CCR Anti-Racism Policy
The Canadian Council for Refugees recognizes that racism is systemic in Canadian society. Racism is more than obvious racially motivated acts such as violence or segregation of ethnoracial groups. It is embedded in the dominant culture and social institutions in a way that is so pervasive that it is often invisible.
Racism also affects everyone. It affects the perception of the world of those who knowingly or unknowingly carry around the baggage of racist attitudes or stereotypes which make them prejudge individuals and situations. These perceptions lead to behaviours that validate and propagate racism. Racism affects the everyday reality of people of colour.
Racism, like sexism, causes pain and humiliation and has far-reaching consequences. It reinforces xenophobia, increasing the obstacles to participation faced by refugees and immigrants. It prevents equality in opportunity and access to asylum, immigration opportunities, education, jobs, housing, health care and social services, and limits participation in decision-making bodies. The CCR recognizes that women of colour face specific additional barriers.
CCR ANTI-RACISM POLICY:
The CCR is an organization committed to:
* The elimination of racism and all forms of discrimination by identifying and eliminating the barriers that may prevent refugees and immigrants from participating fully in Canadian society;
* The principles of equity for all races, languages, faiths and cultures reflected in the organization's policies, procedures and relations with staff, members and the society; where the communities that we serve, members of our organization, staff of our member agencies and those with whom we do business see themselves valued and reflected within the organization;
* Increasing awareness of and appreciation for the racial, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity of Canada;
* Modelling anti-racism practices to its member agencies and offering opportunities for training and education in anti-racism;
* Promoting through all of its processes, practices and structures, an environment which is free of discrimination and bias.
The CCR acknowledges its responsibility to:
* Provide an environment which is free of racism, sexism, discrimination and bias, where all individuals are treated with respect and dignity;
* Provide an anti-racism policy that outlines the organization's commitments to and expectations of its members, together with a complaint procedure to address any perceived violations.
As an organization that is dedicated to the rights of refugees in Canada and internationally and to the settlement of refugees and immigrants in Canada, the CCR's membership should reflect Canada's refugee and immigrant communities.
As representation from the refugee and immigrant communities has long been a challenge within the organization, the following measures will be adopted to achieve this aim:
a) The CCR will reach out to refugee and immigrant groups and actively seek to attract them as active members within the CCR. Such outreach and recruitment work will be part of the responsibility of Executive members.
b) In addition, each CCR working group will develop outreach, recruitment and integration strategies to increase refugee and immigrant participation in the working groups.
c) Rates of membership dues will be established and administered with flexibility in order to facilitate participation from refugee and immigrant communities.
d) Refugee and immigrant participation at conferences will be encouraged through active publicizing of the event among refugee and immigrant communities in the city and through free registration where appropriate.
e) The CCR will research and develop other policies and initiatives to encourage and effect greater participation of refugees and immigrants from all parts of Canada (eg scholarships, travel subsidies)
Recognizing the principles of equity and the organization's commitment to increasing appreciation of Canada's diversity, the following guidelines will be followed to ensure that there is representation of refugees, immigrants and people of colour at all levels of the organization:
a) Participation of refugees, immigrants and people of colour will be integrated in the nomination and election of the Executive Committee.
b) Participation of refugees, immigrants and people of colour will be integrated in the nomination and election of working group chairs.
c) Introductory sessions will be offered at conferences to orient first-time participants and make the functioning of the organization transparent.
d) The CCR will continue to adapt its structures and functioning to promote refugee and immigrant participation.
e) All members will receive a copy of the anti-racism policy.
To ensure that decisions are made equitably and reflect the organization's commitment to anti-racism and equality, decision-making processes should be transparent. The following guidelines will be followed when decisions are to be made:
a) Representation of refugees, immigrants and people of colour should be considered when organizing consultation workshops and panels and when selecting CCR participants for meetings, press conferences, missions, etc. Every effort will be taken to ensure that financial considerations are not a barrier to participation.
b) Full participation of all members at meetings will be facilitated through measures acknowledging the cultural and linguistic diversity.
c) Co-chairs and regional contacts of all working groups will be responsible for ensuring that appropriate measures are developed to promote inclusiveness in the resolutions process. Such measures may include, but are not limited to, a formalized system of support and mentoring; pre-consultation meetings and telephone contacts to explain the process and facilitate in the development of resolutions; and ensuring that advisors are available at the consultations.
d) The Anti-Racism Core Group will be consulted in the development and amendment CCR policies or bylaws.
