Updated Anti-Racism Strategy For Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Updated Anti-Racism Strategy For Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
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Canada immigration news: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is updating its anti-racism strategy in a bid to fight racism it claims is an entrenched reality in the everyday lives and workplaces of Canadians.

“Our lives will be forever marked by the inequities that could no longer be ignored given the differential impacts of COVID-19, the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic, and the rising voices of indigenous peoples, Black, racialized and marginalized people in Canada who reignited the global movement against racism in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in the United States in May 2020,” said Acting Deputy Minister of Immigration Caroline Xavier in a statement in June. 

“These events gave new impetus to efforts being made in the federal government as in other spheres of Canadian society, to reflect, re-think and decisively stand up against racism.”

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Despite its somewhat vague and nice-sounding references to fighting racism, though, advocates for minorities in Canada say the IRCC’s statement doesn’t say much. 

“It sounds like there’s a lot of good intentions and good initiatives, but exactly what this will lead to? It’s not clear,” Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), reportedly told the National Post.

The CCR represents groups related to the settlement, sponsorship and protection of refugees and immigrants, notes the national newspaper.

MP Jenny Kwan, the immigration critic for the New Democratic Party in the House of Commons, echoed those sentiments, reportedly admitting that, while the language used by the IRCC is positive, there’s a lack of immediate action specified.

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“As the government consults, as they examine and study these issues, the ongoing impact of discriminatory policies is having a real effect for people,” Kwan reportedly told the National Post.

African, South American and Asian delegates planning to attend a major AIDS conference in Montreal were denied visas, many of them because the Canadian government did not believe they would return home, Kwan reportedly claimed.

On social media, critics of the IRCC have noted African students who apply to Canadian colleges and universities are denied study permits at much higher rate that international students from other countries. 

Canada Already Has Anti-Racism Strategy 1.0

The Canadian immigration department has already had a team to promote anti-racism to its senior management and employees, its Anti-Racism Task Force, since July two years ago. That strategy was branded as Anti-Racism Strategy 1.0. 

Its stated goal was to eradicate racism in IRCC policies, operations and people management practices. 

It also promoted “multiple venues of dialogue” within the immigration department to effect “long-lasting culture change.” 

“The employee-driven transitioning of IRCC toward a hybrid workplace also heightened the need to listen to some employees’ concerns about returning to workplaces due to fears of micro-aggressions and made us take additional steps to ensure our workplace is welcoming,” said Xavier. 

“We are not content with merely setting an objective of ‘not being racist.’ We are committed to being actively, creatively and tirelessly anti-racist.”

With its new, Anti-Racism Strategy 2.0 (2021-2024), the immigration department is upping its game in fighting racism.

Minorities Expected To Become 40% Of Working Age Population In Canada By 2030

“With the proportion of indigenous, Black and other racialized people projected to reach more than 40 per cent of the working-age population in Canada by the end of the decade, the strategy is an initial step to moving the department to the forefront of fulfilling the promise of Canada as a truly diverse and inclusive country,” said Xavier. 

In a statement, the acting deputy minister of immigration pledged the IRCC’s Anti-Racism Strategy Action Plan, Anti-Racism Accountability and Transparency Framework and Equality and Anti-Racism Systems Change Framework will clearly identify measurable goals, timeframes for results, key responsible departmental stakeholders, accountability mechanisms, change agents and processes to implement the strategy.

“There is no room for complacency. Combatting systemic racism will require all the resources and attention we can collectively muster,” said Xavier. 

“Together, we are ready to actively listen, rigorously self-examine and decisively act to reduce and ultimately eliminate systemic racism in our workplace practices, policies, program outcomes and service delivery.” 

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