Quebec’s anti-racism task force on track to release report this fall

Group has yet to meet with Inuit representatives, but has sent an invitation to Makivik Corp.

Makivik Corp. President Charlie Watt, left, Quebec Premier François Legault and Ungava MNA Denis Lamothe gather for a photo together in 2018. Quebec’s anti-racism task force has extended an invitation to Makivik Corp. to meet with its members in the coming weeks. (Photo courtesy of the Coalition Avenir Québec)

By Sarah Rogers

Quebec’s anti-racism task force is on track to deliver its findings by the end of the fall, says task force member and Ungava MNA Denise Lamothe.

Global protests against systemic racism, including the Black Lives Matter movement, prompted Quebec Premier François Legault to create a new “action group” last June to look at ways to combat racism in the province.

The group is made up of seven of his Coalition Avenir Québec government ministers and MNAs, including Quebec Health Minister Lionel Carmant, Indigenous Affairs Minister Sylvie D’Amours and Ungava MNA Lamothe, Nunavik’s representative in Quebec’s legislature.

Legault had asked the group to look at priority areas such as public security, justice, education, housing and employment in Quebec, and to consider the specific realities of racialized and Indigenous communities.

Lamothe said the task force has so far met with 30 different groups across the province who represent different racialized or Indigenous communities, though it has yet to hear directly from any Inuit organizations.

“The report is due by the end of the fall, on we are on schedule,” said Lamothe, a retired Sûreté du Québec provincial police officer, who worked for many years in Nunavik.

The group is also looking at the findings of recent public inquiries, including Quebec’s Viens Commission, which looked at the discrimination Indigenous people face when accessing public services in the province.

But Lamothe said he couldn’t suggest what themes or findings the public could expect to see once the report is released—the group’s work has happened in private so far.

Lamothe said the group has learned about the challenges facing Inuit communities in Quebec, via his own interactions with regional and community organizations in Nunavik and through the work of public inquiries.

Makivik Corp. has been critical of the task force since it first launched, noting it lacks any Indigenous or Inuit representation.

After Lamothe spoke to Nunatsiaq News on Sept. 28, the MNA did reach out to invite representatives from Makivik Corp. to meet with task force members in the coming weeks.

Nunavik’s Inuit birthright organization did not respond to Nunatsiaq News’ request for a comment on its planned involvement before press time.

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador released its own report and action plan against racism and discrimination on Sept. 29.

The assembly commissioned an online survey of non-Indigenous Quebecers earlier this year that found that 92 per cent think First Nations groups are subject to racism in Quebec, while the vast majority face barriers and discrimination accessing services like justice, education and health care.

The organization issued a number of recommendations targeted at different sectors of Quebec, calling for better education and action against racism in the province.

Share This Story

(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by Chris on

    It is comical. This is a government that brought in Bill 21, which is widely perceived to be a law that caters to “rural” Quebecois that foster xenophobic views towards immigrants, despite never meeting any as their towns are close to zero percent diversity. It is also the government that just last week announced they will be hiring another 50 language enforcement officers in the unruly hotbed of anglophone and immigrant combattants in the Montreal area. While I don’t think Quebec has exceptional levels of racism compared to elsewhere, I’m not so confident with the Legault government and some of their supporters.

  2. Posted by NUNAVIMIUK on

    Did you people see the news about a dying woman named Joyce Echaquan in Jolitte , Quebec , being taunted by a racist nurse. on her death bed , sad !!!!!!!

  3. Posted by Can’t wait! on

    I can’t wait to see what this ‘action group’ comes out with given the premier himself routinely denies systemic racism exists in Canada… despite forming a task force with a bunch of hand picked ‘yes-men’ from his party.

    • Posted by Virtually Woke on

      Systemic racism is the new boogeyman, lurking everywhere it can be seen in every one of our social interactions. Indeed, there’s an entire infrastructure being built to combat this somewhat vague and nebulous force. It’s not unlike the birth of a new religion, where sinners (white people, who else?) are handed their new liturgy–confess your original sin: you were born racist, and only through acts of penance and supplication may you be redeemed. Now be careful, if you challenge the emerging orthodoxy you will be branded a heretic and cast out from the tribe. No one will bat an eye.

