June 7, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA, ONT – The Indigenous Bar Association in Canada (the “IBA”) stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in Canada and the United States and the protests that have emerged following the deaths of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and so many other Black lives. The historic, violent and systemic oppression of Black people in Canada and the United States must end. We are emboldened by the public demonstrations worldwide, calling for real and fundamental change to combat anti-Black racism.
In Canada, the scourge of racism results in the deaths or injuries of Black and Indigenous Peoples at the hands of the police – an institution which is supposed to protect us. The use of force against Black and Indigenous peoples here in Canada is no better than in the United States. Within the last week, there has been news of, a Chief being brutalized, excessive force used against an Inuk man, and the deaths of Chantel Moore and Regis Korchinski-Paquet at the hands of the police. Our communities have collectively lost too many lives to police violence. The IBA cannot express enough outrage and grief with the families and communities of the victims to this unnecessary violence.
The IBA challenges federal, provincial and territorial governments to put an end to violence and systemic racism within Canada’s legal institutions, and in particular to eliminate the proliferation of police brutality against Black and Indigenous peoples. Systemic anti-Black racism, racialized violence, colonialism and poverty is embedded in Canada’s cultural fabric. It has, at its roots, the basic denial of fundamental civil and political rights, and has morphed into an institutionalized system of oppression and marginalization. Discrimination against Black and Indigenous peoples is intolerable. Data shows that Black and Indigenous peoples disproportionately suffer as victims of racially motivated crimes, are victims of excessive use of force by the police and are consistently overrepresented in the justice system.
The IBA is particularly disappointed by the public statements made by our local politicians and the media that have the effect of downplaying the presence of discrimination and dehumanization of Black and Indigenous peoples in Canada. Our elected leaders, representatives and journalists must educate the public about the proliferation of anti-Black racism and harmful discrimination in this country. The notion that Canada is immune from systemic anti-Black racism and oppression, or that it is somehow less severe within our borders, flies in the face of empirical studies and reports such as the Report of the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System. Racialized violence and oppression in Canada are real and substantive challenges that must be overcome to secure Canada’s claim to being a just and fair society.
The IBA will continue striving to build a brighter future where racial divides and institutionalized violence against Black and Indigenous peoples in Canada cease to define our culture. We encourage our members and all Indigenous people to stand in solidarity with the Black community at this time: educate yourselves about Black and Black-Indigenous history in Canada, donate to Black organizations, shop at Black-owned businesses and listen to and amplify Black voices.
The IBA is a national non-profit association comprised of Indigenous lawyers (practicing and non-practicing), legal academics and scholars, articling clerks and law students, including graduate and post-graduate law students. Our mandate is to promote the advancement of legal and social justice for Indigenous Peoples in Canada and the reform of laws and policies affecting Indigenous Peoples.
For more information, please contact IBA President Drew Lafond ([email protected]) or visit www.indigenousbar.ca.