Black Justice Strategy to tackle anti-Black racism in justice system

Moya Teklu

Black communities in Canada continue to live with the effects of prejudice, discrimination, and hatred—from unconscious bias to anti-Black hate crimes and violence. These systemic inequalities have resulted in the overrepresentation of Black people in Canada’s criminal justice system, including as victims of crime. To further its work to address these systemic issues, the Government of Canada is working with Black communities to develop Canada’s Black Justice Strategy (the Strategy).

The Steering Group members are Dr. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, Anthony Morgan, Fernando Belton, Mandela Kuet, Moya Teklu, Sandra Muchekeza, Suzanne Taffot, Vanessa Fells, and Zilla Jones. These leaders are expected to bring their expertise and experiences to this very important work.

The group will develop a framework for consultations led by Black communities across Canada and work with other experts and community leaders. This work will ensure that the Strategy is grounded in the diverse backgrounds, experiences and regional realities of Black communities across Canada.

The goal of this work is a comprehensive strategy that identifies concrete ways to address both the systemic discrimination and anti-Black racism that exists in Canada’s criminal justice system, as well as actions to reform and modernize the criminal justice system, to ensure that every Canadian has access to fair and just treatment before the law.

Zilla Jones

According to U of T sociologist Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, “Canada’s Black Justice Strategy provides a generational opportunity to promote fairness and justice for Black people in this country. By building on previous work, and drawing on broad perspectives and experiences, the Strategy will advance a comprehensive approach to combatting anti-Black racism in our justice system and beyond. The Strategy will be national in scope, yet attuned to the diversity of our Black populations, and the regional differences that exist in Canada.”

“Canada’s Black Justice strategy is a historic acknowledgment by the Government of Canada that systemic anti-Black racism exists in Canada and that it has poisoned our justice system, negatively impacting the integrity of our communities and the futures of our children,” said Zilla Jones. “This initiative aims to give real meaning to the principles of redress and reconciliation by listening to the voices of grassroots Black communities—those most impacted by inequality in the justice system. It is very significant that we will be hearing from Black communities from coast to coast to coast—all regions, all different parts of the African Diaspora.”