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The United Nations Independent Expert on Minority Issues conducted an official visit to Canada in October 2009.  Yesterday, the Independent Expert released her report on her mission to Canada.  The report confirms that significant and persistent problems affect various racial minority groups in Canada and calls on the Government of Canada to take robust actions to achieve equality. …

“We are pleased the United Nations has recognized the plight of ‘visible minorities’ living in Canada.  As the UN Report has pointed out, despite our best efforts, members of racial minority groups – whether they are immigrants or second generation Canadians – do not get an equal share of our nation’s prosperity and are falling behind both economically and politically,” said Avvy Go, Clinic Director of Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic.  “The timing of this UN Report is critical, given the latest projections of the Canadian population that by 2031, about one in three Canadians will be a member of a ‘visible minority’ group,” added Go, who is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Colour of Poverty Campaign (COPC), an Ontario based coalition of human services, advocacy and human rights organizations concerned about poverty among racialized communities. 

“Over the last several years, we have been trying to convince all levels of governments that poverty is a problem disproportionately faced by people of colour, and that poverty reduction programs must be targeted towards racialized communities,” said Grace Edward Galabuzi, a Professor in Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University and a COPC Steering Committee member. “The UN Report affirms our call for action to address the growing racialization of poverty in Canada,” added Galabuzi.

“I am particularly pleased to see the UN Expert highlights the issue of barriers to political participation by minority women.  Even countries like India are taking serious steps to improve gender equity in their political system, the lack of appropriate action by governments in Canada in this respect is something that we should all be ashamed of,” said Uzma Shakir, an Atkinson Justice Fellow and a COPC Steering Committee member.

The Report echoes a number of proposals put forward by COPC and other human rights advocacy groups calling on all levels of governments to:

• Take actions to achieve equality in employment by various measures including employment equity programs;

• Adopt holistic and specific anti-poverty measures which recognize the complex causes of poverty that include race based discrimination targeted minorities;

• Unpack the “visible minority” data by disaggregating data so as to better understand the different socio-economic experiences of diverse racial minority communities;

• Address inequalities in educational outcomes facing minority children;

• Empower minorities to participate in political process to improve the representation of minorities;

• Take steps to protect against racial profiling and establish community confidence in unbiased policing; and

• Ensure that counter-terrorism measures meet human rights standards and avoid profiling

For the full UN Expert report, go to:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/13session/A-HRC-13-23-Add2.pdf

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