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Global Affairs Canada committed to fighting racism

Two colorful holding hands.

We will remember 2020 for a long time to come: tragic deaths, including those of George Floyd and Joyce Echaquan, sparked global outrage. These tragedies brought to everyone’s attention the racism and injustices that Black, Indigenous and racialized people experience throughout the world, including in Canada.

These brutal reminders have raised awareness and led to concrete actions to eliminate systemic racism and fight racial discrimination not only in society, but also in the federal public service. In September 2020, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) demonstrated leadership in responding to this call to action by creating its own Anti-racism Secretariat.

From words to actions

The secretariat is responsible for developing and implementing effective measures to change the organizational culture to foster equity and inclusion systematically. It also aims to help make GAC a representative organization at all levels. Its approach combines active listening, close collaboration and action-oriented engagement. It also includes a robust monitoring and accountability system.

In 2022, the members of GAC’s Anti-racism Secretariat were Anderson Blanc, Jenna Hendrix-Miljours, Becky Khan, Myriam Montrat, Noémye Pelletier-Viel, Mélanie Saumure, Ryan Trudeau and Lashaunda Yates. With a strong social conscience, they focus on dialogue, respect for differences and equitable access to career advancement opportunities for Indigenous, Black and racialized people.

As part of their mandate, they have engaged in numerous discussions and consultations with many stakeholders, including management, experts and employees from the targeted groups, to hear their concerns and ideas. They have subsequently turned these ideas into concrete actions that form the pillars of GAC’s Anti-racism Strategy.

The strategy and its action plan offer a new lens to help transform policies, practices, behaviours and structures that contribute to systemic racism, racial discrimination and exclusion in the workplace. Its ultimate goal is to make GAC an equitable and inclusive organization, both in Canada and abroad, that reflects Canada’s culturally diverse society.

United and supportive

One thing is certain: the paradigm shift at GAC is a collective responsibility that involves not only the secretariat, but also the engagement of the department’s leadership and all employees.

“We need to be united, engaged, generous and supportive to bring about meaningful and lasting change. It’s up to each one of us to make Global Affairs Canada’s vision a reality,” said Myriam Montrat, head of the Anti-racism Secretariat. “This will enable Indigenous, Black and racialized employees to benefit from a level playing field and reach their full potential.”

This approach, which can be uncomfortable for many, requires humility and an awareness of the privileges we benefit from and the biases, often unconscious, that affect how we think.

Transforming an organization starts with each individual within it. That’s why humanity is at the heart of the process underway at GAC. “It’s through action, speaking up and remaining vigilant that we can restore a sense of belonging and trust among all our colleagues,” explains Myriam.

At GAC, change is now. As Rosemary Brown, the first Black woman to be elected to a Canadian provincial legislature, said, “We must open the doors and we must see to it that they remain open, so that others can pass through.”

Learn more about the secretariat’s work:

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