CBTU Ontario, Canada Chapter members joined together on March 21st with African Canadian community leaders, key government officials, representatives of major public institutions and other stakeholders in a Summit convened on the International Day for the Elimination of Racism to address the issues of marginalization and social exclusion that have contributed to the current crisis among African Canadian youth, and in particular, the disproportionate level of gun violence.
The racialization of poverty, high dropout rates, over-representation in the child welfare system and over-representation at all levels of the criminal justice system are urgent issues affecting the African-Canadian Community that necessitate an effective community-based action plan for addressing gun violence. CBTU was invited to join the Summit to reinforce Labour’s perspective on the connection between employment, economics and good jobs upon health communities. African Canadians earn on average 75 cents for every dollar a non-racialized Canadian earns. This racialized pay differential along with disproportionally high rates of unemployment and underemployment contributes significantly to the increased risk factor in a young person’s life.
A theme heard throughout the Summit was: the time for Action is Now! The Stephen Lewis Report identified the need to action over two decades ago yet the crisis continues. The Roots of Youth Violence Report and Ontario’s Youth Action plan provide a framework for targeted solutions such as community empowerment, long-term sustained funding, a focus on meaningful skills development, capacity building, prevent and intervention strategies and strict gun control.
The African-Canadian Legal Clinic took the lead in organizing the Summit and will remain an important community partner to CBTU – Ontario. African-Canadian trade unionists and community activists will continue to work together to promote the positive and healthy development of our children.