Majority of respondents have experienced discrimination: H-P study
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Kristin Crane and Mark Nonkes of the Huron County Immigration Partnership have painted a troubling picture of discrimination in Huron and Perth Counties with the findings of an emperical study.
The pair presented the results of the study, which was conducted with the help of the University of Western Ontario’s social science department, at Huron County Council’s Nov. 17 meeting.
Of the counties’ shared population of 135,800, 1,800 people are Indigenous, 10,900 are immigrants and 3,600 are visible minorities, according to Statistics Canada data from 2016. The survey was conducted over the telephone with just under 600 participants spread over both counties. Of the participants, there were 296 first-generation immigrants and visible minorities, 236 white non-immigrants and 62 members of Indigenous communities.
Over 80 per cent of the Indigenous community members surveyed reported experiencing discrimination in one or more contexts in the past three years. Over 68 per cent of immigrants and visible minorities reported discriminatory experiences during that same period, compared to 48.7 per cent of the white non-immigrants surveyed.
Over 86 per cent of the Indigenous respondents who experienced discrimination have lived in the region for less than 10 years, compared to 78.6 per cent of immigrants and visible minorities and 51.9 per cent of white non-immigrants. Those who have lived in the region for more than a decade reported slightly lower numbers, including 78.7 per cent of Indigenous respondents, 59.2 per cent of immigrants and visible minorities and 47.8 per cent of white non-immigrants.
The experience of discrimination by immigrants and visible minorities jumped ahead of those from Indigenous communities when it came to applying for a job or a promotion. Over 43 per cent of immigrants and visible minorities reported discrimination in this setting, compared to 40.3 per cent of Indigenous respondents and 28 per cent of white non-immigrants.
At work, with supervisors, co-workers or clients, 53.2 per cent of Indigenous respondents claimed discrimination had occurred, compared to 41.8 per cent of immigrants and visible minorities and 23.7 per cent of white non-immigrants. Those figures were similar to reports of incidents in a store, bank or restaurant: 53.2 per cent of Indigenous respondents, 37.7 per cent of immigrants and visible minorities and 21.6 per cent of white non-immigrants.
Over 61 per cent of Indigenous respondents reported experiencing discrimination while using libraries, community centres or arenas, compared to 30.6 per cent of immigrants and visible minorities and 15.7 per cent of white non-immigrants, while 59,7 per cent of Indigenous respondents reported incidents at public areas like parks, compared to 35 per cent of immigrants and visible minorities and 21.2 per cent of white non-immigrants.
When it comes to the perceived basis for discrimination, nearly half (48.3 per cent) of immigrants and visible minorities felt the incident was based on their race or skin colour, while 36 per cent felt it could be tied back to ethnicity or culture. For Indigenous respondents, 42 per cent felt discrimination was due to their Indigenous identity, compared to 34 per cent who felt it was due to ethnicity or culture. In white non-immigrants, nearly 37 per cent said their feelings of discrimination were based on gender, while 33.3 per cent felt it was tied to their physical appearance.
Nearly 70 per cent of immigrants and visible minorities who experienced discrimination said it came in the form of inappropriate jokes and 53.2 per cent said it was derogatory language. Over 56 per cent of Indigenous respondents said they had experienced discrimination by way of inappropriate jokes, but that number jumped to nearly 70 per cent when it came to derogatory language.
Of the white non-immigrants who experienced discrimination, 63.8 per cent said it came in the form of inappropriate jokes, compared to 48.6 per cent who cited derogatory language.
Nonkes and Crane offered a trio of recommendations at the conclusion of their presentation. The first is to encourage victims of discrimination to come forward.
Nonkes said this can be difficult for some people if the behaviour doesn’t necessarily cross any legal lines, and suggested reporting discriminatory experiences through a publicly-provided resource, such as the website reportinghate.ca.
The second recommendation is to support mental health organizations at which victims of discrimination can develop coping strategies that are contextually appropriate. The third is the development of anti-discrimination activities, working in collaboration with community organizations, to target workplaces and public spaces. These sessions would include bystander training for allies, as well as the development of communication materials to counter stereotypes and assisting organizations to address discriminatory policies and practices.
The pair also recommended fostering solutions-oriented conversations with municipalities, community organizations and others, reinvigorating the Newcomer Advisory Council, promoting initiatives to report, recognize, prevent and reduce discrimination and to acquire additional research data about experiences of discrimination.
They said that addressing incidents of discrimination in the region will contribute to the overall quality of life by fostering belonging and inclusion, increase social well-being and retention and added that experiences of discrimination may contribute to outbound migration.
Goderich Mayor John Grace praised the report, adding that incidents of discrimination appear to be very prevalent in Huron County and need to be addressed. He also said that the growth of the county’s communities and industries will only happen through increased diversity.
Central Huron Deputy-Mayor Dave Jewitt agreed, calling the report “sobering” and adding that clearly the county has some work to do to ensure it is a welcoming community. Prior to reading the report, he said, he would have said Huron County is a very welcoming place. The report made him reconsider that stance.
Council accepted the report and Crane said she and Nonkes plan to follow up with presentations to municipal councils in the coming months.