This moment in human history is a call for communities and organizations to speak up, stand up and commit to doing better. Canada is not immune from anti-Black racism. That is why the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, including our Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab, stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and joins the calls for racial justice.
It is important to acknowledge that anti-Black racism, like anti-Indigenous racism, can be traced back to Canada’s colonial history. Racism is embedded into the systems, structures and policies that govern much of Canadian life. Although progress has been made, the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Regis Korchinski-Paquet are a reminder that there is still much to be done.
Racism acts as a structural precursor to homelessness as it produces disadvantages in accessing education, employment, and housing supports.
The current social and political climate demonstrates how deeply embedded racism is in our institutions. The homelessness sector is not excluded from this. Racism acts as a structural precursor to homelessness as it produces disadvantages in accessing education, employment, and housing supports. This is evident when we consider that young Black Canadians are over-represented among youth experiencing homelessness; that Black people experiencing homelessness are statistically less likely to be screened in to receive permanent supportive housing than their white counterparts; where Black women experiencing housing precarity are evicted at higher rates than their non-Black counterparts, and lastly; where Black Canadians face systematic housing discrimination by landlords when looking for a place to live. Each of these structural disadvantages anchor Black people into a path towards homelessness.
We must act urgently to address the anti-Black racism that is prevalent within the homelessness sector.
As a settler organization we recognize our privilege and commit to implementing actionable strategies for institutional systemic change that work towards eliminating anti-Black racism. And as part of York University’s community, we echo their call to stand together against anti-Black racism. We have much to unlearn from centuries of white supremacy, which is why, as a research institute, we commit to the following:
- Support and promote the work of Black researchers and organizations.
- Prioritize the lived experience of Black people within our research.
- Include an anti-racist praxis lens on the tools and resources we develop.