      • Posted by Over-the-top on

        Just because you are hearing more serious discussion about systemic barriers in a colonial state than before, does not mean it’s a ‘new boogeyman’. These discussions have been taking place for decades, the only difference is people’s receptivity to them. No matter how much hyperbole and imagination you force into a comment, it doesn’t make it true.
        Being so over the top in your comments, which have more to do with the boogeyman in your mind than anything found in real life or the article itself, looks especially out of touch for a paper read primarily by inuit and other northerners who understand the various barriers to accessing the full extent of Canada’s services.
        Nunavut is the only jurisdiction in Canada where their police force does not come from there and can not speak the language of the majority. Same goes for the medical system in place. And education. Those alone are three obvious, serious and objective systemic barriers in Canada, before even beginning to get into more nebulous stuff such as what emerges from cultural differences. Those differences serve as systemic barriers when Inuit are brought to give testimony in legal proceedings via live-translation of southerners who use figures of speech and concepts which do not have analogues in Inuktut.
        And ethnicity aside, there exist systemic barriers to all Northerners in accessing healthcare, education etc in their communities across the North. It’s not all about demonizing white people, despite what you tell yourself.
        It’s ok if you disagree with the extent of the systemic barriers for different types of people in Canada, but to be so hyperbolic and dismissive to the point of calling it an excuse to round up the white people is no way to have a good-faith discussion, and is pretty unwarranted immediately in the wake of Joyce Echaquan’s preventable death at the hands of the healthcare system…

        • Posted by Virtually Woke on

          To ‘over-the-top,’ thanks for your response. I’m always up for a “good-faith discussion,” but this isn’t possible when interlocutors assume an exaggerated version of one another’s position.
          For example, you took my point about systemic racism and turned it into a discussion about systemic barriers. Doesn’t this feel like a strawman? Unless you’re saying they’re the same? If so, I believe you’re demonstrating my point; using ‘systemic racism’ as a catchall to explain inequality of outcomes or inequity in services. I would suggest this is an over-simplification of a more complex issue.
          I don’t think I said anything about rounding up white people! And you use this to support my being hyperbolic. This is so classic!
          My critique is aimed at the excesses of identity politics and the anti-racist movement. There is a whole literature and emerging discourse on this. I can’t summarize it all here, but if you are interested here’s a good podcast discussion between John McWhorter and Sam Harris:
          ‘The New Religion of Anti-Racism’:
          Also, McWhorter wrote good piece on this in the Atlantic, titled ‘The Virtue Signallers Won’t Change the World:
          Also, an insightful account from on campus by Stuart Reges University of Washington: Radicalized Antiracism on Campus—as Seen from the Computer Lab:

        • Posted by Background Blather on

          And your comment is exactly the type of the over-top hystronics that makes people like me tune out. You can talk all you want, but until you find a more constructive tone, you’re just background noise.

        • Posted by Misconceptions on

          Your ignorance of Canada’s police forces is showing. The individual make-up of police forces draw from the whole country. The vast majority of RCMP are not from the province in which they serve. They don’t get that privilege until very close to retirement, if ever. Nunavut is no different in this regard.

          Your language comment makes no sense. The majority of Nunavummiut speak English, and this number is increasing every census. The question should be, why are there still a hard core minority of Nunavummiut who are not competent in one of Canada’s official languages? What is happening with the education system that we still have Canadians who don’t have the language ability to access services?

  4. Posted by Fox in the henhouse on

    Just like the fox will never say he should leave the henhouse, so too will a colonially imposed system never do anything to actually address the systemic racist barriers in place.

    If systemic racist barriers were not in place, the ‘Ungava’ riding would not include a bunch of towns located far from Ungava itself. That electoral riding design is a clear barrier based on racial lines, so that the indigenous population of the region have their voices drowned out by the towns to their south who vote for things such as the CAQ and other parties which serve the economic and cultural interests of the Québécois majority.
    There’s not much to anticipate from an action group on systemic racism made up of CAQ members, other than disappointment and half-hearted statements at best.

  5. Posted by Northern Fender on

    If you want to see open hatred/racism (and I go by its definition, not the ‘woke’ definition), just join Iqaluit rant and rave. Lots of vitriol towards white people. Seems that this is an issue that is not unique to one race.

    • Posted by Good Luck on

      Ugh, the racism on that site is intense. I don’t go there much anymore.

      However, this is Nunavut. Racism towards non-Inuit minorities is socially acceptable. It permeates so much of Nunavut life that you get used to it after a while.

      Good luck speaking out against it.

  6. Posted by A.K.A.Truestory on

    Racism will always exist. Enuff said.

Comments are closed.