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Black and Indigenous people's confidence in police and experiences of discrimination in their daily lives

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Released: 2022-02-16

Black and Indigenous people are twice as likely as others to report that they have little or no confidence in police

The everyday experiences and perceptions of Indigenous and Black people in Canada differ from those of the non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people in many ways. Recently, social movements seeking racial and social equity in response to injustice—both current and historical—have demonstrated the importance of measuring and monitoring the perceptions and experiences of diverse populations. In particular, inequities among First Nations people, Métis, Inuit, and racialized groups regarding public safety measures, victimization, and the criminal justice system have been a key focus.

Two Juristat articles, released today, contain detailed analysis of the perceptions and self-reported experiences of diverse populations in Canada, with a particular focus on Black and Indigenous people: "Perceptions of and experiences with police and the justice system among the Black and Indigenous populations in Canada" and "Experiences of discrimination among the Black and Indigenous populations in Canada, 2019."

Black people twice as likely as non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people to report that they have little or no confidence in police

Black people have experienced and continue to experience various forms of racism, discrimination and unfair treatment in Canada, many of which are specific to the criminal justice system. On the whole, Black people living in Canada reported being less confident in police. According to the 2020 General Social Survey (GSS) on Social Identity, one in five (21%) Black people aged 15 and older reported having little or no confidence in police, double the proportion reported by non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people (11%).

Among non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people, 7 in 10 (70%) said that they had either some or a great deal of confidence in the police, compared with approximately half (54%) of Black people.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Confidence in police, by population group, provinces, 2020
Confidence in police, by population group, provinces, 2020

Black people reported having lower general confidence when it comes to specific elements of police performance. Specifically, close to one in three (30%) Black people said that police were performing poorly in at least one part of their job, a higher proportion than non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people (19%).

Compared with the overall population, Black people had particularly negative perceptions of the police's ability to treat people fairly and to be approachable and easy to talk to. For instance, 20% of Black people said that they felt that police were doing a poor job treating people fairly, compared with 7% of non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people.

Experiences of discrimination more common in the daily lives of Black people

In daily life, Black people were more likely to report experiencing discrimination in a variety of circumstances, including in banks, stores or restaurants, and when dealing with the police. According to the 2019 GSS on Canadians' Safety (Victimization), nearly half (46%) of Black people reported experiencing discrimination in the past five years—a proportion that was nearly triple that of the non-Indigenous, non-visible minority population (16%).

Chart 2  Chart 2: Experiences of discrimination in the past five years, by population group, Canada, 2019
Experiences of discrimination in the past five years, by population group, Canada, 2019

Specifically, 4 in 10 (41%) Black people said that they had experienced discrimination based on their race or skin colour.

According to the GSS on Victimization, experiences of discrimination in the five years preceding the survey were more commonly reported in 2019 than in 2014. This was particularly the case among the Black population, with 46% of Black people reporting discrimination in 2019, compared with 28% in 2014.

Indigenous people are significantly more likely than non-Indigenous people to report little or no confidence in the police

Similar to the Black population, Indigenous people reported lower rates of confidence in the police, compared with non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people. Specifically—according to the 2020 GSS on Social Identity—2 in 10 (22%) Indigenous people reported having little or no confidence in the police. This proportion was double that reported by non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people (11%).

Chart 3  Chart 3: Confidence in police, by Indigenous identity, provinces, 2020
Confidence in police, by Indigenous identity, provinces, 2020

As noted, 7 in 10 (70%) non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people reported having either some or a great deal of confidence in the police. This proportion is much higher than the proportion reported by First Nations people (48%) and Métis (54%). Estimates for Inuit from the 2020 GSS on Social Identity are not releasable because of the sample size.

When looking at indicators of police performance, Indigenous people were more likely than non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people to state police were doing a poor job at the following: enforcing the laws (10% versus 5%), promptly responding to calls (16% versus 7%), providing information on crime prevention (16% versus 9%), ensuring the safety of citizens (11% versus 5%), and treating people fairly (15% versus 7%).

One-third of Indigenous people report experiencing discrimination in the past five years

According to the 2019 GSS on Canadians' Safety (Victimization), one-third (33%) of Indigenous people reported experiencing discrimination in the past five years—a proportion well above that of the non-Indigenous, non-visible minority population (16%). More specifically, experiences of discrimination in the five years preceding the survey were reported by 44% of First Nations people, 24% of Métis, and 29% of Inuit.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Experiences of discrimination in the past five years, by Indigenous identity, Canada, 2019
Experiences of discrimination in the past five years, by Indigenous identity, Canada, 2019

Often, Indigenous people reported experiencing discrimination based on their ethnicity or culture (15%), or their race or skin colour (14%). These proportions were notably higher than among the non-Indigenous, non-visible minority population (2% and 3%, respectively).

Indigenous people were also more likely than non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people to perceive discrimination or unfair treatment because of their physical appearance (14% versus 5%), physical or mental disability (7% versus 2%), and religion (5% versus 2%).

As was also the case for the Black population, discrimination was more common among Indigenous people in 2019 (33%) than in 2014 (23%). Among the non-Indigenous, non-visible minority population, discrimination also increased, albeit to a lesser extent (from 12% in 2014 to 16% in 2019).

  Note to readers

The 2020 General Social Survey (GSS) on Social Identity was conducted in the 10 provinces only and excluded people living on reserves and those living in institutions. The 2014 and 2019 GSS on Canadians' Safety (Victimization) was conducted in all provinces and territories and excluded those living in institutions.

Products

The articles "Experiences of discrimination among the Black and Indigenous populations in Canada, 2019" and "Perceptions of and experiences with police and the justice system among the Black and Indigenous populations in Canada" are now available as part of the publication Juristat (Catalogue number85-002-X).

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@statcan.gc.ca).

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