Measuring Realities of Racism in Northern Ontario


While racism and discrimination are still prevalent in Northern Ontario, the latest reports by Northern Policy Institute in partnership with Environics Research show that, for the most part, northern communities are welcoming.

In February 2022, Northern Policy Institute and organizations across Northern Ontario launched a data-collection exercise to measure individual experiences and attitudes across the regions. The reports with those findings, “Tangled Lines: Unraveling the Racism and Discrimination Divides in Northern Ontario,” are now available. Each report focuses on one of the five largest centres in Northern Ontario: Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, North Bay and Greater Sudbury.

The majority of residents who responded to the survey stated that, not only is their community welcoming, but that these welcoming efforts will continue over the next 10 years. As well, most respondents in the five communities, save for Thunder Bay (responses were split), indicated that relations between people of different racial backgrounds were generally good.

However, while findings varied between the five communities, there were several noted areas of concern that were shared, such as: individual prejudice was found to be a bigger issue for visible minorities and Indigenous peoples compared to discrimination built into laws and institutions. Furthermore, when compared to treatment of white people at work, school, public places and in dealing with police and the courts, the experiences of visible minorities and Indigenous peoples differed. Notably, treatment for Indigenous peoples was relatively more negative, even compared to visible minorities.

“These reports, alongside the numerous initiatives that focus on anti-racism and discrimination, are crucial for keeping communities accountable,” says Charles Cirtwill, President and CEO of Northern Policy Institute. “By tracking attitudes over time, we can measure the effectiveness of anti-racism and discrimination efforts.”

Based on the findings, the reports provide several recommendations:

Continue public education about racism and discrimination in all spaces;
Identify who is not around the decision-making table and why; and,
Spotlight best practices and implement where possible.
Follow the link to read the reports: