Immigration; Everyone’s Rights

Systemic racism is a form of racism that is embedded in the laws and policies of an institution, organization, or society. For a country like Canada, which was colonized by the Europeans and had its indigenous people oppressed beyond measure, racism is a very familiar concept in its history. And even though it has been outlawed, systemic racism continues to this day.

A fraction of the black Canadians are descendants of the African slaves who were brought to and freed in Canada, and another fraction are descendants of the slaves who escaped from the United States. Since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been a large influx of immigrants into Canada from different countries. Immigrants come to Canada because it offers better opportunities, such as healthcare and education, but nearly 200 years later, they are still discriminated against by Canadian systems that claim to be welcoming to newcomers.

In the mid-19th century, Canadian medical schools did not process students’ applications if they discovered they were black. They rejected their application on that premise alone, regardless of the student’s grades. And in 2016, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto — the highest ranked university in Canada — only accepted one black student into her class of 2016. In 2017, they created the Black Student Application Program, a program aimed at easing and increasing the number of black students’ applications by breaking the barriers that impede black students from applying. While this seems like a step in the right direction, it also indirectly confirms that up until now, there have been biases in the system against black people, and that instead of seeking to address and completely remove those biases, they intend to create other pathways to circumvent them. So it would seem that black immigrants and their families have a right to an education, but just barely.

These biases and racist policies against immigrants also impact them when they seek employment. Because Canada does not acknowledge some non-western universities, when extremely skilled or educated immigrants immigrate to Canada, they are pressured to take low-paying and physically demanding jobs that are beneath their skill set or educational arsenal. As a result, this systemic discrimination has resulted in immigrants performing low-paying and minimal-skill jobs while higher-skilled jobs and jobs with better salaries are performed by white people.

Additionally, this discrimination occurs in healthcare. There have been records of unfair treatment, delayed treatments, and erroneous diagnoses as a result of negative stereotypes towards immigrants in Canada. Discrimination in the Canadian healthcare system is expressed in different forms: refusing to carry the patient along in the management process because of the belief that they may not be educated enough; healthcare workers becoming irritated when immigrants ask for their beliefs or cultures to be respected, for example, refusing to listen to the patient’s concerns because of their accents or manner of speaking; and many more.

Many times, these biases endanger the lives of patients and cause consequences that could have been prevented. Furthermore, in the long run, these harmful practices reduce the confidence of immigrants in the healthcare system and can prevent them from presenting to certain facilities when they have serious health challenges.


This goes to show that the racist policies created by the colonizers still exist in almost all tenets of Canadian society and that they still negatively affect immigrants. And until these


policies are abolished, immigrants have not been given equal rights in Canada. All humans are equal, regardless of their status as immigrants or citizens. All immigrants should be treated equally too, regardless of where they are immigrating from — whether it is New York City or Brikama in The Gambia — as long as they are legal immigrants, they should be treated with the same amount of dignity and be given the same opportunities.

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