Editorial: Discrimination and Lack of Concrete Action, Nothing New in Quebec

Apologies and Vague Promises Aren’t Enough From Those in Power

Reports, reports, reports galore. How will those holding power in Quebec see and address race-based discrimination without them?

This discrimination infiltrates all facets of society—three recent reports have brought the topic back the forefront of media attention.

Released on Sept. 30, the Viens report’s findings showed that First Nations and Inuit are systematically discriminated against across the board in Quebec, including in access to public services.

An Indigenous person is almost five times more likely than a white person to be stopped by police for a street check—an interaction with the police that does not result in an arrest—found a study commissioned by the SPVM. Collecting data between 2014 and 2017, it reveals that a Black person is four times more likely to be stopped by police, and an Arab person, twice.

Quebec Premier François Legault may have apologized for the province who has “failed in its duty” toward Indigenous people following the release of the Viens report, but as Indigenous activist Nakuset told the The Montreal Gazette following Legault’s apology, “we get apologies all the time and we need something more concrete.”

Legault’s statement is nothing more than a PR move and a major understatement.

The SPVM blatantly avoids facing the problem of racial profiling. They said that they were humbled by the report’s findings, but humbled means nothing here.

This has been an open and known fact that most people didn’t need a report to prove. Instead of being humbled, take a second to be ashamed of what happens every day at your hands and show us how you actually plan to do something to change.

The fact that the first instinct of the government and the police wasn’t to talk policy change, but to either say sorry or not really say anything of substance shows where the real priorities are.

The time for real change was a long way back—we’re well past when something was supposed to be done. Several steps must be taken to redress racist practices within the institutions of our society, so that they can finally act as the protective bodies they say they are.

There needs to be more People of Colour being heard and having a say. Voices are so often being ignored or drowned out. Maybe the ones talking so loudly and making empty promises while saying nothing need to either be quiet or actually take real action.

Take note of all the “earnest” apologies whenever another report comes out. Then take a look at what actually happens.

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