engage with City programs and services.
|#9.1||Engage seniors of African descent in Version 2.0 of the Toronto Seniors Strategy.||Not Started|
|#10.1||Advance the recommendations of Tenants First, including improvement in the quality of Toronto Community Housing through a revised tenant-focused service delivery model that better serves
families, youth and vulnerable tenants, including
seniors, with a stable funding formula.
|#18.1||Invest in community capacity-building and public education on ‘Know Your Rights’ and policing-community issues.||Not Started|
|#19.5||Engage Black communities in promoting information on how to access City programs and services, including the City’s complaint process using an anti-Black racism analysis.||Not Started|
Meaning of Status
- Completed – the deliverable has been completed by the City agency, board, commission or division responsible for it.
- Ongoing – the deliverable has been started or is currently being completed by the City agency, board, commission or division responsible for it.
- Not Started – work has not started on the deliverable by the City agency, board, commission or division responsible for it.
As part of the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism, the City will be engaging with 12 Black Torontonians (African descent or origin, African Black Caribbean, African-Canadian, Canadians of African descent) as part of the Partnership & Accountability Circle to guide and support the full implementation of the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism.
Learn more about the Partnership & Accountability Circle.
Thank you for participating in the month of events to commemorate the abolition of slavery in Canada.
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Supreme Court Decision: R. v. Le, 2019 SCC 34
- Supreme Court sides with Toronto man over detention in race-tinged case (May 31, 2019)
- Supreme Court blasts arrest of racialized man, overturns his gun and drug convictions (May 31, 2019)
- Supreme Court says Toronto police breached Charter in minority search case (May 31, 2019)
Facts of the Case
At approximately 10:40 p.m. on May 25, 2012, five young men (one Asian, four Black), were hanging out in the backyard in the townhouse which was the residence of one of the youth present in the backyard. They were doing nothing wrong, just hanging out and talking. The townhouse was in the Atkinson Housing Co-Op Housing community (just south of Kensington Market). Among the young men was the 20-year-old appellant (Mr. Le, who is Asian) and his host, Mr. Dixon (one of the four Black youth). While their hanging out, three Toronto police officers, Csts. Teatero, Reid and O’Toole, show up, enter the backyard and begin asking the youth questions and including making requests for them to provide their identification.
Cst. O’Toole asked Mr. Le what he had in his bag. Mr. Le responded to Cst. O’Toole’s questioning by turning and running away. Two of the three officers ran after the Mr. Le and were able to tackle him to the ground nearby. As Cst. O’Toole tackled the Appellant, he noted that the Appellant’s bag was open a few inches. Cst. O’Toole put his hand on the bag and realized it contained a gun. The police seized the bag and the gun. During a pat down search, Cst. Reid found cash in Mr. Le’s pockets. After his arrest, the police seized 13 grams of crack cocaine on the Appellant’s person.
Did the police breach Mr. Le and the other Black youths’ Charter rights by entering (without consent, warning or a warrant) into the backyard, questioning them and extracting their personal identification?
The majority (three judges; note that two judges wrote a minority opinion) found that the police did indeed violate the individuals’ Charter rights. As a result, the Court decided to throw out the evidence found (gun, drugs, money), and acquit Mr. Le.
Quotes from the Decision of Interest to CABR
The impact of the over-policing of racial minorities and the carding of individuals within those communities without any reasonable suspicion of criminal activity is more than an inconvenience. Carding takes a toll on a person’s physical and mental health. It impacts their ability to pursue employment and education opportunities (Tulloch Report, at p. 42). Such a practice contributes to the continuing social exclusion of racial minorities, encourages a loss of trust in the fairness of our criminal justice system, and perpetuates criminalization. para 95.
We do not hesitate to find that, even without these most recent reports, we have arrived at a place where the research now shows disproportionate policing of racialized and low-income communities (see D. M. Tanovich, “Applying the Racial Profiling Correspondence Test” (2017), 64 C.L.Q. 359). Indeed, it is in this larger social context that the police entry into the backyard and questioning of Mr. Le and his friends must be approached. It was another example of a common and shared experience of racialized young men: being frequently targeted, stopped, and subjected to pointed and familiar questions. The documented history of the relations between police and racialized communities would have had an impact on the perceptions of a reasonable person in the shoes of the accused. When three officers entered a small, private backyard, without warrant, consent, or warning, late at night, to ask questions of five racialized young men in a Toronto housing co-operative, these young men would have felt compelled to remain, answer and comply. Para. 97.
Requiring the police to comply with the Charter in all neighbourhoods and to respect the rights of all people upholds the rule of law, promotes public confidence in the police, and provides safer communities. The police will not be demoralized by this decision: they, better than anyone, understand that with extensive powers come great responsibilities. para 165.
What Does This Case Mean?
This decision affirms that there is not a two-tier system of Charter-protected privacy rights in our country. Police, therefore, will be considered to have engaged in an arbitrary detention (in violation of s. 9 of the Charter), if, without a valid reason, warrant or consent, they engage in carding by entering on to the private property of a resident in a racialized, high-crime, low-income neighbourhood while the resident is doing nothing illegal or suspicious.
