Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I rise today to address what so many people of colour live with every day.
Over the past few days, we've seen horrific reports of police violence against black men and women south of the border, but these are not isolated incidents or “elsewhere” problems. Prejudice, discrimination and violence are a lived reality for far too many people. They are a result of systems that far too often condone, normalize, perpetrate and perpetuate inequality and injustice against people of colour.
As a country, we are not concerned bystanders simply watching what is happening next door. We are part of it. The calls for justice, for equality and for peace are found echoed in our communities, because anti-black racism is happening here, everywhere in Canada, every single day.
This is something that our own staff, cabinet ministers and colleagues face even in these halls. Over the past few days, I've heard many of these personal stories directly from them. I'm not just talking about acts of violence. I'm also talking about microaggressions, which many of us may not even see. That is the daily reality of far too many racialized Canadians, and it needs to stop.
When it comes to being an ally, I have made serious mistakes in the past, mistakes that I deeply regret and continue to learn from. I want to thank my colleagues, community leaders and fellow Canadians for opening my eyes to what is really going on in our communities and for helping me better understand both privilege and power. I'm not perfect, but not being perfect is not a free pass to not do the right thing. It's not an excuse to not step up, stand up for each other, be an ally.
I know that for so many people listening right now, the last thing you want to hear is another speech on racism from a white politician. I'm not here today to describe a reality I do not know or to speak to a pain I have not felt. I'm here because I want you to know that our government is listening. We hear your calls for justice, equality and accountability. We acknowledge your frustration, your anger, your heartbreak. We see you.
Since coming to office, our government has taken many concrete steps to fight anti-black racism, systemic discrimination and injustice across the country.
We are working directly with the communities and their leaders to close the gaps that persist in Canada. For example, we have provided $9 million to support programs for black Canadian youth. We have made significant investments to enable the Public Health Agency of Canada to provide more mental health services to people who have experienced racism or intergenerational trauma. We are helping community organizations to obtain funding to purchase equipment or lease space. We have also created the anti-racism secretariat, which has an envelope of $4.6 million, to address systemic barriers, such as employment, justice and social participation, that perpetuate injustice.
We have made progress, but we know the work is far from being done.
Over the past five years, our government has worked with communities to recognize and address injustices. We've taken action to support community organizations, invest in better data and fight racism. While we've made some progress, there is still so much more to do, because here are the facts in Canada: Anti-black racism is real. Unconscious bias is real. Systemic discrimination is real. For millions of Canadians, it is their daily, lived reality. The pain and damage it causes are real too.
Mr. Chair, every Canadian who has felt the weight of oppression, every student who has the courage to demand a better future, every person who marches and posts and reads and fights, from Vancouver to Montreal to Halifax, expects more than the status quo. They expect more and deserve better.
The Government of Canada has a lot of work to do, but we're ready. We're ready to work with our opposition colleagues, community leaders and Canadians to make our country a more just and fair place. Racism never has a place in this country, and we will do everything we can to eradicate it from coast to coast to coast.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.