Canada’s Race Problem

Making the rounds has been a very interesting article form McLean’s including the chart below. The central claim is that our race problem with our Aboriginal population is worse than the United States’ with their black population.

Aboriginal Canadians va African-Americans


“Worse” could be a challenging word from the title. Is our problem worse? From purely the perspective of economic differences, it is definitely worse, as the chart demonstrates very well. Our Aboriginal communities are in a very rough spot and most other Canadians don’t care at all. I think ours tends to be more one of ignorance and apathy rather than one of hatred and fear, but I don’t know if you can really argue that’s better or just different.

From my perspective in Southern Ontario, I think this paragraph sums up why pretty well:

Possibly it is because our Fergusons are hidden deep in the bush, accessible only by chartered float plane: 49 per cent of First Nations members live on remote reserves. Those who do live in urban centres are mostly confined to a few cities in the Prairies. Fewer than 40,000 live in Toronto, not even one per cent of the total population of the Greater Toronto Area. Our racial problems are literally over the horizon, out of sight and out of mind.

I was on a reserve once, but it was one of the rare wealthier ones in Eastern Ontario, so not the best example. Other than that, I have only known a couple of people with something like 1/8th or 1/16th Aboriginal heritage. Our Aboriginal population is simply smaller and largely in completely different parts of the country than the majority of the population, so we can often simply forget that they are Canadian too. It’s a completely different level than the ghettoization of American cities where white citizens still see black citizens somewhat regularly.

That allows us to forget about it. It’s a lot easier for me to get passionate about Ferguson, even though it isn’t my country, because I know more black Canadians (and Americans, and others) than I do Aboriginals. It’s easier for me to imagine that oppression happening to them. I can intellectually acknowledge it, and I have known about it for a long time, but it doesn’t have the same impact and consequently I don’t do things like protest against it nearly as often.

So, in line with the McLean’s article, I’m going to start by publicly stating this simple truth: Canada has a race problem.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.