At the end of 2015 we were hopeful that we would see the end of carding in Ontario. In April of 2015, Desmond Cole's Toronto Life article brought the issue of carding to the mainstream. In June, the "who's who of Toronto's elite" held a press conference to oppose carding. In 2016, the provincial government passed legislation that would ban carding except for investigative purposes. The legislation has been criticized as not banning carding because police officers can say they are investigating a particular crime as a justification for carding.
We also began 2016 with a commitment from the prime minister to implement all recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We ended 2016 with criticism of the PM for failing on his Indigenous campaign promises. These criticisms grew louder following his approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
We began 2016 with hopes that the eight years of social change and economic progress made under the Obama presidency would continue with another Democratic administration. We end the year with President-elect Trump who ran a campaign that normalized public and open racism, sexism, xenophobia and political violence. His campaign also rejuvenated White supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.
There is no doubt that the coming four years will create opportunities for more frank conversations about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and inequities as the conversations and decisions made in the United States impact the political discourse in Canada.
2016 reminded us that it is a long and winding road toward social justice. It reminded us just how fragile social justice gains are and that there will always be pushback, particularly against the gains we make toward race equity.
While we remember that social change happens over time, let's celebrate a few successes and progress made over the past year.
1. Ontario Premier announces the establishment of an Anti-Racism Directorate
The Minister responsible for the Directorate, Michael Coteau, spent the year holding consultations across the province to hear community concerns as well as ideas on addressing systemic racism and eliminating barriers for Indigenous and racialized communities.
2. Equity officers ask for ban of offensive team logo
3. The first sitting Prime Minister marches in Toronto's Pride Parade
4. Province removes sex designation on Health Card
5. BLM-TO continues to raise its voice
6. White Privilege Symposium comes to Canada
7. All-gender washrooms signal change in Canadian schools
Other schools are reminding people that students will use the washroom matching their gender identity, which shouldn't be questioned. My favourite was spotted at George Brown College. It says in part, "I know who I am. Assume I belong."
8. Province of Ontario moves to address systemic racism in the child welfare system
9. Human rights complaint filed against use of Cleveland baseball team's name and logo
The Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Renu Mandhane, asked news outlets to avoid using the Cleveland team's full name. Mandhane argued, "Let's not wait for them to change their names. There are many things we can do in the spirit of reconciliation." In light of the opposition to the Cleveland team's name, many Canadian sportscasters also chose not to call the team by its full name.
10. First hijabi anchors a newscast
11. Black woman to appear on new $10 Canadian bank note
She will be the first Canadian woman to be on the front of a bank note. Further, the new $10 bank note will reflect broader themes of social justice.