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Women's experience of racism: How race and gender interact

Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW)
Full version, July 2002

The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide easy to understand statistical information and research on how women experience racism, and to provide suggestions for resources and action. We hope it serve as a basic introduction for people with no knowledge of how race and gender affect women's lives. A shorter, hard copy version of this fact sheet is available from the CRIAW office at:

Aussi disponsible en français.


If you are subject to racism, it may cost you money, a place to live, a job, your self-respect, your health, or your life. Women who experience racism may live through it in a different way from men, and from each other.

Anti-racism does not mean pretending that race doesn't exist. It means recognizing racism, effectively and constructively challenging racism in yourself and others, and eliminating racism embedded in public policy, workplaces, and every other area of life.

What the words mean

Visible minority, racial minority, women/people of colour:

"Visible minority" tends to be used by the Canadian government, and will be used in this fact sheet when reporting statistics collected by the federal government. These terms do not include Aboriginal peoples. Some people are now using the term "racialized" to refer to this group, to show that "race is socially constructed": For example, in Canada "Irish" and "French Canadians" used to be considered races. There were signs saying "no Irish allowed" and Irish people were discriminated against in employment. Racist hatred has nothing to do with the target groups and everything to do with how dominant groups in a society identify non-dominant groups for discrimination.

Aboriginal or indigenous peoples:

"Native" people. This includes First Nations, Inuit, Métis, status and non-status Indians.


This word has been used in different ways by different people. In this fact sheet, racialized will refer to anyone who experiences racism because of their race, skin colour, ethnic background, accent, culture or religion. In this fact sheet, "racialized" includes people of colour, Aboriginal peoples, and ethnic, linguistic, religious or cultural minorities who are targets of racism. When terms such as "women of colour" are used, it refers only to that group, as Canadian statistics are often collected separately for "visible minority", "Aboriginal" and "immigrant" groups.  Racialized women have different cultures, histories, religions, family norms, life experiences, and are subject to different stereotypes. What they have in common is they are racialized - they are subject to racism and made to feel different because of their racial/ethnic background.


An immigrant is someone who moves to Canada intending to stay permanently. Immigrants come from all over the world: Asia , Africa , Europe , North or South America , or Oceania . Immigrants can be white or people of colour, speak English, French or another language as a mother tongue.


A refugee is someone who moves to Canada under a special category ("refugee") because they are fleeing persecution or war in their own country.

Overt racism: 

Racism can be overt, such as calling people names, beating them up, excluding them on the basis of race or ethnicity. Some companies ask employment agencies for white candidates only.

Covert, subtle or "polite" racism:

Lets you know you are different, that the most salient characteristic about you is your race, rather than your personality, your achievements as an individual, or anything else.

Structural racism: 

Not all racism is as obvious as beating someone up or even secretly excluding someone while being polite to their face. Racism can be structural (it's a part of every aspect of society). Sometimes structural racism in hiring is not conscious or deliberate: People tend to hire people they know, people like themselves, they advertise the job among their own networks. When the majority of people in decision-making positions are white men, they tend to hire other white men. Employment equity programs are supposed to get companies and government departments to expand their networks, to ensure racialized communities hear about job opportunities, to give them a fair chance, and to introduce anti-discrimination policies and workshops in the workplace.

Jobs/ income

Racism and sexism combine to produce more economic inequalities for racialized women than experienced by either white women or racialized men. Average annual income for 1995/961:

$31,117 -         All Canadian men

$23,600 -         Visible minority men

$19,208 -         All Canadian women

$18,200 -         Aboriginal men

$16,600 -         Visible minority women

$13,300 -         Aboriginal women

Over half or nearly half of some racialized groups of women in Canada are living in poverty: 52% of women of Arab/West Asian [Middle Eastern] ancestry, 51% of women of Latin American ancestry, and 47% of Black women and 43% of Aboriginal women live in poverty. In the case of the first two groups, recent immigration may be a factor. Racialized immigrant women face more roadblocks to employment in Canada :  More often than not, foreign university degrees and qualifications and foreign work experience are not recognized, because Canada has inadequate systems to judge academic equivalencies.2 Although governments invest in English or French as a second language programs, existing programs are inadequate to meet the need. Many women in particular are not receiving enough language training to integrate themselves as full participants in Canadian society. Racism is a major barrier to employment: Many employers and managers make assumptions about work habits, suitability of certain types of work and ability to "fit in" on the basis of skin colour, or assume that someone who speaks English or French with a different accent is stupid.3 In the case of Black women and Aboriginal women, long standing policies and practices of racism and marginalization keep almost half (over 40%) of these groups of women living in poverty, compared with 19% of women who are not visible minorities.4 In 1996, 17% of visible minority women in Canada had a university degree compared to 12% of Canadian women who did not belong to a visible minority group. Nevertheless, 15% of visible minority women were unemployed, compared with 9% of non-visible minority women.5


