GENEVA - On December 4, 2022, the Black Class Action Secretariat addressed the United Nations Permanent Forum for People of African Descent in Geneva, Switzerland. The Secretariat was represented by Mr. Nicholas Marcus Thompson, Executive Director, and Mr. Alain Babineau, Director of Operations for Quebec.
The Secretariat joined various civil society groups, member states, and leaders from both Canada and around the world, to bring attention to the global scourge of anti-Black racism and to chart a path toward addressing a multitude of interconnected challenges.
Mr. Thompson took the opportunity to draw international attention to the pervasive and persistent systemic challenges Black Canadian workers are encountering when seeking to join Canada’s federal public service as well as the obstacles experienced when they seek promotions. Mr. Thompson stated the following:
We’re here today alongside Canadian non-governmental organizations to bring international attention to anti-Black racism and systemic discrimination in Canada….For decades, federal public sector workers of African descent have faced significant discrimination both at the hiring and promotional stages of employment…..All Canadians of African descent workers in the public and private sectors are disproportionately impacted by policies and practices that create systemic barriers to their hiring, promotion, and advancement – leading to their gross underrepresentation in leadership roles…
Notwithstanding its rhetoric about desiring to address the decades-old challenges of anti-Black racism in Canada, Canada chose not to send a senior Black Ministerial official from the governing party to participate in this historic meeting. Mr. Alain Babineau, the Secretariat’s Director of Operations in Quebec said the following:
It’s dismaying that Canada didn’t even see it fit to send a Black Minister of Government or a member of the Black Caucus to attend.
The Secretariat calls on Canada to establish a Black Equity Commissioner, similar to the permanent Special Envoy on Antisemitism and the new Special Representative on Islamophobia. The Black Equity Commissioner will serve as a champion and special advisor to the federal government on anti-Black racism domestically and internationally.
The Secretariat will continue to engage the United Nations and other international bodies as it seeks to bring global awareness to the reality of anti-Black racism in Canada. In October of this year, the Secretariat, with support from Amnesty International, submitted a complaint to the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance. The Human Rights Council body has acknowledged receipt of the complaint and will be responding soon.