Canada is a ethnically and racially diverse society, with more than four in ten of the country’s population either first or second generation in the country. In comparative terms, Canada is among the most welcoming of countries when it comes to acceptance of such diversity. The latest Gallup World poll puts Canada at the top of 140 countries in citizens rating their community as a good place for individuals for ethnic and racial minorities. And in historical terms, race relations in Canada are by far the most positive in the country’s history, a far cry from previous eras which included explicit discrimination against those who were not white Protestant establishment, be it Irish, Chinese, Jewish, South Asian, Black, and of course the land’s Indigenous Peoples.
But in 2019, racism and discrimination against those who look different remains an underlying reality in Canada. People with racialized identities and backgrounds face ongoing challenges, both at a personal level and at an institutional level.
What is the current state of race relations in Canada? The answer is by no means a single story. Some see a positive story of dramatic changes from previous generations, the expanding inclusion of Canadians from different races in all walks of life, employment equity policies, and the establishment of anti-racism offices in governments. Others see a negative story of persistent systemic racism that continues to oppress the lives and opportunities of racialized individuals and communities. Both realities exist, and perspectives are based on personal experience, anecdote, media reporting and political agendas. What is missing is empirically-based credible evidence, that can serve as indicators of the current situation and how progress is or is not being made over time. This includes measures of the collective beliefs, attitudes and experiences of Canadians both racialized and other.
The Environics Institute, in partnership with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, recently published a new national survey to measure Canadians' attitudes and experiences as they relate to race relations and discrimination in this country.