‘Really frustrating’: Racialized people feel ignored in federal election campaign


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TORONTO — Given the recent racist attacks in the country and racism on election campaign candidates, racist residents in Canada say they are concerned that systemic racism is not at the forefront of any of the party’s leaders.

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The nearly 8 million Indigenous, black and people of color living in Canada, who make up 22 percent of Canada’s population, are wondering why issues of racism and race have not received much attention during the election campaign.

“I’m a woman of color every day of my life, I don’t get to shut it down,” said Samanta Krishnapillai, founder, executive director and editor-in-chief of The On Canada Project, an Instagram account that shares information targeted at Canadian millennials and Towards the Generation Z population, told Granthshala News.


She said she expected systemic racism in Canada to be more central to the campaigns of all candidates.

“I think it’s really disappointing to see,” she said.

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As for Krishnapillai, he feels that issues affecting people of color have not been seen as important during the election campaign.

He said, “The fact that there are leaders of the party who are able to move on from the subject and don’t keep it consistently as part of the kind of nonsense they are talking about… it is not. that our experiences are not that important.” .

Not only is Krishnapillai not seeing these important conversations about race, she is also not seeing the issues of young Canadians reflected in election campaigns.

“People keep saying, ‘Young people don’t vote.’ What are you doing to get me votes? What are you saying to take care of me, to take care of people like me?” he said. “It’s actually been a very weak election.”

And he is not ready to accept the answer that it is “just politics”.

“Why is this what we accept as politics, if you know you can do better, why can’t you? You shouldn’t wait until someone dies or a dead body to do so.” not be recovered,” Krishnapillai said.

When Justin Trudeau was elected prime minister in 2015, Krishnapillai said she was excited. She saw a feminist leader who was about to make a difference, but now she sees things differently.

“I think he’s capable of greatness, but I also think, it just feels so demonstrative and it doesn’t feel real,” she said.

This is especially true, she said, as protests erupted in response to police violence against black and indigenous people across Canada last year following the death of George Floyd in the US. This year, meanwhile, brought to light thousands of unmarked graves in a former residential school, and a family in London, Ont. were killed because – according to the police – they were walking while they were Muslim.

Sarah Barzak, executive director of the London School of Rationalized Leaders, told Granthshala News: “It really could have been, it could have been my mother too.”

Barzak said she experienced racism in Canada since she was a child, with other children telling her: “‘Go back to your country,’ – like, I heard a lot as a kid.”

She said she was disappointed that when politicians turned up a memorial to the family killed in London in June, they have remained silent on Islamophobia in the country and systemic racism in general.

“They came, they took the mic, they had all their photo ops, and then they left,” she said.

Candidates have talked about diversity in Canada, but Barzak said just talking about it is not enough.

“I don’t think it’s enough to say things like ‘diversity is our strength’ when hate crimes are clearly on the rise and there isn’t enough funding and enough push back,” she said.

And some types of racism she says are not mentioned by candidates on the campaign trail.

“I haven’t heard any leaders discussing anti-Asian racism, and it’s also growing in relation to COVID and xenophobia and anti-Asian sentiment,” Barzak said.

After 18 months in a turbulent and racist communities badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Barzak said it was time for candidates to address these issues.

“Every marginalized community has really gone through the gutter, especially under this pandemic and I don’t think there’s an excuse now,” she said. “I think even accepting it is minimal.”

Barzak said she is disappointed that issues of race are not at the center of the candidates’ election campaigns, and she doesn’t think she is alone in that sentiment.

“I look at the leadership and I’m just nodding my head,” Barzak said. “It’s not leadership, it’s a failure for me, and I think it’s a failure for a lot of people across the country.”

“This is systemic neglect,” she said.

Some voters were expecting more, especially after politicians took a knee with protesters last summer.

“I certainly wish that after a year and a half we all saw, you know, black issues would be a little more anti-blackness focused and issues of the black community in particular would be discussed a little more,” Daniels-Nostalgia The director of communications and strategic engagement is Jocelyn Otou Boring, an organization that aims to engage young Canadians in politics and Canadian and global issues, told Granthshala News.

In the English language leaders’ debate, where not a single black person was invited to ask a question to candidates, issues affecting black Canadians went unheeded. The anti-Asian hatred that has been on the rise since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was also not a topic of discussion.

“I wish black voices were amplified and exposed throughout the debate as well. I love hearing from some Asians about the past year that they have and the issues they want to see moving forward,” she added. .

Sometimes leaders make minimal efforts to engage voters, especially young people, and Ottou says this is not enough.

“The notion that you just have to do a little TikTok meme and you’ll get the youth vote regardless, again, youth interests have changed drastically in the past year and a half and they’re paying more attention than ever to Canadian politics.” for,” she said.

Indigenous voters are also feeling left behind, as federal party leaders ignore the continuing searches for unmarked graves on the grounds of former residential schools.

The head of the Serpent River First Nation in Ontario hoped that candidates would offer real solutions to heal these historic wounds.

Chief Brent Bissilien said, “Canada needs the truth before we can reconcile.” “We still haven’t reached that truth.”

Bissilien said he thinks issues affecting First Nations, Métis and Inuit in Canada are not central to the parties’ campaigns.

“So it gets swept under the rug, and I think a lot of the issues related to indigenous people are related to a lot of other minorities and marginalized people, and it’s disappointing that it’s gone over the edge during this campaign, ” he said.

With more and more unmarked graves discovered in the country, Bissilien reflects on other moments that seemed like a reckoning in Canada.

“We have many calculations. In this country there are consecutive calculations every few years. And we remain in one place. Everything is symbolic,” he said.

Bissilien said he would like to hear more about what steps the parties will take to follow through on the various promises, and issues that affect First Nations, Métis and Inuit in Canada.

“I really want to hear from all sides how we’re going to start getting our community back on the ground so that we can take the lead,” he said.

Krishnapillai, Barzak, Ottou and Bissilien will participate in Granthshala’s Voters Viewpoint Panel with Granthshala’s Your Morning host Anne Marie Medivec as part of Granthshala News’ special election coverage. Join the voter perspective conversation online at Granthshala.ca, Facebook, Twitter, instagram, And TIC Toc.


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