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Who are we?

Anti Institutional Racism Canada (AIRCanada) is an organization that was formed in September 1998 to dissiminate information and create awareness about Institutional  Racism.

What is Institutional Racism?

(under construction)

Recommended books that deal with the subject of institutional racism

Featured articles:

April 28 2009 A blow against racism Student strikes back after being hit, taunted -- and finds himself charged with assault

January 21, 2004: Tape reveals racist police comments at Ipperwash standoff

January 10, 2001: Whites get nod for jobs: Report

August 28, 2000: "Ottawa set to kick out pregnant caregiver"

From the wire:


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Ottawa set to kick out pregnant caregiver

by PEGGY CURRAN, The [Montreal] Gazette, Monday 28 August 2000


The case against Melca Salvador is clear-cut. The live-in caregiver didn't abide by her end of the bargain - work for a Canadian family for at least 24 months during a three-year period and qualify for landed-immigrant status.

Melca Salvador broke the rules. Her offence? She got pregnant, had a baby, and got fired.

Now the federal government says she must go. However, members of Montreal's Filipino community are circulating a petition, and a professional women's organization is lobbying hard on her behalf, pleading for clemency in Salvador's case - and a review of the controversial caregiver policy.

"It's a source of cheap labour from a Third World country," said Cynthia Palmaria of PINAY, a women's group which defends the rights of foreign domestic workers. "The reason our community is enraged is that it
seems that almost every week someone is ordered to leave because they don't meet the strict criteria."

Caregivers are paid $271 for a 49-hour week. But since they live-in, and are dependent on their employers to stay in Canada, they may wind up working unpaid overtime, weekends, or doing tasks that weren't part of
the original deal. "That could be massaging the employer or cleaning the car or driving the kids around," Palmaria said. "It takes a lot of guts to complain to the labour-standards board, and you need witnesses. A lot
of women don't want to speak about it."


Salvador, 33, says she didn't know she was pregnant when she came to Montreal from Egypt in the fall of 1995 - she arrived on Oct. 13; her son, Richard, was born in June. The baby's father did not come to
Canada, and Salvador has raised her child alone.  Two months after she arrived, her employer found out she was pregnant. She was fired on the spot. "They gave me one hour to pack up and leave. I was packed up in 45 minutes." Salvador went to stay with a friend. "I kept looking for work but people didn't want to accept
me because I was expecting."

In the months immediately after her baby was born, Salvador had an infection; her doctor advised her not to work. Salvador, who did not seek welfare or employment insurance, eventually found another job caring for an elderly woman, until the family decided to hire a relative. She lost a third job as a nanny because she couldn't speak French.

Her work situation was compounded by the fact that live-in caregivers must obtain a new work permit whenever they change employers, and cannot work in the interim. The process is supposed to take four to six weeks, but can take as much as six months.

Salvador did find work, but not soon enough to log 24 months in three years. She said she didn't consider going home to the Philippines because she doubted she would find work there to support her Canadian-born son, who is asthmatic and needs medication.

Two weeks ago, after rejecting requests for permit extensions or permission to remain on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, Immigration told Salvador her time had run out. She was supposed to leave Canada by Friday. However, her lawyer, William Sloan, has asked the Federal Court for leave to appeal - launching a legal process that could take anywhere from three to nine months. "The sky isn't falling this weekend."

Set up by the Mulroney government, the live-in caregiver program was designed to fill a gap in Canada's work force - while offering a window for people who might not qualify as independent immigrants. Temporary workers who meet the requirements can apply for permanent status in Canada and sponsor family members.

Immigration official Rene Mercier wouldn't discuss the specifics of Salvador's case. But he said live-in caregivers sign a binding contract when they come to Canada - and are expected to stick to it.

"If not, they'd be jumping the queue." All the more so, he said, since many would not qualify under the standard Immigration formula, which uses a point system to rank candidates based on education, language, professional training and experience and personal suitability.

He compared it to the case of a high-tech worker who comes to Canada on a temporary visa and then falls sick. "Normally, that person would go back to their own country. You can't stay indefinitely. You've got to
work."

A Canadian child doesn't mean a person won't be sent home - provided the child won't be at risk. "I feel sorry for that person, but there are thousands who could do the same thing."

However, Palmaria argues the live-in caregiver program actually "de-skills" workers, allowing nurses, teachers and accountants to enter Canada, provided they do jobs Canadians don't want to do.

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Whites get nod for jobs: Report
Racial minorities have made some inroads as far as finding jobs, but equality is still a hard-to-find goal for many, says a report on race relations.

By IRWIN BLOCK, The Montreal Gazette, Wednesday January 10, 2001

Despite higher levels of education, visible minorities in Canada still have lower levels of employment and earn less than whites, a new study indicates.