Racial discrimination in housing is well-documented. Jamaican and Somali immigrants had particular difficulties in finding rental housing, because of perceptions of landlords toward these groups.6 Race is also a barrier to home ownership. In two studies of Black and White people in Toronto matched for income and family characteristics, found a lower rate of home ownership among Black people.7 There is also a racist perception that Chinese immigrants in the BC Lower Mainland, for example, are "taking over", particularly certain suburbs like Richmond.8 No one seems to feel that white people have "taken over" certain communities, even though all white people in Canada are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. Research has shown that racialized immigrant women can experience extreme forms of discrimination when finding housing, especially if they are single parents.  They are very vulnerable to abuse by landlords.9

Access to justice

For racialized women, gender-based violence is not the only type of violence they experience: race and gender combine to increase their likelihood of being assaulted. For example, First Nations woman Helen Betty Osbourne was brutally gang-raped, tortured and killed by a group of white men, and the white townsfolk kept a conspiracy of silence about her rapists and murderers. Because of the documented racism of Canada's police forces, criminal justice system and jails10 - racialized women may be reluctant to call police in cases of domestic assault out of loyalty to their family and community, not wishing to fuel racist stereotypes about their community, or to subject themselves or family members to a racist system. Refugees from places in which police forces, military and the government were involved in violence against civilians, including organized or systemic rape of women, may have no trust in systems of authority.11 Aboriginal women are subject to racism in the courts, and are over-represented in Canadian jails, which is a soul-destroying experience. Aboriginal women make up over 20% of Canada 's female prison population, but only 2% of the female population of Canada.12 In Canada, you are more likely to be sent to jail if you are poor or racialized.13 Programs in jail are often not appropriate for racialized women.14


Racism itself can cause illness. When people are overtly racist, it translates into poorer health for the targets of racism. 15 Structural racism can also cause illness and death. Language and cultural barriers mean less access to life-saving medical procedures.16 Structural racism leading to less income and social status has a direct impact on health.17  Another example of structural racism is using standards developed in research using white men to measure health and health risks, when these standards may not be the same for women, racialized people, and particularly for racialized women.

Some women refugees in Canada have experienced rape during wartime and have seen their children and other family members tortured and killed. This has particular physical and mental health consequences. Some women have been subject to female genital mutilation, which may also pose health problems and isolate them from health care providers and from women outside their communities.18

Women tend to be the health guardians of their families, and sacrifice paid work and personal happiness to care for sick relatives. Greater vulnerability to illness and less access to health care and home care services for racialized communities19 mean more unpaid health care work for racialized women, which can have an impact on their own health.

Racialized sexuality

Racialized women are often sexualized in racist ways. This is one of the ways racism and sexism can combine. For women of colour, sexual harassment can be racialized. A man might sexually harass a woman of colour by making racist comments or assumptions about her sexuality. Women of Asian origin are often stereotyped as exotic and obedient. Black women are stereotyped as highly sexual and available.20 It is possible that women of colour face more sexual harassment and may be more vulnerable to sexual assault because of racist stereotypes. In addition, if they are harassed or assaulted, racist stereotypes on the part of the police and the courts mean they may have less access to justice. Racialized women who are lesbian, bisexual or transgendered face homophobia and racism from mainstream society, marginalization from their own communities, and racism, exclusion and stereotyping from movements seeking gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered rights.


