Because a history of colonialism, oppression, and suppression have resulted in gross inequities which cannot be addressed without an honest understanding of both the current realities and the history which brought us here.
Poverty in Ottawa:
12.6% of people live in poverty. 28.4% of Black people live in poverty.
16% of children live in poverty. 36.0% of Black children live in poverty.
63% of COVID cases in Ottawa where among racialized people (Feb. – Aug. 2020), yet that group represents 29% of the population.
73% of COVID transmissions in racialized people were from close contacts—that is family, room-mates, and co-workers.
People living in crowded conditions and/or working in low-paying waged work (e.g. retail, services) did not have the luxury to socially distance, isolate, and take paid sick days.
“In Ottawa and Canada, one of the things that is really hard for me is racism and oppression. It’s so difficult to see people consistently striving and working and just feeling like we can’t get ahead because of the system. It is really overwhelming and that creates a lot of hopelessness which is one of the signs of depression.” (Male, 50-59)
48% of black people surveyed experienced some prejudice or unfair treatment in the past 12 months, in some aspect of their lives.
Source: Ottawa Public Health, Mental Health of Ottawa’s Black Community
22% of Black people in Ottawa report food insecurity, compared to 14% of the overall population.
Source: The Ottawa Food Bank, Hunger Report 2022
25.5% of HIV cases in Canada are among Black people (as of 2019);
Source: Public Health Agency of Canada, HIV in Canada—surveillance report, 2019
25% of discrimination complaints received by the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 2016 relate to race, colour, national or ethnic origin, and/or religion.
43% of hate crimes in 2017 were motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity.
Source: Government of Canada
There are endless numbers like the above – cold stats shining objective light on the fundamental inequities of our society. We each have a part in changing this. Recognizing Black History Month will not, on its own, create great social change—but it is an important recognition and acknowledgement that we can all do better.