Black Youth and the Criminal Justice System: Summary Report of an Engagement Process in Canada


Anti-Black racism: “Anti-Black racism is prejudice, attitudes, beliefs, stereotyping and discrimination that is directed at people of African descent and is rooted in their unique history and experience of enslavement and its legacy. Anti-Black racism is deeply entrenched in Canadian institutions, policies and practices, to the extent that anti-Black racism is either functionally normalized or rendered invisible to the larger White society. Anti-Black racism is manifest in the current social, economic, and political marginalization of African Canadians, which includes unequal opportunities, lower socio-economic status, higher unemployment, significant poverty rates and overrepresentation in the criminal justice system.” (Government of Ontario, 2021)

Anti-racism approach: “Anti-racism is a process, a systematic method of analysis, and a proactive course of action rooted in the recognition of the existence of racism, including systemic racism. Anti-racism actively seeks to identify, remove, prevent, and mitigate racially inequitable outcomes and power imbalances between groups and change the structures that sustain inequities.” (Government of Ontario, 2021)

Discrimination: “Treating someone unfairly by either imposing a burden on them, or denying them a privilege, benefit or opportunity enjoyed by others, because of their race, citizenship, family status, disability, sex or other personal characteristics.” (Canadian Heritage, 2019a)

Intersectionality “Acknowledges the ways in which people's lives are shaped by their multiple and overlapping identities and social locations, which, together, can produce a unique and distinct experience for that individual or group, for example, creating additional barriers or opportunities.” (Government of Canada, Canadian Heritage, 2019b)

Low-income concentration: “Low-income concentration occurs when many low-income persons live in close proximity to each other. When the share of low-income population is high relative to the share of the general population in a neighbourhood, we say that geographic concentration of low income exists.” (Statistics Canada, 2011, p. 9)

Low-income neighbourhood: “A low-income neighbourhood is defined as one in which 30% or more persons had low incomes…Individuals are defined as low income if the after-tax income of their household falls below 50% of the median adjusted household after-tax income in Canada in 2010.” (Statistics Canada, 2011)

Marginalization: “Marginalization is a long-term, structural process of systemic discrimination that creates a class of disadvantaged minorities. Marginalized groups become permanently confined to the fringes of society. Their status is perpetuated through various dimensions of exclusion, particularly in the labour market, from full and meaningful participation in society.” (Government of Ontario, 2021)

Over-policing: Refers to an excessive response from law enforcement characterized by a heavy police presence and over-surveillance, an aggressive response to minor offences, frequent interactions with people who are not breaking any laws especially among low-income individuals and racialized minorities.

Under-policing: Refers to an inadequate response from law enforcement to victimization or potential victimization for reasons tied to the group the person comes from (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2019).

Race: “Race is a term used to classify people into groups based principally on physical traits (phenotypes) such as skin colour. Racial categories are not based on science or biology but on differences that society has created (i.e., “socially constructed”), with significant consequences for people’s lives. Racial categories may vary over time and place and can overlap with ethnic, cultural or religious groupings.” (Government of Ontario, 2021)

Racial profiling: “Racial profiling is any action undertaken for reasons of safety, security or public protection, that relies on stereotypes about race, colour, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, or place of origin, or on a combination of those traits, rather than on a reasonable suspicion, to single out an individual for greater scrutiny or different treatment.” (Government of Ontario, 2021)

Systemic and Institutional Racism: “Consists of patterns of behaviour, policies or practices that are part of the social or administrative structures of an organization, and which create or perpetuate a position of relative disadvantage for racialized persons. These appear neutral on the surface but, nevertheless, have an exclusionary impact on racialized persons.” (Canadian Heritage, 2019a)