CFU statement on Anti Black Racism

The Canadian Freelance Union condemns the systemic racism and Anti-Black, Anti-Indigenous violence that is prevalent across the globe. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the subsequent response to the protests that have seen people--including journalists--maimed, injured, and harassed for exercising their right to assemble once more demands that we act, we educate, and we recommit to anti-racism solidarity.

The actions by the police, the state and various other bodies of authority have, by design, perpetuated a system of violence that has targeted Black, Indigenous and racialized people.

This systemic Anti-Black, Anti-Indigenous violence has deep roots in Canada. During the pandemic, at least nine Indigenous people have been killed during interactions with police.

Canada was built on genocide and the violence which is endemic has severe consequences for impacted communities, and all of us living on this land.

After years of peaceful protests, one of the largest civil rights movements has once again been launched by Black and Afro-Indigenous organizers and their allies. This movement has been created in response to a continuous lack of justice that has been left unaddressed for decades.

As most of our racialized members know, in both Canada and the United States, our police forces were created with the aim to control, through force, the Indigenous and non-white population. The RCMP was inspired by the quasi-military force--the Royal Irish Constabulary--that Britain was using to oppress the Irish.

Originally named the North-West Mounted Police, they were to ‘keep order’ in the North-West Territories. But Canada wasn’t going to just rely on policing to keep Indigenous people compliant. Canada also went after their source of food and furs--the buffalo--in order to starve the Plains and Métis peoples and make them reliant upon Canada, and less able to fight back, physically or spiritually. This made way for the continued and on-going efforts to strip non-white people on these lands of their culture, their belief systems, and their supports.

The National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls found Canada guilty of both historic and ongoing genocide. Black Canadians are nearly twice as likely as non-racialized Canadians to be considered low income. An Indigenous CBC reporter has resigned in protest of not just the lack of diversity in CBC’s staff, but also because the Journalistic Standards and Practices perpetuates systemic racism and prevents racialized journalists from adding their unique perspectives to the stories they report upon.

Visible minorities in Canada are 11% more likely to face discrimination in hiring than in the United States, and while statistics in Canada are lacking, there’s evidence that Black people are more likely to be a freelancer than white people. This means that creative Black workers work in more precarious conditions than white workers, with lower wages and no benefits. 

We can not let any more tragedies occur under our watch. We must fight for the just society we wish to live in, and we must fight against injustices in our society. This starts with each of us, calling out racism in our work and daily lives, educating others, and fighting for equity at every level of society. You can find Unifor’s Policy on Racial Justice here.

These are just some of the reasons why it is important that as a union we take a stand on anti-Black violence and work to stop anti-Black racism. The Canadian Freelance Union joins the call of impacted communities who are demanding the dismantling of institutionalized racism and oppression that endangers the lives of Black, Indigenous and racialized people in Canada and around the world. In a broad perspective, this means looking at new ways to keep communities safe, expanding our social safety nets, fighting for affordable, guaranteed child care, free post-secondary education, and ending cycles of intergenerational poverty and trauma.

There is a lot to do, and the Canadian Freelance Union commits to helping educate our members about what these calls to action mean, and why these changes are important to racialized people. If you see a call to action from #BLM, and you aren’t certain what it means or why they’re calling for it, please reply to this email and we will send resources.

The CFU Board represents freelancers from across Canada, yet we currently have no Black or Indigenous voices on our Board. We will engage in a process to identify ways in which racialized freelancers can become more involved in the work of their union and have their needs better represented. Not just through who represents them, but also in the priorities and campaign directions that we take on.

To that end:

  • We encourage our members to get involved in local organizing efforts;
  • The Canadian Freelance Union will donate to Canadian Association of Black Journalists in support of the organizing efforts beyond our statement;
  • We are re-upping our call for pitches, especially for racialized members. The topic does not need to be race or racism.

Black Lives Matter here, and we must all fight to ensure that Black Lives Matter everywhere.

Photo courtesy of Jalani Morgan, Untitled, 2015


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