School curricula tend to erase the contributions of racialized women in building Canada . For example, many Canadians still believe that Canada is made of "two founding peoples" (English and French), and do not learn about the 10,000 year history of Aboriginal women and men on this land, nor about Canada's own history of slavery prior to 1833 and the particular suffering of Black women slaves, nor the interaction of racism and sexism in Canada's old law banning men of Asian origin from employing white women, the trafficking of Aboriginal women as prostitutes by white male Indian agents, or that women of Chinese origin were banned from becoming citizens until 1946, or that Aboriginal women and men did not receive the federal vote until 1960, 42 years after the full federal vote was granted to white women. Where they learn about the contributions of racialized people to Canada , it tends to be of racialized men. In addition, teachers may treat racialized students differently, sometimes without realizing they are doing so. A major factor in racialized students who do not do well at school are the racist low expectations of their teachers.21 Both sexist and racist expectations of teachers and guidance counselors can have a profound effect on the lives of racialized girls. A study found that young Canadian-born Black francophone and anglophone women and men living in Montreal also experienced racial confrontations and harassment by fellow students in English and French elementary and high schools.22


The media portrayal of white women still leaves a lot to be desired, but the media portrayal of racialized women is worse. Apart from a small minority of racialized women who appear to be confident, whole people, racialized people in general and racialized women in particular are underrepresented in Canadian television drama and news media relative to their proportion in the Canadian population, and where racialized women do appear, they are often relegated to stereotypical positions.23 


Racism can create feelings of powerlessness and low self-esteem24, which have an impact on health, happiness and life chances.

Citizenship and immigration

Canada claims to have a non-racist, non-sexist immigration system. Why then is there an over-representation of Canadian overseas immigration offices in the United States and Europe , when most of Canada 's immigrants now come from Asia ? 25 Canada 's immigration system divides people into classes: If you have enough money, you can buy your way in under the investor class. Canada judges independent class immigrants according to a point system, which gives points for education, and speaking one of Canada 's official languages, for example. This discriminates against women, because "women have been denied access to education, training and employment opportunities. As a result, most women entering Canada are unable to qualify as independent immigrants."26 Most women enter Canada as sponsored immigrants, which means that they are financially dependent on their sponsors, usually their husbands, for a period of three or ten years. It means they do not qualify for many social services or programs. It gives husbands and other sponsors a huge amount of power over women, who can be abused and threatened with deportation if they complain. Many women do not know their rights.

Domestic workers

Some advocates refer to the federal government's immigration Live-in Caregiver Program as "a form of slavery". Women from other countries and regions, particularly the Philippines and the Caribbean , come to Canada because of a lack of economic alternatives in their own countries, in order to send money back to support their children and other relatives. This obligation and lack of choices makes them very vulnerable to abuse of all kinds. Women who come to Canada under the Live-in Caregiver Program must live in their employers' home (which increases vulnerability to sexual assault, eliminates privacy, and means they are on-call 24 hours per day and usually not paid for overtime). They can only work for the employer who is listed on the Employment Authorization (EA) form and cannot take other work. They can only stay in Canada until the date specified on the EA. They are frequently unaware of their rights and employers have threatened them with deportation and other measures to ensure their silence about abusive working conditions.27

Hate crimes

In Toronto there are about 300 overt acts of racism every year, mainly involving vandalism and assault, particularly against Jewish and Black people. However, these statistics are from before September 11, when there was a huge increase in vandalism and assault of Muslims and people who looked like they might be of Arab origin, as well as bombings and vandalism of Muslim, Jewish and  Hindu places of worship.28 Hate crimes, in terms of being beaten because of your race, ethnicity or religion can lead to injury, permanent disability or death. Hate crimes involving vandalism of places of worship or other buildings or objects identified with a group can leave the community fearful and feeling excluded from society. Women may have particular safety concerns, as the targets of sexual as well as physical assault.

"But all that is in the past. Why can't we forget about it?"

It's obviously not in the past. Take a look at the statistics about how racism affects access to housing, jobs, health, justice and citizenship. The past also shapes people's experiences in the present. For example, for over a hundred years, a Canadian government policy to assimilate Aboriginal peoples by taking kids away from their families to residential schools where they were punished for speaking their language, practicing their own cultural and religious traditions, and often the victims of physical and sexual abuse, left generations of Aboriginal people without parenting skills, without self-esteem, and feeling ashamed of who they were and hopeless about the future. Survivors of residential schools are still trying to heal from the damage.

"Why can't women just join together as a sisterhood instead of bringing up things that divide us?"

Kalwant Bhopal says that the idea of sisterhood implies that all women experience the same oppression, but solidarity implies an understanding that the struggles of all women are different, but interconnected.1  Metis anti-racist, feminist activist educator Jean Fyre Graveline discusses the myths that 'skin colour doesn't matter', 'we are all equal', 'we all have equal opportunity to succeed'. She draws on Aboriginal healing methods to show that we are all interconnected, but that we must recognize that people have different privileges which affect how people work together.2 To build a strong women's movement and a strong society, we must face head-on the challenges of racism and how it interacts with many other factors to produce our different life experiences.

