Some of these stories make it clear that as a society, we still struggle with issues of equity and diversity. They show us that sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and a host of other isms and phobias are alive and well in Canada. These incidents highlight the need for individuals and organizations to redouble their efforts and commitment to social justice.
As 2016 begins, we wanted to highlight some of the positive equity and diversity-related stories of 2015 that show the gains we've made. While none of these incidents have taken us across the finish line, they have inched us forward on the road to social justice.
From our perspective, here are some of the notable accomplishments or incidents that we think made Canada a better place in 2015:
1. Ontario colleges approve policy to address violence against women
2. Toronto Life magazine publishes an article by Desmond Cole on racial profiling
3. Ontario government launches its violence against women campaign
The Action Plan also includes stronger workplace safety legislation that would require employers to investigate sexual harassment, better funding for survivor support, and measures to ensure that assault cases are prosecuted more fairly.
4. Toronto elite come together to oppose carding
5. Black Lives Matter makes a mark in Canada
6. Ontario government introduces carding legislation
The government maintains that the regulations would establish consistent rules to protect the Charter rights of Ontarians during voluntary interactions with the police. While police chiefs across the province defend carding, the evidence from the Toronto Police Service shows that the random and arbitrary stopping, questioning and collection of personal data occurs most frequently for Black and Brown men.
The community is currently being consulted and their input should be considered in the draft brought forward for second reading in the Ontario legislature.
7. Greater diversity in the federal legislature and cabinet
In November 2015, Canada's federal election candidates included more racialized people (visible minorities) than in the past four elections. It was also the year in which Canadians elected more racialized MPs -- 47 in total, making up 14% of the current parliament.
While these gains are notable, the conversations surrounding the announcement of the new Cabinet ministers was also of note. It had some asking, "Could this be the first truly merit-based cabinet in Canada's history?" But it also had some questioning gender equity and saying, "Trudeau cabinet should be based on merit, not gender."
8. Long-form census reinstated
The return of the long-form census allows governments and organizations to better understand the changing diversity of the Canadian population, including its age, racial, ethnic, religious and linguistic composition, and offer the programs and services are needed.
9. Ontario premier says race lens needed
10. RCMP Commissioner admits there are racists on the force
In response to these comments, RCMP Commissioner Paulson told the audience, "I understand there are racists in my force. I don't want them to be in my police force."
11. First transgender judge appointed to provincial court in Manitoba
12. Prime Minister Trudeau commits to implementing all of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
As Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau restated his commitment to implementing the Commission's 94 recommendations, made prior to the federal election.