Justin Trudeau’s address to Parliament on anti-Black racism in Canada

June 2, 2020

Check against delivery

June 2, 2020

I rise today to address what so many people of colour live with every day.

Over the past few days, we’ve seen horrific reports of police violence against Black men and women south of the border.

But these are not isolated incidents or elsewhere problems.

Prejudice, discrimination, and violence is a lived reality for far too many people.

It is the result of systems which far too often condone, normalize, perpetrate, and perpetuate inequality and injustice against people of colour.

As a country, we are not concerned bystanders simply watching what is happening next door.

We are part of it.

The calls for justice, for equality, for peace, have found echo in our communities because anti-Black racism is also happening here.

Everywhere in Canada.

Every single day.

This is something that our own staff, Cabinet ministers, and colleagues face even in these halls.

Over the past few days, I’ve heard many of these personal stories directly from them.

And I’m not just talking about acts of violence. I’m also talking about microaggressions, which many of us may not even see.

That is the daily reality of far too many racialized Canadians. And it needs to stop.

When it comes to being an ally, I have made serious mistakes in the past – mistakes which I deeply regret, and continue to learn from.

And I want to thank my colleagues, community leaders, and fellow Canadians for opening my eyes to what is really going on in our communities and helping me better understand both privilege and power.

I’m not perfect.

But not being perfect is not a free pass to not do the right thing.

It’s not an excuse to not step up.

To stand up for each other, to be an ally.

I know that for so many people listening right now, the last thing you want to hear is another speech on racism from a white politician.

I’m not here today to describe a reality I do not know or speak to a pain I have not felt.

I’m here because I want you to know that our government is listening.

We hear your calls for justice, equality, and accountability.

We acknowledge your frustration, your anger, your heartbreak.

We see you.

Since taking office, our government has taken concrete action to fight anti-Black racism, systemic discrimination, and injustice across the country.

We have worked with communities to recognize and address injustices.

We’ve taken action to support community organizations, invest in better data, and fight racism.

For example, we have provided $9 million to support programs for young Black Canadians.

We have made significant investments to help the Public Health Agency of Canada provide more mental health services to those who have experienced racism or intergenerational trauma.

We are helping community organizations obtain funding to buy equipment or rent space.

And we have created the Anti-Racism Secretariat, which has a $4.6 million budget to eliminate systemic barriers that perpetuate injustice, notably in employment, justice, and social participation.

And while we’ve made some progress, there is still so much more to do.

Because here are the facts in Canada.

Anti-Black racism is real.

Unconscious bias is real.

Systemic discrimination is real.

For millions of Canadians, it is their daily, lived reality.

The pain and damage it causes is real, too.

Mr. Speaker, every Canadian who has felt the weight of oppression, every student who has the courage to demand a better future, every person who marches and posts and reads and fights from Vancouver to Montréal to Halifax expects more than the status quo.

They expect more and deserve better.

The Government of Canada has a lot of work to do, but we are ready.

We are ready to work with our opposition colleagues, community leaders, and Canadians to make our country fairer and more equal.

Racism never has a place in our society.

And we will do everything we can to eradicate it from coast to coast.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.