"What about reverse racism?"

"Reverse racism" is a term mainly used by people to justify their own racism: Some people defend white privilege by saying, well such-and-such a group is racist too. The big difference is, because white people, particularly white men, are over-represented in positions of power relative to their proportion in the population, white racism against other groups often means lost job opportunities, particularly for racialized women. There are so few racialized women in positions of power that if some dislike white people or not, it has no real effect on white people, who continue to hold the best jobs in disproportionate numbers. Quite frankly, after experiencing the horrible effects of racism, the onus is not on racialized women to embrace and trust white people, but on white people to stop being racist. "Reverse racism" is also used to describe employment equity programs, by people who believe this is a "race-based, gender-based hiring system". What these people do not want to acknowledge is that in the absence of employment equity systems, there is often an unwritten race-based, gender-based hiring system in favour of white men, which is why white men are over-represented in decision-making positions, despite being of equal intelligence, talent, ambition and willingness to work hard as the rest of the population. Employment equity is not an attack on white men. It is a mechanism to ensure that everyone has a fair chance.

"What about so-and-so who's in a position of power? Doesn't that mean that all racialized women can make it if they work hard enough?"

A few token racialized women in positions of power does not mean that things are fine and dandy for all racialized women, or that racism and sexism do not exist. A lot of racialized women have worked very hard to get where they are, and a lot of racialized women have worked very hard and not reached their goals because of racist attitudes and structures.

Assumptions that reflect gendered racism

Assumptions that racialized women are not feminists:

Some people assume that women may have certain beliefs and outlooks depending on their racial, ethnic or religious background. Women of South Asian ancestry (including India and Pakistan ) are often assumed to want to have only sons. Muslim women who wear the hijab (head scarf) are often assumed not to be feminists, or to be subservient to men. The only way to know what a woman believes is by asking her.

Assumptions that all people of colour are immigrants:

White women who emigrate from the United States or other primarily English or French-speaking countries are often not viewed as immigrants, but as Canadians who were born elsewhere. Women of colour who were born in Canada are often viewed as immigrants, even though they are not. They are asked, "Where are you from?" If they answer, " Edmonton ", they are then asked, "No, where are you really from?" They are made to feel like foreigners in their own country.

Racism hurts the country and the world

White people unknowingly experience immediate benefits of racism, such as access to housing and jobs because racialized candidates have been turned down. However, in the end, racism destroys community and individual well-being. Hatred, suspicion, lack of trust, putting up barriers between oneself and others because of race, seeing someone as less than human or peculiar or other, these are the source of a lot of conflicts and problems in the country and in the world. Racial discrimination is also a terrible waste of human resources, which hurts our economy as a whole.

Resistance to acknowledging racism

Most Canadians know that to be racist is a bad thing, so they deny being racist. However, many Canadians continue to hold stereotypes that benefit white people and hurt everybody else in very real ways. Some people think racism is just about a few isolated incidents perpetrated by just a few ignorant individuals. However there have recently been a number of disturbing comments by people with decision-making power over others, such as these examples from early 2002 alone:

  • Ontario Finance Minister Jim Flaherty suggested in January 2002 that Aboriginal people were not "real people".29 Flaherty held the purse strings for every initiative in Ontario , and came in second in the leadership race to become Premier of Ontario.
  • Saskatchewan Member of Parliament Roy Bailey publicly stated also in January 2002 that Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, the new minister for veterans' affairs, was unsuited for the job because he is "Asiatic".30
  • PEI Member of the Legislative Assembly Wilbur MacDonald said in an April 2002  speech that ".the white human race is on a fast track which will destroy us.we're not at the present time keeping up with the numbers of people who are in our society.England for example is being taken over by British West Indies people, France is being taken over by another group of people. It won't be long in the United States .Spanish people will be taking over.. We're going to deteriorate in our population too."31

Racism is systemic. It's not about a few individuals. Racism pervades the structures of our society, such as our government, our schools, the labour market, the immigration system, the justice system, police forces, and so on.