Foreign-born visible minorities tend to face the greatest obstacles in finding suitable work, concluded the study, prepared for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

In fact, only half of foreign-born visible minorities with a university education had high-skill jobs, the report found. It is based on an analysis of 1996 census statistics, and other studies, by researchers for the Canadian Council on Social Development.

"Though racial minorities have made some inroads with regard to employment, equity is still an elusive goal to many," the report concluded.

"Racial minorities, especially aboriginals and foreign-born visible minorities, are still trailing behind in relation to education, employment and income."

Researchers also met focus groups, including separate ones for anglophones and francophones in Montreal. Many said the inability to function well in French or English was a strong employment barrier.

Fo Niemi, executive director of the Centre for Research Action on Race Relations, was pleased that the report highlighted that foreign-born visible minorities and aboriginals earned much less than other groups, here and across Canada.

In 1996, a foreign-born member of a visible minority earned an average of $28,927 in Quebec, compared with $30,363 for an aboriginal and $37,827 for white-skinned foreign-born.

"These are sharp differences," Niemi said. "You can be foreign-born, but if you are a member of a visible minority, progress is not as fast."

This finding adds weight to arguments that the Quebec government should adjust job training and employment-assistance programs to the needs of various groups, rather than "lumping them together," Niemi said.

"Not all visible minorities experience the same degree of discrimination or hardship. "

In Quebec, there is also a problem convincing the province that visible minorities have a slower rate of integration than non-visible minorities, Niemi said, and "a very strong reluctance in this province to accept that there is racism, direct or systemic."

Niemi noted Quebec passed a law last month to increase minority representation in the public sector, but stressed this will not apply to private
business. Others said it would influence the private sector.

Noel Alexander, president of the Jamaican Association of Montreal, stressed the language issue in Quebec, saying qualified people of West Indian origin are leaving because of "insufficient knowledge of French, or the accent. Some can't do an interview in French, or don't know it well enough."

Erica Hernandez, a co-ordinator for Black Women on the Rise, which helps young mothers, said there is a widespread feeling among black youth that job failures are the result of discrimination.

Stephan Reichhold, director of the Table de Concertation des Organismes au Service des Personnes Refugiees et Immigrantes - an umbrella
organization of 122 groups - said Employment Quebec staff need specific training to aid foreign-born visible minorities in their job searches.

"They need agents who are sensitive to questions of diversity," he said. "You don't treat someone who has just arrived from Africa in the same way as a Quebecer born here. There is a lot of misunderstanding in the counseling process, and I'm told it's the same problem in Toronto."

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Tape reveals racist police comments at Ipperwash standoff

TORONTO - Racist remarks made by officers the day before the shooting death of an Ontario native protester in a police standoff reveal an attitude that made it "real easy to shoot an Indian," the victim's family lawyer says.

 


The racist comments were caught by police surveillance tapes of the standoff, which took place in September 1995. About 30 native protesters had erected barriers blocking access to Ipperwash Provincial Park in a dispute over land.

The tapes record a conversation between two Ontario Provincial Police officers posing as a media crew during the standoff. A day after the taped exchange, one of the native protesters, Dudley George, was shot and killed.

Murray Klippenstein, who represents the George family, called the taped conversation toxic and poisonous, and said it added a whole new dimension to the case.

 


Murray Klippenstein

"This kind of attitude … makes it pretty easy to shoot an Indian, and if the Indian has a legitimate grievance about burial grounds you can joke about it and demean them," said Klippenstein. "Shooting them is not that big a deal."

On the tapes, which were obtained through an access to information request by the CBC's The Fifth Estate, the following exchange takes place:

 

"Is there still a lot of press down there?" one officer says.
"No, there's no one down there. Just a great big fat fuck Indian," replies another.
"The camera's rolling, eh?"
"Yeah."
"We had this plan, you know. We thought if we could get five or six cases of Labatt's 50, we could bait them."
"Yeah."
"Then we'd have this big net at a pit."
"Creative thinking."
"Works in the (U.S.) South with watermelon."

The OPP said it doesn't condone the remarks and that the two officers have already been disciplined. "The words were shameful and offensive and they should never have been said," said OPP Supt. Bill Crate. "And I can tell you our position with regards to this is pretty clear. It's just not acceptable behaviour."

One of the officers underwent native sensitivity training. The other was working on a contract that was not renewed.

OPP Sgt. Kenneth Deane was convicted in 1997 of criminal negligence causing death in the George shooting. A judge also determined that George and two other protesters were unarmed during the incident, in spite of police allegations to the contrary.

"I think once they start to think like that then they start to downgrade a person to a certain extent," said Sam George, Dudley George's brother, about the tape. "Then they start to feel that that person's not worth nothing. Then maybe it's all right to shoot them."

 


Dudley George

Klippenstein said the taped conversation will play a large part in the public inquiry into the death of George, which is likely to begin in September.

The inquiry will probe the role of Mike Harris's provincial government, and allegations that police were under political pressure by the premier to take action.

Written by CBC News Online staff

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