There have been various kinds of talks, meetings and declarations on the matter for over 30 years, but activists are are hoping that this time–maybe–more than a little progress will be made.
The consultations by the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM) are being held in a city where immigrants now comprise 34 per cent of the population and the unemployment rate for new immigrants is double what it is for non-immigrants.
According to the Montreal Gazette, hate crimes rose by more than 50 per cent–to a total of 311–from 2016 to 2017.
In December, the City of Montreal directed its police service to track allegations of social and racial profiling as part of a series of commitments aimed at curbing the long-standing problem.
That same month, a research group at Concordia University released a report that showed racial profiling remains an issue in Montreal neighbourhoods where people of a visible minority congregate.
Discussions and declarations go back to–at least–1989 when the city signed a declaration against racism.
And there have been plenty since (see page 66 of link at top of story) but, activists say, what’s needed is a whole lot more action.
Still, systemic discrimination is back in the news, getting a bit of attention.
That’s due in no small part to a human dynamo named Balarama Holness, who leads a group called Montreal in Action.
Holness is currently a third-year law student at McGill University
Among other things in his 35 years, he’s has earned a Master’s Degree in Education (University of New Brunswick, 2015), won a Grey Cup (Montreal Alouettes, 2010) and run (he lost) for borough mayor in Montreal North (Montreal municipal election, 2017).
Holness, in short, is one of those guys who doesn’t let a lot of grass grow under his feet–understandable enough when one considers that he was a sprinter in university.
In May of last year, he began gathering signatures for a petition he started to get the city moving on doing something about the ill-effects of racism
He was in the room last night when he, along with with members of Montreal’s deaf, physically handicapped and Indigenous communities, showed up for what was billed as an information session.
I spoke with him Thursday morning.