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BCAS Urges UN High Commissioner to Address Systemic Human Rights Violations in Canada

group of people seated and standing
UN Human Rights Commissioner Volker Türk, center seated, beside BCAS executive director Nicholas Marcus Thompson and civil society organizations in Ottawa

The BCAS was honored to meet with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, during his visit to Canada from October 16 to 17, 2023. This meeting provided a critical platform to address the pressing human rights concerns that continue to impact Black Canadians across various aspects of their lives.

During our meeting with the High Commissioner, alongside civil society organizations, we addressed several significant issues that hold paramount importance for Black Canadians and demand immediate attention and decisive action. The systemic human rights violations faced by Black Canadians, especially in employment, are of such critical concern that they can no longer be disregarded.

The BCAS brought to the High Commissioner's attention Canada's long history of prejudice, inequalities, and systemic barriers against Black Canadians, with deeply rooted issues tracing back to the enslavement of Black people in Canada. These issues extend beyond the federal public service and encompass provincial and municipal public services, as well as the private sector. Black Canadians, notably Black women, often find themselves disproportionately confined to entry-level positions and, after years of dedicated service, retire in the same roles.

The BCAS also emphasized the Treasury Board's decision, which exposed the shocking discrimination within the Canadian Human Rights Commission, an institution entrusted with promoting and safeguarding human rights. This ruling revealed that the Commission was discriminating against its Black employees and disproportionately rejecting race-based complaints from Canadians. These findings indisputably represent a clear violation of international human rights agreements to which Canada is a signatory.

The BCAS called upon the High Commissioner to review these human rights violations against Black Canadians, encompassing all levels of government and the private sector. This review is not just a matter of justice but also underscores our collective responsibility to ensure recognition, justice, and development for people of African descent, in alignment with the UN Decade for People of African Descent.

The BCAS is resolute in its belief that the time has come to confront these systemic barriers and create a society that authentically embodies the principles of equality and inclusion that Canada aspires to uphold. We are committed to working collaboratively to address these pressing human rights issues, ensuring that Black Canadians can fully participate in and contribute to the diverse and inclusive Canada we all envision.


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