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P.E.I. social advocates decry systemic violence, poverty

Mary Boyd
Mary Boyd is with the MacKIllop Centre for Social Justice.

The MacKillop Centre for Social Justice and the P.E.I. Coalition for a Poverty Eradication Strategy are adding their voices to the growing call to address systemic violence and poverty.

Recently released data shows exceptionally high rates of poverty across the country in Black, First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities, says Mary Boyd of the MacKIllop Centre for Social Justice.

Campaign 2000 has been tracking rates of child poverty in Canada for 30 years. While they are unacceptably high given the federal government made a promise to eradicate child poverty by 2000, the numbers grow exponentially across the country for Black and Indigenous children, says Boyd.

According to custom census data tabulation from 2016, the latest data available and supplied by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, status and non-status First Nations children living on and off reserve experience astoundingly high child poverty rates.

Census 2016 data also shows that in Prince Edward Island and across the country, rates of child poverty in Black communities are higher. P.E.I.’s overall child poverty rate taken from 2017 tax filer data is 18.5 per cent, which is equal to the national average, while the census rate for black children is 33 per cent, which is three percentage points higher than the national average.

The census figures place the rate for Indigenous peoples on P.E.I. as follows:

  • Inuit – 43 per cent;
  • Non-status First Nations – 42 per cent;
  • Status First-nations – 37 per cent;
  • Metis – 25 per cent.

“It’s wonderful to witness the renewed mobilization led by Black and Indigenous communities asking government and civil society to seriously address anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in Canada,’’ said Boyd.

“Nobody understands the consequences of this kind of systemic injustice and poverty better than the people who have suffered its consequences for so many decades. ‘’

Leila Sarangi, national co-ordinator of Campaign 2000, said poverty and police violence in Black and Indigenous communities uphold systems of oppression and white supremacy.

“We need to address this,’’ said Sarangi.

“We support Black and Indigenous calls for immediate police accountability and significant investments in mental health services, housing, employment, childcare and education for these children.”

Sid Frankel, associate professor of social work at the University of Manitoba, said economic discrimination against Black and Indigenous children “threatens the very survival of these communities through robbing them of a future which is as healthy, educationally accomplished and occupationally successful as Canadians in general.’’


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