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Mixed response to northern Ontario racism survey

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A survey by a northern Ontario think tank shows that while communities in the region are generally welcoming to visible minorities, racism and discrimination are still prevalent.

The survey by the Northern Policy Institute (NPI) also found that experiences of visible minorities and Indigenous people differed.

The survey gathered input from residents in Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins, North Bay and Thunder Bay. Respondents identified challenges faced by visible minorities.

“Individual prejudice being a larger issue regarding the treatment of visible minorities and Indigenous peoples compared to discrimination built-in to laws and institutions,” said Mercedes Labelle, a senior policy analyst with NPI.

“There were also noted negative differences between the experiences of Indigenous peoples compared to visible minorities and the white population.”

Labelle said Indigenous respondents differed greatly with other survey takers on the issue of discrimination.

“Across the communities, Indigenous respondents are more likely to disagree with the statement ‘Discrimination against Indigenous peoples is no longer a problem,’ compared to white respondents,” she said.

Meantime, Batchewana First Nation Chief Dean Sayers said the survey paints an incomplete picture of racism in the North, particularly for Indigenous people.

“I think there should have been efforts to engage, specifically, the Indigenous community, the First Nations communities, and ask their thoughts and maybe work with us on talking to our people, and that can be done randomly as well,” Sayers said. 

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