Internalized racism

Racialized people can also be racist - both in terms of accepting mainstream views about other racial, ethnic and cultural groups, and in terms of believing the repeated racist messages they have heard all their lives. Everyone has a voice in their head that repeats messages about good and bad, right and wrong, from when we were growing up. When someone has grown up with racism, that voice can be internalized, that is, the voice repeats the racist messages throughout life, about not being good enough. It can also harm that person's relationships with people within their community. One example of this is in Beatrice Culleton's book In Search of April Raintree, in which two Metis sisters grow up in separate foster homes. One can "pass for white" and the other has darker skin. The lighter-skinned sister, despite her lighter skin,  grew up being called "half-breed", "dirty Indian", etc. and was mistreated by her white foster family, while the darker-skinned sister grew up in a Metis-positive home. The lighter-skinned sister is ashamed to be seen with her darker-skinned sister, and renounces her heritage and wants to "live like a white person". This is internalized racism, and it has an effect on the relationship between the sisters. It is when even some small part of you believes the racist garbage you have heard. It can affect how you live your life. Developing high self-esteem and modeling this for others is a powerful act of resistance.

Race interacts with many other factors

Class/income/occupation/social status: You may suffer from racism and discrimination based on low income/lower socioeconomic class. Racialized women with higher wages and prestigious jobs (doctors, lawyers, university professors) may not experience racism in the same way as racialized women who are cleaners, sales clerks and factory workers. Although all racialized women may be pressured to remain silent about racism, racialized women who work on contract, in temporary jobs, or high-turnover low-paid jobs may have little or no real access to ways of effectively addressing racism.

Immigration status: Family class immigrants (mainly women) do not have the same rights and responsibilities as independent immigrants (mainly men).

Indian status: Despite a 1985 change in law removing most of the sex discrimination in the Indian Act, the federal government prevents Aboriginal women who marry men without Indian status to pass their Indian status on to their grandchildren, whereas Aboriginal men can. There are also differences in access to rights between "status" and "non-status" women.

Language: Certain linguistic minorities may also experience racism, which is reflected in their income and opportunities. For example, immigrant women from southern Europe (Greece, Spain, Portugal) have lower average incomes than some other groups of racialized women, [32] and one of the highest rates of poverty among groups of racialized women are women of Latin American background, whose first language tends to be Spanish or Portuguese. [33] Language barriers also keep women in situations of abuse, such as women from eastern Europe who are trafficked to Canada and made to work as prostitutes or strippers. Francophone women outside of Quebec may also experience hatred and discrimination, and must act continually to defend their constitutional rights.

Culture:  Sometimes racialized women can be torn between the expectations for women in their communities' cultures, the dominant culture and their own ideas and dreams.

Religion: Many world religions, including dominant religions in Canada , discriminate against women in terms of women's full decision-making and participation in religious structures and in their stereotyped expectations of women. Some women are also subject to religious persecution in Canada , both in terms of physical attacks on the basis of being Muslim, Jewish, or other minority religion, and in terms of employment discrimination.

Physical appearance:  All women are subject to judgements about their physical appearance, but the lightness or darkness of skin colour, visible cultural or religious practices such as wearing a hijab (head scarf), and physical characteristics, can have an effect on how women are judged and treated.

Disability: Disabled Ugandan refugee Justine Kiwanuka talks about how most disabled refugees fleeing war and persecution are screened out by Canadian refugee policy, because Canada thinks they will be a "burden on society". Disabled refugees can only get in if they are directly sponsored, but because of their disability, they may have less access to finding sponsors. [34] (Although the Canadian government has now removed the disability barrier to successful refugee application, prejudice against people with disabilities may still remain.) Women in refugee camps are often sexually abused, and disability may make them even more vulnerable. [35] Disability rights movements have not fully integrated a gender and anti-racist analysis in their work. We know that people with disabilities in general tend to have much lower incomes and higher unemployment than non-disabled Canadians, women with disabilities more than men. [36] This may be made much more severe by racial discrimination as well, particularly for racialized disabled women.

Sexual orientation: Racialized lesbians may face particular difficulties: rejection from their racialized communities, and racism within the gay and lesbian movement and mainstream society. They may feel that they do not belong anywhere. Geographic isolation may also be a factor: It is easier to find a network of other racialized lesbians in Toronto or Montreal , than in Flin Flon, Prince George or Canso.

Age: Age and gender can also play a role in racist stereotyping, particularly in racial profiling by police. Innocent young Black men in particular have been harassed or shot down by police. [37] Young Aboriginal girls and some boys are more likely to be recruited as child prostitutes, particular in the western provinces. [38] Dominant cultural stereotypes about older people can undermine the traditional respect and authority of Aboriginal elders, who play a significant cultural and spiritual role, as well as elders in other communities with healthier views of aging and seniors than the mainstream in Canada .

