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.
Black History Month Events
Many programs, events and exhibits will be held at City of Toronto historic sites, community centres, libraries and other public spaces throughout the month. For a listing of these events, please visit the City’s Black History Month page.
A brief list of provincial and international anti-black racism resources are listed below. Download the more extensive list for additional resources.
Ontario Focused Resources
Intersecting Forms of Discrimination
- Trans PULSE, “Experiences of racism among Trans people in Ontario, e-bulletin,” vol. 3, No. 1 (March 2013).
- Prof. Grace-Edward Galabuzi, Deputation to the OAS Rapporteur on People of African Descent and Against Racial Discrimination, September 8, 2014
- Carla Gillis, Michelle Da Silva, Tabassum Siddiqui, Vish Khanna, “Real talk about racism in the T.O. music scene.” Now Magazine, January 28- February 3, 2016, Issue 1773, Vol. 35, No. 20, at pages 36-42.
- Abigail Tsionne Salole; Zakaria Abdulle, “Quick to Punish: An Examination of the School to Prison Pipeline for Marginalized Youth.” Canadian Review of Social Policy, Vol. 72 Issue 73 (Jan. 2015).
- Khenti, A. A. (2013). Homicide among young black men in Toronto: An unrecognized public health crisis? Canadian journal of public health, 104(1), 12-14.
- Black Lives Matter Toronto. (2015). “Black Lives Matter-Toronto denounces anti-Black racism against children in the TDSB.”
Unemployment & Housing
- Micheal Orntein, Ethno-Racial Groups in Toronto, 1971-2001: A Demographic and Socio-Economic Profile (Toronto: Institute for Social Research, 2006).
- Kothari, M. (2007). Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living. UN.
- Prof. Grace-Edward Galabuzi, Deputation to the OAS Rapporteur on People of African Descent and Against Racial Discrimination, September 8, 2014 [Deputations on Poverty, Unemployment and Housing, Deputations on Migrant Workers].
Child and Family Health and Welfare
- Baines, D. (2002). Storyline in racialized times: racism and anti-racism in Toronto’s social services. British Journal of Social Work, 32, 185–199.
- Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, (2015). “Addressing disproportionality, disparity and discrimination in child welfare: Data on services provided to Black African Caribbean Canadian families and children.”
- Tilbury, C., & Thoburn, J. (2009). Using racial disproportionality and disparity indicators to measure child welfare outcomes. Children and Youth Services Review, 31(10), 1101-1106.
Policing & Justice
- André Marin, “Street Checks and Balances – Submission in response to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ consultation on proposed Ontario regulation for street checks” (August 31, 2015): Ombudsman Ontario.
- Book: Cashmore, E., & McLaughlin, E. (2013). Out of Order? (Routledge Revivals): Policing Black People. Routledge.
- Ontario Human Rights Commission. Paying the price: the human cost of racial profiling: inquiry report. The Commission, 2003.
International & Canada-Wide Resources
Canada’s African Canadian Population: Historical & Current Overview
- A.J.B. Johnston, “Mathieu Da Costa and Early Canada: Possibilities and Probabilities”, (Government of Canada – Parks Canada: 2001).
- AfricVille Museum, “The Community of Africville.”
- Book: Cooper, A. (2007). The hanging of Angelique: The untold story of Canadian slavery and the burning of Old Montreal. University of Georgia Press.
Policing & Justice
- African Canadian Legal Clinic, “The Hidden Side of Paradise: Violations of the Economic and Social Rights of African Canadians” (March 5, 2003)
- Nangwaya, A. (2013). Fact sheet on police violence against the African community in Canada. Tor. Media Co-Op, 25.
- Alison Crawford, “Prison watchdog probes spike in number of black inmates,” CBC News Online.
Understanding Racism – General Resources
- Book: Abigail, B. B., and Dua, E. (Eds.). (2015). Theorizing anti-racism: linkages in Marxism and critical race theories. Vol. 76. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.
- Giroux, H. (1992). Resisting difference: cultural studies and the discourse of critical pedagogy.
- Giroux, H. A. (1997). Racial politics and the pedagogy of whiteness.
Child and Family Health and Welfare
- African Canadian Legal Clinic, Policy paper on poverty.
- Committee on the Rights of the Child: Canada, “Concluding observations on the initial periodic report of Canada, adopted by the Committee at its sixty-first session” (17 September-5 October 2012).
- National Council of Welfare, “A Snapshot of Racialized Poverty in Canada,” (January 2012).
- Birrell, J. R. (1995). “Learning how the game is played”: An ethnically encapsulated beginning teacher’s struggle to prepare black youth for a white world.” Teaching and Teacher Education, 11(2), 137-147.
- BLAC Report on “Education: Redressing Inequity-Empowering Black Learners,” Black Learners Advisory Committee, 1994.
- Brathwaite, O. (2010). The role of the school curriculum to obliterate anti-Black racism. Our School, Our Selves, 19(3), 305.
- Christie v. York Corporation,  S.C.R. 139.
- R. v. Desmond, (1947) 20 M.P.R. 297 (N.S.S.C.); Hill v. Camden and Zone, 11 U.C.B.Q. 573 (Ont. Q.B.)
- Supreme Court Decision: R. v. Le, 2019 SCC 34
Read about the case or learn more about the media coverage, and its connection to the action plan.
Confronting Anti-Black Racism Learning Resources
Articles & 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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