Advocacy and Anti-racism Education:
In view of the organization's commitment to advocacy and anti-racism education, and recognizing the need for ongoing education, the CCR will:
a) Analyze government policies for racially-biased intent or effect.
b) Include anti-racism analysis in its representations to government and in its communication with media.
c) Address anti-racism issues at working group meetings.
d) Hold workshops at conferences on issues relating to racism.
e) Network with other groups committed to anti-racism.
f) Develop and maintain active links with ethno-racial communities through networking and active solicitation of their participation, views and concerns.
g) Monitor and respond to negative media portrayal of refugees and immigrants.
h) Undertake proactive media work to demonstrate why Canada must protect refugees and welcome immigrants.
i) Support members and other organizations involved in public education and seek opportunities to extend the CCR's own programme of public education.
j) Develop an anti-racism "convention" and encourage member organizations to endorse it.
In keeping with the organization's commitment to employment equity and promoting anti-racism, the following practices are recommended in the various selection processes and other human resource areas:
a) In all hirings the CCR will seek candidates from refugee and immigrant communities and from people of colour. With equal qualifications the CCR will hire preferentially individuals with a refugee or immigrant background or people of colour, ensuring representation at all levels of the organization.
In keeping with the CCR's commitment to anti-racism, the following guidelines are provided in the area of communication:
a) All communications, both external and internal, will be consistent with and promote the organization's anti-racism policies.
b) The Anti-Racism Core Group will be consulted on all written public communications dealing with issues of racism or where an anti-racism perspective might be called before finalization.
c) The CCR will, in all its publications, policies and communications with members, other settlement and advocacy organizations and the general public, use language and images which are inclusive, reflecting Canada's racial and ethnic diversity.
For the purpose of this policy, racial discrimination is defined as the differential treatment of an individual or group that is not based on individual or group performance, but arises from racial-group membership.
Racial harassment is defined as unwelcome attention of a racially oriented nature, including remarks, jokes, gestures, slurs, innuendoes, or other behaviour, verbal or physical, which is directed at an individual or group by another person or group who knows, or ought reasonably to know, that this attention is unwanted.
Systemic racism is defined as racism which is supported by institutional and other deep-rooted structures and attitudes, and is based on the understanding that group membership determines that an individual can be treated differentially.
If racial discrimination or racial harassment is believed to have occurred, the following procedure should be followed. The incident may involve a staff member, a member of the CCR, or an individual of a member agency.
While Step 1 is desirable, it is optional and not mandatory, as victim/witnesses of racism and racist behaviour should not be forced to expose themselves to risk in addition to the humiliation of experiencing racist behaviour.
Step 1: The complainant and/or witness will ask the alleged offender to stop the behaviour and will point it out. The offender will be given an opportunity to stop the offensive behaviour, and must be informed of the CCR's policy and the reasons for it. If the problem is not resolved through the request, the complainant and/or witness will make a written record of the incident, including date(s), name(s) and as full an account as possible.
Step 2: A complaint can be made in writing or by phone call to a regional representative, a member of the CCR Executive, a member of the Anti-racism Core Group or to any member of the staff at the Montreal office. Such contact should be made within 3 months of the incident. In instances of systemic racism, the process would start with Step 2; a letter of complaint would be written to any of the above-mentioned parties, outlining the racism being challenged (e.g. few CCR panelists are refugees, immigrants or persons of colour).
Step 3: Following this complaint, an investigation will be done by a Mediation team (consisting of an Executive member and a representative from the Anti-racism Core Group or designate), formed within 10 working days of the receipt of the complaint. The alleged perpetrator (or organization or structure concerned, in the case of systemic racism) must be advised of the complaint, where appropriate. The investigation will be completed within 20 working days of formation of the committee, and a recommendation will be made to the CCR executive.
Step 4: Based on the recommendation of the Mediation team, the following actions can be taken:
a) Disciplinary letter to the alleged perpetrator or organization (systemic racism);
b) Notification of employer if perpetrator is employed by a member agency (in the case of an individual);
c) Disciplinary and/or remedial action; (see CCR By-laws (6a) which calls for expulsion of member "if the member's statements, policies or activities are contrary to the stated goals and policies of the CCR".)
d) In the case of systemic racism within the CCR, a plan to address the problem;
e) Dismissal of the complaint, with an explanation to the complainant.
One year after the adoption of this policy and thereafter every two years, the CCR will audit the functioning of the organization to monitor compliance with this policy and to ensure that the complaints mechanism is accessible and effective. The Anti-Racism Core Group and at least 3 members of the Executive will be responsible jointly for conducting the audit. This will involve looking at:
a) representation by refugees, immigrants and people of colour on panels, Executive, working group chairs and general attendance at meetings;
b) membership recruitment;
c) survey of members;
d) existence of supporting policies and structures within the CCR, in member organizations and commitment to CCR policy;
e) number of workshops held at conferences on issues related to racism and attendance at these workshops.
f) the existence of the anti-racism convention and the number of member organizations endorsing it.
The CCR has developed an Anti-Racism Convention to go with the Policy. All CCR members are encouraged to sign on to the Convention.