The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions joins other unions in Canada’s labour movement in condemning the recent racially motivated killings, and the ongoing disproportionate violence and policing of black people.
Nurses affirm the fundamental value that Black Lives Matter. “As nurses, we are committed to acknowledging and fighting racism, bias and discrimination, all of which enable an unacceptable disregard for black lives, drive health disparities and sustain economic injustice,” said Linda Silas, President of the CFNU.
Anti-black racism across North America criminalizes black people for simply going about their daily lives. They are disproportionately treated with suspicion, subject to questioning, carding, violence and unnecessary force – all because of the colour of their skin. A study by the Ontario Human Rights Commission found that a black person in Toronto is 20 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a fatal shooting by police.
Nurses know that racism and other forms of socio-economic inequity negatively impact the health of black people and other equity-seeking communities. Black people are more likely to experience poverty in Canada and are significantly more likely to die from COVID-19, as revealed by data from the U.S. and England (Canada has not collected race-based data about the impacts of the pandemic).
“Canada’s nurses express solidarity with the fight for justice in Canada and the United States. We acknowledge the anger, grief and frustration being felt by our black members and black communities everywhere,” said Silas.
The CFNU acknowledges that we must all take responsibility for challenging the pervasive anti‑black racism and biases that permeate our justice system and our broader community. We must work to end the impunity surrounding the killing and criminalization of black people.
The CFNU recognizes that words are not enough. We intend to take action to further the shared struggle for justice. We will do this by promoting equity education, supporting anti-racism efforts in our communities, speaking out against anti-black violence and amplifying the voices of black people engaged in this struggle.
Canada’s nurses are steadfast in their commitment to building an equitable society where everyone has access to public services and can live in safety, free from the fear of violence and oppression.