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Another pandemic raging in this country: racism

Publish date: Wednesday, June 09, 2021 presidentsMessage

Photo of candle burning in the dark

They were out for a walk.

Salman Afzaal, 46;

Talat Afzaal, 74;

Yumna Afzaal, 15;

Madiha Salman, 44; and

Fayez Afzaal, 9.

They were out for a walk—just like so many of us have been during the pandemic.

Only Fayez survived.

For AMAPCEO’s Muslim members: I am thinking of you and stand in solidarity with you. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un.

It has been an especially traumatic year. On top of the devastating effects of the pandemic—which has disproportionately affected marginalized communities—we collectively mourned 215 Indigenous children, grappled with anti-Black and anti-Asian hatred, and continued to reckon with structural oppression within the Ontario Public Service.

And now, this vicious Islamophobia—an act of terrorism—out of London.

It shouldn’t take violent events like these—and the pain, grief, and trauma they inflict—to draw attention to the pervasiveness of racism and hate in this country. It manifests in many forms both overtly and subtly, and everywhere in between. As my friend, AMAPCEO Indigenous Circle Chair Tim Sim, wrote last week: it is a part of Canada’s past and it is a part of Canada’s present.

I’ve spent my career in emergency health services. It’s clear to me that racism is another pandemic raging in this country. And just like COVID-19, you can’t fight it with thoughts and prayers alone. We need policy and we need progress.

I’ve seen a lot of heartfelt statements from politicians of all stripes in the last couple of days, and while their words are welcome, I join others in the call to see it supported with action.

Because racism cannot be a part of Canada’s future.

It will take all of us to have the difficult conversations necessary to upturn this status quo. To hold elected representatives to account. To be brave and learn about the ways hatred takes shape. To unlearn behaviours and our own conscious and unconscious biases. To be actively anti-racist.

To shape a more equitable future, it will take all of us.

In solidarity,

Dave Bulmer
President & CEO

If you need assistance

Naseeha is a free phone and text mental health support service and is available to Muslims and non-muslims alike. You can contact them at 1-866-NASEEHA (627-3342) from noon to midnight ET.

The Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is also available to every AMAPCEO member and their families. Details are available on the union’s Mental Health Resources page.

You may also be interested in joining an AMAPCEO Equity Caucus or Circle, a place to find community amongst demographically and culturally similar colleagues, and affect change in workplaces and our union.

More about AMAPCEO and our Members: Established in 1992, AMAPCEO is a bargaining agent that represents 14,000 professional and supervisory public servants, most of whom work directly for the Government of Ontario in every ministry and in a number of agencies, boards and commissions; in 130 communities throughout Ontario and in 12 cities outside Canada. We also represent employees outside the Ontario Public Service in: the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario; the Ontario Arts Council; Ontario Health (Quality Unit); Public Health Ontario; the Waypoint Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene; and in the former Offices of the Ontario Child Advocate and the French Language Services Commissioner (now part of the Ontario Ombudsman).