Personal background and experience: Someone who has grown up in a supportive environment and has had strong role models may be better able to cope with racism without losing all sense of self-esteem. When someone has grown up with low expectations from teachers, authority figures and even the internalized racism of their own parents and community, later racist experiences just reinforce everything they have ever heard, and it becomes incredibly difficult not to internalize the racism.


It is important to understand that racialized women are not passive victims, but at the same time, they do not have sole responsibility to eliminate racism and sexism. The efforts of racialized women to create a world in which everyone is safe, respected and has equal social and economic status must be supported by all. Some of the greatest social justice leaders and pioneers have been women of colour: Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Aung San Suu Kyi, Rigoberta Menchu. In Canada , racialized women have taken leadership roles in eliminating gendered racism: Mary Two-Axe Early, Joan Grant-Cummings, Rosemary Brown, Sunera Thobani, to name a few.

What governments should do:

Employment equity: with a focus on reducing barriers to racialized women. This includes anti-racism training for managers and staff, and gender-sensitive anti-racist recruitment and training practices.

Immigration: Take action on the recommendations of the immigration brief submitted to government by a coalition of women's legal, immigrant and domestic workers organizations. [39]

Domestic workers:  Act on INTERCEDE's and the West Coast Domestic Workers Association's recommendations that domestic workers be admitted as landed immigrants, and that their rights be protected and enforced.

Foreign policy: Eliminate gender and racial bias from Canada 's foreign policy by consulting with affected groups of women and with a wide spectrum of Canadians.

Aboriginal policy:  Take action on the recommendations of the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and recommendations made by the Native Women's Association of Canada, Pauktuutit Inuit Women's Association and the Metis National Council of Women. The federal government issued a response to the Commission that did not address most of the recommendations, and Pauktuutit and the MNCW are not allowed to participate as equals in Aboriginal policy negotiations.

Anti-poverty:  Recognize the role of racism in reducing employment opportunities and creating poverty, particularly for certain racialized groups. Move away from punitive social assistance policies which treat people on welfare like criminals. In a rich country like Canada , no one should be living in poverty. Governments should be looking at western and northern European anti-poverty measures which have drastically reduced poverty in those countries.

Anti-racism:  Hire good anti-racism trainers who have an excellent grasp of gender and other diversity issues to do training for all managers, policy developers and service providers as a start. Ideally, everyone in every workplace and voluntary group should receive such training.

Gender and diversity analysis of all public policy, involving real consultation with groups. One of the results of the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) was that "States [countries] are urged to mainstream a gender perspective in the design and development of measures of prevention, education and protection for the eradication of racism at all levels, develop national plans for investigating the current conditions of minority women as well as to establish follow-up mechanisms in accordance with international human rights standards, and include concrete measures and effective remedies for eradicating multiple forms of discrimination." [40]

What you can do:

Challenge gendered racism:  Do not let racist assumptions and practices go unchallenged among your family, co-workers or in the media. Media can use the following racial diversity checklist:

Actively support policies that lead to equality: Contact your political representatives and ask them what specific measures they will take to reduce and eliminate gendered racism.

Arrange anti-racism lectures/workshops/training in your school, workplace, place of worship, bowling club, book club, community centre, any place you get together with people. Invite a facilitator with adult education experience and expertise in race and gender issues. Use materials that incorporate gender and race.


National organizations and web sites

National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC)
203 - 234 Eglinton Avenue East , Toronto , Ontario M4P 1K5 Canada
Tel: (416) 932-1718 Fax: (416) 0646 E-mail:  Web:
NAC also has anti-racism and anti-discrimination guidelines for its organization, which make a good model.

National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada
225 - 219 Argyle Avenue , Ottawa , Ontario K2P 2H4 Canada
Tel: (613) 232-0689 Fax: (613) 232-0988 E-mail:

Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC)
1292 Wellington Street , Ottawa ON K1A 3A9 Canada
Tel: (613)722-3033  Fax: (613)722-7687  Web:

Pauktuutit Inuit Women's Association
192 Bank Street , 2nd floor, Ottawa , Ontario K2P 1W8 Canada
Tel: (613) 238-3977 Fax: (613) 238-1787 Web:

Metis National Council of Women
201 McLeod Street, Ottawa , ON , K2P 0Z9
Tel: (613) 567-4287  Fax: (613) 567-9644  Email:

Canadian Race Relations Foundation [41] , 4576 Yonge Street, Suite 701 , Toronto , Ontario , M2N 6N4 , Canada.Telephone: 1-888-240-4936 (toll free) or 1-416-952-3500. Fax: 1-888-399-0333 (toll free) or 1-416-952-3326. Email:

The Foundation offers grants for anti-racist research and initiatives. Its web site also offers fact sheets and bibliographies. It has not done much work on the intersection between race and gender.

