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CUPE Ontario members in Children’s Aid Societies take stand against anti-Black racism

Children’s Aid Societies must acknowledge and take action on anti-Black racism in sector, says CUPE Ontario.

“Now more than ever, we must use our collective voice to make real change in Children’s Aid Societies across the province,” says Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, CUPE Ontario Social Services Chair. “As long as employers and powerful elites try to divide workers by oppressing Black communities, CUPE Ontario must remain ardent in combatting anti-Black racism through the elimination of systems that perpetuate inequality.”

The statement issued by CUPE Ontario on behalf of members in Children’s Aid Societies lists four key components of addressing anti-Black racism in the sector, including: fair representation of Black workers, mandatory training for workers on anti-Black racism, the development of improved intervention protocols that do not disproportionately impact Black families, and community-led conversations on the consequences of anti-Black racism in workplaces and communities.

“As a union representing workers in Children’s Aid Societies, we are responsible to workers and the communities they support,” continued Poole-Cotnam. “We are taking swift action to address issues of anti-Black racism in Children’s Aid Societies, including a careful review of how systemic racism is interwoven into this work, and in-turn, how Black lives are being impacted by systemic racism in this sector. This is more than a proclamation, it’s a union-wide commitment to do better and take action.”

In 2017, Ontario’s Human Right’s Commission released a factsheet outlining types of racial discrimination observed in child welfare. The factsheet notes an overrepresentation of Black, Indigenous, and racialized children in the child welfare system and concerns on bias in risk assessment and decision-making.

“When we are silent, we are complicit,” says Aubrey Gonsalves, President of CUPE 2316. “It is time for us stand in defiance of centuries of violent mistreatment of Black bodies. As labour activists, workers in social services, and community members, we have a responsibility to act now to create a better future.”

Read CUPE Ontario’s full statement on combatting anti-Black racism in Children’s Aid Societies at cupe.on.ca.

CUPE Ontario represents more than 3,800 workers in Children’s Aid Societies across the province who ensure that children and families are safe and supported in our communities.

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