Tag Archives: anti-racisme

Minister Blair signs off on joint CIU and CBSA anti-racism initiative

Photo of CIU flag

Joint statement on anti-racism: We can do better together

We — the Minister of Public Safety, President and Executive Vice-President of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and the National President of the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) — are standing together to reiterate our commitment to eliminating systemic racism.

We recognize that all workplaces should be respectful, free of harassment and discrimination. The events of 2020 have reinforced our commitment and sharpened our focus on the reality of systemic racism. We need to do more to address and strive to eliminate racism in the CBSA workplace and workforce.

Acknowledging the problem is only the first step. We are now turning our attention to working together to deliver positive and lasting changes.

Today we are coming together to take action. The CBSA senior management has recently established an Agency‑wide Task Force on anti‑racism. The Task Force is developing an anti‑racism strategy that takes a whole‑of‑Agency approach to tackle systemic racism within the CBSA by listening, learning and taking action.

Additionally, an initiative proposed by the CIU is making headway. Last spring, the Minister of Public Safety, the President of the CBSA and the CIU agreed that anti‑racism training should be developed for all CBSA employees. The CIU National Executive identified a group of dedicated members who will work with the CBSA HR team and Anti-Racism Task Force to develop that training as well as de‑escalation training for frontline officers. These efforts are aimed at fostering positive and respectful interaction amongst CBSA employees and with the diverse clientele they serve at facilities and ports of entry across the country.

Canada has a long history of colonialism that continues to have a big impact on Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities. But today we step forward together to demonstrate our commitment to real change.

CBSA employees stand guard at the longest land border in the world. Our efforts to eliminate systemic barriers will benefit Agency employees and better support the public and travellers we serve every day.

As we move forward, we encourage all of you to become familiar with the initiatives and resources that will be introduced in the coming months, and to join us in standing in solidarity with all peoples, particularly those who have experienced racism and discrimination.

Bill Blair
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

John Ossowski
President, CBSA

Paul MacKinnon
Executive Vice-President, CBSA

Jean-Pierre Fortin
National President, CIU


CIU also wishes to thank the members of the union’s working groups on anti-racism and de-escalation training for their continued work and efforts.

CIU anti-racism working group

Co-Chairs:  Joey Dunphy and Murray Star

Members:

  • Jenny Mathelier
  • Neha Sarao
  • Lisa Morgan
  • Tacia Kilty
  • Sukhpreet Singh Heir

CIU de-escalation training working group

Chair:  Rick Savage

Members:

  • Ben Hurdle
  • Paul Finn
  • Rildo Gutierrez
  • Mike Fraser

Asian Heritage Month: United in the fight to stop Asian hate

Stop Asian Hate sign

Asian Heritage Month is traditionally an opportunity for Canadians to recognize the incredible contributions and achievements of people of Asian descent who have helped shape Canada. Their contributions and challenges are often overlooked in the media, schools, and other mainstream institutions, even though they make up the largest racialized community in Canada.

This year’s celebration has been overshadowed by repeated – and often violent – anti-Asian racist incidents across Canada and the rest of the world during the pandemic.  Many racist attacks have been fuelled by longstanding racist stereotypes about people of Asian descent.

The horrific mass shooting in Atlanta this March is just the latest in a string of disturbing racially motivated violence in Canada and in the U.S.

In Canada specifically, there has been a sharp rise in anti-Asian hate over the past year, leaving many people afraid of doing everyday activities such as going to get groceries or even walking through the park. A new report by the Chinese Canadian National Council highlights 1,150 cases of racist attacks in Canada from March 10 to December 31, 2020. Even children and the elderly have been physically assaulted.

In Vancouver, incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes increased by over 700 per cent in 2020, while in Ottawa and Montreal, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 600 and 400 per cent, respectively. Asian women—uniquely hypersexualized and marginalized—also continue to bear the brunt of this racism and misogyny, making them more vulnerable to violence.

The recent surge in Anti-Asian hate in Canada has given rise to demands from powerful voices from people of Asian descent for the federal government to take concrete and immediate action. PSAC joins them in calling on the government to:

  • Strengthen the federal government’s anti-racism strategy to include and specifically address incidents of anti-Asian racism;
  • Increase funding for the Anti-Racism Secretariat to make it permanent, independent and with a focus on anti-Asian racism;
  • Develop a stronger mandate to collect race-based data that is intersectional and examines subgroups within the very diverse Asian communities;
  • Eliminate employment barriers for people of Asian descent to get jobs or be promoted in the federal public service, including recognition of international qualifications.

We all have a role to play in the fight against anti-Asian racism and all other forms of racism in Canada. We must take action and challenge racism when we witness it in our communities, our workplaces, our union and at home. If you need support addressing racism in your workplace, reach out to your union representative.

Celebrate the voices of people of Asian Heritage

People of Asian descent are at the forefront of addressing anti-Asian racism, including collecting and documenting the incidents of Anti-Asian racism in Canada and providing support for those who experience it.

You can play a small but vital part in the path towards dismantling systemic racism by listening to the challenges faced by people of Asian descent in Canada during our upcoming webinar and learning more about their contributions through our digital history series that will be released throughout May.

This article has also been posted on the PSAC website.

CIU Statement on PSAC Anti-Racism Webinar

Photo of CIU flag

Sisters and Brothers,

The Customs and Immigration Union is a component of the PSAC. Our members benefit from the strength that comes from being part of the largest federal public sector union in Canada.

The CIU does not tolerate bullying, harassment or intimidation. Whether at a union event, on social media or in the workplace, we have always taken a firm stance on tolerance, respect and dignity. Our members have the right to ask questions, especially of their union, without being made to feel belittled or attacked.

The PSAC decided to offer a webinar in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. CIU applauded that initiative and believed it would be informative and beneficial to our members.

By creating a provocative webinar title – An Introduction to Anti-Racism for White Folks – we can only assume that the facilitators wanted to spark debate and were encouraging participants to explore why white people need to engage more fully in the anti-racism initiative. In other words, sparking questions creates a teaching moment, and that’s a good thing.

On social media, a PSAC member asked exactly the question that the title of the seminar was designed to elicit. Why was this webinar only for white people?  Instead of using the question to explore the content of the webinar, one of the facilitators simply told the member to “eat shit”.

The controversy that followed is not about racism. It’s about respect. At CIU, we want our members to receive the best possible training from the most competent experts we can find. Clearly, this isn’t it.

The CIU represents over 11,000 workers, many of whom are law enforcement professionals. While we stand behind global efforts to combat racism, we advocate for a reasoned and informed approach to education and change. We all need to do better but believe that sweeping generalizations about law enforcement don’t move us forward.

We believe that the comments surrounding the PSAC webinar are offensive and inappropriate. We also believe that our members deserve better and should not be subject to abuse when they engage in discussion with someone who has been contracted to speak on behalf of their union.

The PSAC is a democratic organization. In light of recent discussions, one of which held by the PSAC National Board of Directors, an earlier decision to remove Nora Loreto from her role as one of the webinar’s facilitators was reversed. The CIU did not support this decision. We continue to find her comments and behaviour indefensible and question her ability to facilitate a productive and inclusive discussion. As such, we are not encouraging our members to participate in this webinar.

Again, the CIU’s decision to distance itself from the PSAC’s webinar is about respect. The CIU is working on a number of anti-racism initiatives and continues, as always, to support all efforts to put an end to racism.

We believe that this goal can be achieved through inclusive, constructive and respectful dialogue.

In solidarity,

The CIU National Executive