Friends and colleagues,
It is my pleasure to share with you Build back better: The Canadian Human Rights Commission’s 2020 Annual Report to Parliament, which was tabled this week in the House of Commons and the Senate.
2020 has tested the resolve of human rights organizations more than any year in recent memory. While we have seen great moments of community and solidarity this past year, we have also seen how COVID-19 has exposed and amplified the chronic gaps in our social fabric and amplified the inequality experienced by millions of people in Canada.
It is why the work we do together, as Canadian human rights defenders and advocates has never been more important. It is why access to human rights justice has never been more critical. Over the course of 2020, and with that in mind, we implemented a number of pilot projects to accelerate and improve the way we process complaints. We were also determined to be a national voice for those in Canada hit hardest by the pandemic.
The pandemic has expanded the circle of vulnerability, amplifying long-standing issues of hate, intolerance and xenophobia. Particularly, we have seen an alarming rise in anti-Asian racism incidents across Canada that have left many Canadians of Asian-decent feeling unsafe in their own communities. The pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing economic and social inequalities. Many women, children, people with disabilities, older people, Indigenous peoples, Black people, people of colour, single parents, members of the LGBTQ2SI+ community, and people in our correctional institutions are being put at an even greater disadvantage.
Our commitment and resilience were called upon again in May when the disturbing video of the killing of George Floyd in the United States sparked outrage and protest around the world. This collective cry of “enough is enough” prompted a renewed conversation on anti-Black racism in Canada and the need to confront and dismantle the structural racism that is deeply rooted within our society.
As most of you already know, in recent years, the Commission has been undergoing an organization-wide process of internal evaluation to strengthen our work, and to take a closer look at how racism or racial bias may influence our processes, our decisions, and the way we serve people in Canada. This 2020 Annual Report highlights some of our anti-racism efforts over the last year, including the release of our Draft Anti-Racism Action Plan. Many of you have been there with us from the beginning, urging us on and guiding us along this journey. We are grateful to have you as trusted partners in this important and ongoing work.
Others among you have been instrumental in helping us as we continued to lay the groundwork for the Commission’s important new responsibilities under the Accessible Canada Act, the Pay Equity Act and the National Housing Strategy Act. We will continue to rely on your insight and partnership in helping us reach our audiences as we move forward with the next phases of these new roles.
Throughout the events and challenges of 2020, I was inspired and encouraged each day by the fierce dedication of the team of people at the Commission. They too, like all Canadians, have been in the midst of great upheaval and personal crises for over a year now. But they have remained steadfast in their commitment to helping people in Canada seek human rights justice. I am forever grateful to them all, as I am to you, my friends and colleagues.
As we move forward into COVID-recovery, you can count on our continued support, our friendship and our fearless advocacy.
We hope you enjoy our Annual Report, including the powerful feature stories, and kindly share it with your networks.
Marie-Claude Landry, Ad. E.