Blacks have been residents in Canada since 1783 when Black Loyalists settled in Nova Scotia after the American Revolution. Surprisingly many of the challenges
they faced way back then are quite similar to the challenges that are still being faced today more than 200 years later. Black Canadians have overcome various obstacles and have achieved substantial achievements. From Jackie Robinson, the abolishment of slavery, the right to vote, Portia White, Oscar Peterson and the list goes on and on. And while we should definitely acknowledge the achievements there are also so many obstacles and issues that plague the Black community today. Here’s a look at some of the struggles that Blacks in Canada face.
Lack of Opportunities: When the economy was thriving Blacks still had a higher rate of unemployment in comparison to Whites. Now that the economy is in such disarray Blacks have a huge disadvantage and don’t have as many opportunities as their white counterparts. For the most part 70% of Whites in the workforce attribute their success to networking and knowing the right people. They admit that more than half the jobs they’ve obtained in their lives have been from an insider they’ve known. Blacks on the other hand do not have the same experience but in fact they have the third highest unemployment rate among all visible minorities with 11.5%. In addition they face discrimination based on skin colour, accents, religion and cultural affiliation, just to name a few. On top of that if they do manage to get a job they still face many of the same issues in the workplace and they must also deal with a wage gap. Black men make only 82% of the wage that a White man will make and Black women make 80% of what Black men make.
Breakdown of the Family: The majority of black families in Canada are not the “ideal” mom, dad and kids; instead a black family normally always consists of a mother and possibly an active father or grandparent. Black men for whatever reason are failing their families and children. Illegitimacy increased from 23.6% in 1963 to nearly 70% of all black children today. A number of factors can be attributed to the rise but many believe that the increase is based on the foundation of governmental assistance that gives fathers a way out and gives mothers the ability to count on someone other than a husband. In addition since many Black fathers are not present in their child’s lives a vicious cycle of pain, abandonment and the lack of a father figure emerges which leads to many other issues down the road.
Education: The number of Blacks that are graduating high school and attending college are higher than ever before, more than 50% of Black seniors go on to post secondary education. Unfortunately only 26% percent of them will actually graduate with a BA or Diploma. The question still remains why is education still so unreachable to Black Canadians? The issues really all begin in the realms of the inner city schools and tracking and encouraging student achievement and progress. There are too many teachers and officials who are only concerned with pay raises instead of student performance. If a Black child within the public school sector wants to achieve and wants to go on to make it beyond secondary school; they must decide for themselves and have extra determination in order to achieve their goals.
Crime: There has been an astonishing increase of Blacks being incarcerated from 1990 to 2010 and for the most part these individuals are men. In Canada Blacks make up only 2.2% of the population but they account for 9.12% of the overall prison population. Sadly young men are entering the prison system at a very young age and therefore spending key years of their lives incarcerated which in turn is delaying their development as responsible adults.
Poverty: Since Blacks settled in Canada they've faced the issue of poverty. It is the longest standing and most serious issue within the Black community that really sets the stage for everything else. Poverty can be attributed to stress, health problems, low education, crime and lack of opportunities. In 2010 approximately 25% of Blacks in Canada lived below the poverty line.
Blacks within Canada face a huge fight everyday through work, family, poverty, education and the list goes on. In light of the many challenges it is essential that the Black community gel together and strengthen itself. The testimonials of so many exceptional Black Canadians that have come before is proof of our strength and agility. The Black community must continue to overcome the trials and tribulations and fight for the things that are important: equality, opportunity and success.
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