The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists-Canada Statement Addressing Systemic Racism in Canada's Refugee Support System: A Call for Equity and Long-Term Solutions


July 19, 2023

The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) in Canada is calling on the Canadian federal, provincial, and municipal governments to end what we see as systemic racism in Canada's refugee support systems. Canada is renowned for its commitment to welcoming refugees and supporting those fleeing conflict and persecution. However, recent events have shed light on a concerning disparity in the level of support offered to refugees from different regions.

Specifically, a stark contrast emerges when comparing the overwhelming assistance extended to refugees from Syria and Ukraine with the inadequate support provided to refugees from Africa, the Caribbean, and other predominantly Black countries. CBTU Canada is NOT suggesting that the support given to the Syrian and Ukrainian refugees was inappropriate. However, we would argue that the disparity, coupled with the lack of long-term funding, exposes a clear case of systemic racism within the Canadian government's approach to refugee support.

While refugees arriving from Syria and Ukraine in Canada were met with an outpouring of support, the same can not be said about refugees from countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and other predominantly Black countries. Black and other racialized people are facing disheartening challenges that are inhumane. Reports indicate that when shelters reached capacity, refugees from these regions had no choice but to sleep on the sidewalks, exposed to the elements, and without access to essential services. This shocking contrast highlights the alarming extent to which the government's funding conveniently "ran out" in regards to the refugees from predominantly Black countries. The Canadian government's failure to adequately support refugees from African, Caribbean, and other predominantly Black countries indicates systemic racism. The differential treatment, reflected in the lack of funding and resources, perpetuates inequality and reinforces harmful stereotypes. It is imperative to recognize that this systemic discrimination extends beyond individual actions and policies, reaching the system's very structure designed to support refugees.

Canada must rectify this injustice and ensure that all refugees, regardless of origin or ethnicity, receive equity in support and opportunities. The government must commit to long-term funding that specifically addresses the unique needs of refugees from African, Caribbean, and other predominantly Black countries. This funding should be distinct from that allocated to refugees from different regions, considering the specific challenges these individuals face due to systemic racism. Beyond financial support, the federal government must provide long-term Canadian resettlement and employment initiatives tailored to refugees from African, Caribbean, and other predominantly Black countries. These initiatives should foster integration, provide language training, and support skills development, ensuring that refugees have the tools to rebuild their lives and contribute meaningfully to Canadian society.

Furthermore, the Canadian government needs to reevaluate its allocation of public funds. Rather than spending vast amounts on foreign military interventions, reallocating resources towards supporting and resettling refugees from African, Caribbean, and other predominantly Black countries is a just and morally responsible choice. By prioritizing humanitarian efforts, Canada can demonstrate its commitment to upholding human rights, equity, and justice.


The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) in Canada calls on Canada's federal government to address the systemic racism entrenched in the Canadian government's treatment of refugees from African, Caribbean, and other predominantly Black countries with immediate and appropriate action. All levels of government must play their role by acknowledging and rectifying this disparity by providing long-term funding, distinct from other refugee support initiatives, safe housing, and basic human rights for the people who have already faced far too much violence and harm. Additionally, Canadian resettlement and employment programs must be tailored to the unique needs of refugees from these regions, fostering their successful integration into society. Lastly, redirecting public funds from foreign military interventions to support and resettlement efforts will be a concrete step towards a more equitable and compassionate Canada. Only through these concerted efforts can Canada fulfill its moral obligation of providing equitable support and opportunities to all refugees who seek sanctuary within its borders.


The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) Canada Executive Board

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Sharon Lovelady-Hall, CBTU Region 1 Director

Andrea McCormack, Secretary 

Nina Manning, Treasurer

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Eugene Williams, Men’s Committee Chair 

LaNette Murphy,Youth Committee Chair  

Juanita Forde, Younger Workers Committee Chair


[email protected]




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African Refugee Support


Dear CBTU Family and CBTU friends,

Enclosed are the details for the next Shared Closet event in support of the African Refugees in Canada.

The event will take place at the OPSEU Union Hall, located at 31 Wellesley Ave, Toronto, on the dates and times shown on the bulletin. Please join CBTU as we come together to assist those within our community who need our support the most. We are asking CBTU members, their families, and supporters for donations of time, finances, gently used clothing, toiletries, and more.

Please join CBTU and our alli Shared Closet as we actively work to improve living and working conditions within the Black community. 

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In solidarity

CBTU - Canada

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