After a week of unrest in both Canada and the United States, the prime minister has spoken out about anti-black racism in Canada. On Monday, Justin Trudeau acknowledged the protests that have been taking place all over the world, and addressed the issue of racism in Canada. “We must do better,” Trudeau said, and promised that he is “listening.”

During his daily COVID-19 press conference on Monday, June 1, the Prime Minister began by addressing the anti-racism solidarity protests that took place across Canada and the United States last week.

He started by saying, “For far too many Canadians, the images and stories out of the United States are all too familiar.”

“As a country, we can’t pretend racism doesn’t exist here. Anti-Black racism is real. Unconscious bias is real. Systemic discrimination is real. And they happen here in Canada,” he acknowledged.

The PM noted that thousands of Canadians had joined peaceful protests over the weekend, in cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, and that they were “sending the message that they would never tolerate injustice.”

Despite many of these protests focusing on the death of George Floyd, a man killed in the United States after a police officer knelt on his neck, Trudeau acknowledged that Canada is not guilt-free.

“We need to do better,” he said. “We need to work in our daily lives to counter discrimination, intolerance.”

Before ending his statement about the ongoing events, the prime minister continued, “To young Black Canadians, I hear you when you say that you are anxious. I want you to know that I am listening and your government will always stand together.”

“I hear your anger, concern, and pain; I hear you when you say this brings back painful experiences of racism,” he said.

Trudeau’s statement follows a weekend of protests in both Canada and the United States, as demonstrators have marched in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as to speak out against anti-black racism and police impunity.

Some marches in Canada were in honour of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who died after falling from her 24th floor Toronto balcony. Previously, her family alleged that she was pushed by police. Since then, their lawyer has retracted these claims and are waiting for official evidence before making any conclusions.*

In Canada, marches took place in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, and an Ottawa demonstration is scheduled for Friday, June 5.


*This article has been updated.

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