Multicultural, but anti-Black: Systemic racism in the settlement sector

This former settlement professional says the sector’s service delivery deprioritizes African newcomers

Why It Matters

More than half of Canada’s Black population is first-generation, meaning born outside of the country. Combatting anti-Black systemic racism requires the settlement sector’s participation.

All the signs of the contradictions in the settlement sector should have been obvious to me from the start, but I was dazzled by my naivete and my first real job. 

The all-white hiring committee, the all-white leadership in the organizations should have been my first indication. Then, the conferences purporting to celebrate diversity, where I would be the only Black person in the space. Where all the speakers on multiculturalism were all white. All the leading experts, the policy shapers, the executive directors and the leaders of the industry were white.  

Early in my settlement career, an executive director made a comment to me, saying that it was unfortunate the organization could not hire a real African. I stared at her in confusion, and she went on to clarify with, Oh you know, the kind who wears head dresses and the colourful clothes. A real African.

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