Wanda Robson, centre, sister of Viola Desmond, is surrounded by friends and family while posing next to the new $10 bank note featuring her sister following the bill's unveiling in Halifax on March 8, 2018 when Desmond became the first Canadian woman to be featured on a regularly circulating bank note. A little more than a year later a study has revealed some shocking statistics about police checks and racial profiling in Nova Scotia's capital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese)

Statistics reveal a major increase in Halifax racial profiling


A study released Wednesday appears to confirm what members of Nova Scotia’s black community have been saying for years: police profiling and street checks are getting worse–not better–in Halifax, the provincial capital.

The report found that black people in the Halifax region are six times more likely to be checked by police than white people.

That’s double what data showed a little more than two years ago.

The report by University of Toronto professor Scot Wortley showed that 30 per cent of Halifax’s black male population had been charged with a crime, as opposed with 6.8 per cent of the white male population. (Robert Short/CBC)

The report, prepared by University of Toronto criminology professor Scot Wortley. also doubles a CBC News estimate that triggered the review.

Wortley said the blacks told him many members of the black community are afraid of police, feel targeted by police, are treated rudely and aggressively and that police treatment of black people has not improved significantly in the past 20 years.

He concludes that street checks must be banned or–at least–regulated, noting that street checks have a disproportionate effects on Nova Scotia’s black community.

Wortley’s report showed that 30 per cent of Halifax’s male population has been charged with a crime, compared to 6.8 per cent of the white community.

Seven out of the 12 people killed in Halifax in the first 11 months of 2016 were black men. Not pictured is Terry Izzard. (CBC News)

He says those figures likely mean black people are more likely to be charged for the same behaviour than white people.

The charge rate for black males with cannabis offences, Wortley says, is four times higher than for white males, despite the fact that there is no evidence that black people use cannabis more than white people.

The report was commissioned by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission after an RCMP study found that in the first 10 months of 2016, 41 per cent of 1,246 street checks involved African-Nova Scotians.

Another report by the Halifax Regional Police found that between 2005 and 2016 blacks were subject to about 11 per cent of checks while making up 3.59 per cent of the city’s population.

Jean Michel-Blais has been chief of Halifax Regional Police since October 2012. (Halifax Regional Police)

In February, a group of black Nova Scotians said they were profiled during a visit to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, a charge later confirmed by House Speaker Geoff Regan,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later apologized for the incident during a trip to Halifax.

The Halifax black community has long been seen by many as “Canada’s Black Mecca,” though not everyone agrees.

In late 2018, a long-time member of Halifax’s black community, Viola Desmond, became the first black Canadian-born woman to appear alone on a Canadian bank note, a $10 bill that was unveiled in Halifax by Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada Stephen Poloz just over a year ago.

With files from CBC, CP, Postmedia, CTV, Global

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One comment on “Statistics reveal a major increase in Halifax racial profiling
  1. Avatar Michelle Spice says:

    these attitudes are what create mental unwellness in the black community including Novia Scotia. Why does this type of hate persist against black people in Canada?

    We don’t want apology we want actions and laws to stop this apartheid behavior! This is not how a multicultural country should operate and treat its citizens.

    What have black people done to you?