by Suzie O’Bomsawin
Originally published: May 4, 2016
Is racism a significant a problem in Quebec, as it is in the rest of the Western world? The data make this sad reality all too clear.
A 2015 study at McGill University found that the primary factor determining police presence in a city was not the crime rate, but the number of racialized and indigenous residents. Subject to a higher degree of surveillance, these populations are more likely to be behind bars. In 2014, federal correctional investigator Howard Sapers found that in the previous 10 years, the incarcerated indigenous population had increased by 46.4 per cent while the black population had increased by 90 per cent. At the same time, there was a decrease in incarcerated white people, despite similar crime rates.
This racial discrimination isn’t exclusive to the criminal justice system. A study by sociologist Paul Eid found that people with names like Tremblay and Bolduc have a 60-per-cent higher chance of being called back for an interview than a Traoré or a Ben Saïd. This has disastrous consequences. In the last few years, black and North African communities have experienced unemployment rates two to three times higher than average.