Black Canadians are jailed more than their white counterparts and part of the issue is that Canadians don’t believe they have a race problem. They stay silent on the issue.
Howard Sapers, a Canadian correctional investigator, presented an annual report to the parliament that showed Blacks in the country continue to be disproportionately imprisoned. Since Sapers started his position in 2005, he said has seen the Black prison population increase steadily. In total, the number of Black inmates has grown 69 percent.
Torontoist reports African-Canadians account for 10 percent of the federal prison population even though they only make up 3 percent of the general population. A similar statistic rings true for American prisons. Blacks make up 37 percent of the prison population and 13 percent of the general U.S. population.
Despite Canada’s Black imprisonment rates not being that far off from American rates, African-Canadian rights advocate Anthony Morgan says Canadians don’t think they face racial issues. Instead, the silence about the alarming rates of Black incarceration stems from the idea that it only affects Americans.
“It has a lot to do with what I’ve called Canadian racial exceptionalism,” he tells Torontoist. “If America is having a conversation about the hyper-incarceration of Black males, in order to maintain our sense of moral superiority, we can’t look into those issues as we experience them here in Canada.”
Though Morgan admits that rates of Black imprisonment are a little higher in America than in Canada, he says myths about Canada’s embrace of multiculturalism also plays a part.
“The truth of the matter is,” Morgan tells the publication, “when you look in our prison systems, if you go to our courthouses, if you go at children’s aid offices, to school detention halls, it is overwhelmingly Black kids who are being criminalized and punished. I think the generalized silence has to do with what we want to believe about ourselves as Canadians.”
Speaking up about Black incarceration is one way Morgan says the issue can be solved. He says the protests and marches by the Black Lives Matter movement have begun working to end the silence.
Atlanta Black Star reported the group protested the Special Investigation Unit in March for their failure to prosecute police in the killing of Andrew Loku, a Black male.