June 1, 2020

The murder of George Floyd was a reprehensible act of wanton police violence. It is difficult to watch the chaos in the United States unfold over the past few days without a feeling of mixed shock, horror, and ultimately, guilt.

Canada is not the United States. In times of turmoil, we can—and do—repeat this to ourselves as a comforting refrain, to avoid coming to grips with a very uncomfortable reality. Racism exists in Canada. The fact that we do not all experience it, does not diminish the gravity of its existence.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a marked rise in hate crimes against Canadians of Asian descent as they are scapegoated and blamed for a situation beyond anyone’s control. The past few years have seen multiple acts of terrorism perpetrated by white men against women and Muslim Canadians. We know that Indigenous Canadians are consistently policed differently than Canadians of European origin. Countless studies have been done to show that even something as simple as applying for a job is more difficult if you have an “ethnic” sounding name.

The BC Building Trades condemns racism in all its forms—no one should be forced to worry about their physical or economic safety because of who they are.

Words matter. So do actions. How we talk about race, and how we organize the institutions of the state to police ourselves and manage the economy have a profound impact on the way many Canadians experience their daily lives.

We need to be better.

Andrew Mercier,
Executive Director
BC Building Trades Council