It also affirms that where the police obtain incriminating evidence from an individual in these circumstances, the Court should order that this evidence be excluded because the police obtained the evidence through a violation of the individual’s rights. In other words, the case indicates that evidence obtained through the violation of individuals’ right to be free from arbitrary detention, cannot be accepted by the court, because accepting such tainted evidence would significantly harm the reputation of the courts and court process in the eyes and minds of the general Canadian public. Because of this, the SCC in this case excluded the incriminating evidence found on the accused, set aside the individual’s conviction at lower levels of court, and acquitted the individual of the charges laid against him.
The decision does not mean that carding is now illegal. However, given the unusually strong language the court uses to expose the disproportionately negative impact that carding, racial profiling and targeted neighbourhood policing has on racialized communities, it will be much much more difficult for police services in Toronto and across Canada to justify or excuse carding, street checks or other blanketing of Black and otherwise racialized communities in the interest of ‘public safety’.
Toronto Action Plan Connections
16.1 Review communication strategies with communities of African descent about the ongoing elimination of carding as a policing practice
- We should ask TPS what they plan to do to ensure they’re operating in ways consistent with the decision.
16.2 Review the decision not to destroy the previously collected carding data
- The court has said that carding impacts individuals’ pursuit of educational and employment opportunities. This gives a basis for arguing for the destruction of the data.
16.4 Review police and community training, including Community Crisis Response Programs, to include use of force issues
- This decision should impact how officers interact with communities in low-income, social housing communities
16.7 Communicate to the Province the need for improvements to policing and the justice system to better serve and protect people of African descent
- Following up on the advocacy the PAC did on the OHRC report (which is also quoted in this Supreme Court case, we could get the PAC to release another press statement given that this case originates out of Toronto, in a low-income, high crime neighbourhood and involves 4 Black youth
17.2 Review and overhaul the Professional Standards for discipline at the Toronto Police Service
- We should ensure that the professional standards unit of the TPS incorporates this decision in its analysis for determining when to lay a charge against an officer
- We should also raise the question of whether the officers involved are going to be disciplined
18.1 Work with community partners to build a coordinated strategy to advance police accountability and community capacity to respond to policing and the justice system, including translation, expansion, and dissemination of “know your rights” information
- This case is now a textbook case that should inform all our ‘know your rights’ education initiatives
18.2 Use an Anti-Black Racism Analysis to develop and implement alternative models of policing that focus on community engagement
- Now that the court has exposed the racially discriminatory impacts of carding in such clear language we can use the decision to push the TPS to explore more equitable ways of doing ‘community engagement’.
Confronting Anti-Black Racism Learning Resources
Articles and Reports
- Article: July 14, 2019 – Reclaiming The Legacy Of Canada’s ‘Emancipation Day’
- The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) Policy and guidelines on racism and racial discrimination contains the OHRC’s position on racism, racial discrimination and racial harassment, at the time of publication. It deals with issues that fall within the OHRC’s jurisdiction. In the policy, discrimination and harassment due to race are analyzed. The policy highlights some of the broader issues of racism to create appropriate context. The policy is bounded by the provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code and Canada’s legal framework for analyzing discrimination.
- The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Under suspicion: Research and consultation report on racial profiling in Ontario is the result of a year-long consultation and a review of Canadian case law. It provides detailed policy guidance on the different forms of racial profiling occurring in Ontario. The aim of this report is to give specific information to organizations, individuals and communities on how to identify, address and prevent racial profiling.
- Every Woman Matters: A Report on Accessing Primary Health Care for Black Women and Women of Colour in Ontario (April 2011). The report provides highlights from the pilot program, A Collaborative Process to Achieve Access to Primary Health Care for Black Women and Women of Colour (hereafter referred to as the Access Study). The study examined the disparities disproportionately affecting Black Women and Women of Colour who seek access to primary healthcare. This project was conducted in partnership between Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre and the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto with collaboration from the agencies, Sistering – A Woman’s Place, Planned Parenthood of Toronto, Rexdale Community Health Centre, Parkdale Community Health Centre. It was funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care through its Primary Health Care Transition Fund. The purpose of this report is to assist community members, researchers and health service providers (HSPs) working to remove barriers and increase access to equitable, inclusive, primary healthcare in Ontario that address the challenges facing Black Women and Women of Colour.
Call it Out
A 30-minute interactive e-course that offers a foundation for learning about race, racial discrimination and human rights protections under Ontario’s Human Rights Code. The course offers a historical overview of racism and racial discrimination, explains what “race,” “racism” and “racial discrimination” mean, and provides approaches to preventing and addressing racial discrimination. Note: Call It Out is designed for use on desktops, laptops and tablets in landscape orientation.
International Decade for People of African Descent (2015 to 2024)
The modern and simple design of the International Decade for People of African Descent logo anchors Afro-descendants in the now and the future, and connotes advancement now and in the years to come. It implies inclusion of all people of African descent into one group, who share a common history and heritage. The abstract form of a spiral coming off and spreading out from Africa (as the ‘origin’) in its center represents simultaneously the past, present and future of people of African descent. The spiral itself symbolizes the globe, and represents migration and advancement/progress.
In November 2016, the City and its community partner, OCASI-Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants launched a public education campaign to raise awareness about anti-Black racism in Toronto and to equip people with the means to identify it, question it and challenge it.
This was the second phase of the City’s Toronto For All initiative which is intended to challenge people’s perspectives and beliefs and encourage them to self-identify their implicit biases and negative attitudes in order to support a Toronto that says “no” to all forms of discrimination and racism, and which supports Toronto’s motto: Diversity Our Strength.
Visit the Toronto For All Anti-Black Racism page to see all the phases of our campaign.
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