As will become evident in the literature review and in the results of the present study, the issue of terminology is a contentious one in race relations/anti-racism work. Therefore, it is important that we clarify the language used in this report. In 1998, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) put out a request for proposals to investigate “race relations training in Canada”, to examine what are the “best practices in race relations/anti-racism training” with a view to determining the feasibility of developing “standards for race relations/anti-racism training. The League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada was pleased to be commissioned to conduct this study, and to find that there was consistency between its own anti-racism perspective and that of the CRRF. That is, although the CRRF was using the two terms interchangeably, it was clear that they wanted us to focus on programs that were designed to move people towards anti-racist organizational and societal change. Such training programs involve imparting knowledge and increasing awareness of racism in Canada, and also include an analysis of power differentials and strategies to break down the barriers created by systemic discrimination. The goal of race relations/anti-racism training is not only to improve patterns of interaction and create harmonious relations between people who perceive themselves to be racially different (i.e. to achieve better race relations), but also to change attitudes and behaviour, as well as to effect anti-racist organizational change, thereby eliminating racism in all its forms (i.e. to achieve real equality, equity and social justice).
So although it is possible to demonstrate examples of race relations training and anti-racism training that are different in their goals and emphasis, we are using the terms interchangeably (as many do), recognizing that both the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada and the CRRF come to this work from a clearly articulated anti-racism perspective.
It was obvious as early as the 1960’s that anti-discrimination legislation was far from effective in dealing with increasing concerns of racism in Canadian society. It was an awakening for those who had hidden behind the myth that Canada had a tradition of fairness. Consequently, exposing racism in Canada continued for the next forty years.
y the 1980’s historians, human rights activists, sociologists and others were taking a second look at Canada’s history. Hill and Schiff (1988) criticized the claim that Canada had a good human rights record. Ten years later, the question of racism in Canada was considered fact. Satzewich (1998) stated that “Until the 1960’s, racism was a fairly blatant and obvious aspect of Canadian society. Racism played a role in shaping individual attitudes, policies and institutional arrangements in the economy, the political system and civil society” (p. 13).
In the 1970’s the federal government initiated the Multiculturalism Policy, as well as a number of other programs, as one response to Canada’s growing and diverse population but there were also other developments in the early 1970’s. Hate propaganda and the promotion of hatred against identifiable groups became a criminal offence in Canada in 1970. In the same year, Canada ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination.
In 1982, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms entrenched multiculturalism and equality rights in the Constitution and guaranteed equal protection and benefit of the law, freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour and religion. Over the next several years there were amendments to various Human Rights Codes that provided the Commission the power to monitor and enforce those rights. At the conclusion of the decade, the Canadian Multiculturalism Act (1988) was passed.
uring this time, various provincial and municipal governments created race relations committees and divisions within their administrative structures. The Multiculturalism Act gave federal government institutions responsibility to implement multicultural organizational change. The Department of Multiculturalism provided programming not just for community groups but for “mainstream” institutions such as police, healthcare facilities, education, social service and the arts to develop and implement multiculturalism policies and programs towards equality of access and service delivery. The Act also explicitly recognized the special status of Aboriginal Peoples.
During the late 1970's and early 1980's, research on the topic of race relations training came under the rubric of "Multicultural Education." Early studies by Jack Kehoe (1981), Barb Thomas and Charles Novogrodsky (1983), Karen Mock and Vandra Masemann (1983, 1984, 1990), and Avebury, (1987) to name a few, identified existing course outlines and training programs, primarily in schools, universities, unions, policing and other institutions. Charles Ungerleider and Lesley Sherlock completed an extensive study of race relations training in 1988.