Anti-Racism Info rmation Service: Info rmation particularly about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Available in English, French and Spanish.

Queen's University anti-racism resource page:


Campbell, Denise and Dhaliwal, Bindu. Challenge the assumptions! Toronto : The Students Commission.  An anti-racist, feminist kit created by young women, for young women focusing on issues such as work, media, self-esteem, body image, sexual abuse, racism, sexism, and activism from a Canadian and a global perspective. Available in French and English.

National Action Committee on the Status of Women. (2000) Anti-Racism Educational Kit. Toronto : NAC. A collection of photocopied materials to aid in anti-racism education.

Bristow, Peggy; Brand, Dionne; Carty, Linda; Cooper, Afua; Hamilton, Sylvia; and Shadd, Adrienne. (1994). 'We're Rooted Here and They Can't Pull Us Up': Essays in African Canadian Women's History. Toronto : University of Toronto Press.

Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. (1996) Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples: People to people, nation to nation. Ottawa : Minister of Supply and Services. Also available in French, Cree and Inuktitut. Volume 4: Perspectives and Realities contains a section on "Voices of Women."

Persad, Judy Vashti and Moreno , Véronica. (1990). Community Development with Immigrant Women: A Resource Kit for Community Educating and Organizing. Toronto : Cross Cultural Communication Centre.

Adams, Maurianne; Blumenfeld, Warren and Castaneda, Rosie (Eds.) (2000) Readings for Diversity and Social Justice: An Anthology on Racism, Sexism, Anti-Semitism, Heterosexism, Classism, and Ableism.  RoutledgeFalmer.

Derman?Sparks, Louise and Brunson Phillips, Carol. (1997). Teaching/ Learning Anti?Racism: A Developmental Approach. New York : Teachers College Press.

Graveline, Fyre Jean. (1998). Circle Works: Transforming Eurocentric Consciousness. Halifax . Fernwood Publishing.

Lee, Enid ; Menkart, Deborah and Okazawa?Rey, Margo.(eds.). (1998). Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K?12 Anti?Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development. Washington , D.C. : Network of Educators on the Americas .

Ng, Roxana; Staton, Pat;  and Scane, Joyce (eds.). (1995). Anti?Racism, Feminism, and Critical Approaches to Education. Toronto. OISE Press: The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Almeida. R. V. (Ed.). (1998). Transformations of gender and race: Family and developmental perspectives. New York: Haworth.

A book designed to help therapists and social workers deal with issues of race, class, gender, heterosexism, and culture in couples and family therapy.

Bograd, Michele. (1999) Strengthening domestic violence theories: Intersections of race, class, sexual orientation, and gender.  Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, volume 25, number 3 (July 1999) pages 275-289.

Razack, Sherene. (1998) Looking white people in the eye: Gender, race, and culture in courtrooms and classrooms. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.


This fact sheet was researched and written by Marika Morris, in consultation with Laura Bonnett, Jo-Anne Lee, Nayyar Javed, Marylea MacDonald, Michèle Ollivier, Michelle Owen, Addena Sumter-Freitag, Rhoda Ungalaq, the CRIAW Board and Research Committee, and with all the individuals and organizations who responded to our call for input on PAR-L and NetFemmes. The fact sheet was designed by Rachel Côté, and research support provided by Natalie McMullen. CRIAW gratefully acknowledges the financial participation of Status of Women Canada in making this project possible.

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1  The averages for all men and all women in Canada are 1995 data from the 1996 Census, reported in Statistics Canada, 1996 Census: Sources of Income, earnings and total income, and family income, The Daily, May 12, 1998. The other data are from Statistics Canada, Women in Canada 2000: A gender-based statistical report (Ottawa : Minister of Industry, 2000)

2  National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada,  A survey of immigrant and visible minority women on the issue of recognition of foreign credentials (Ottawa: NOIVMC, 1996)

3  West Coast Domestic Workers Association web site:

4   Statistics Canada , Women in Canada 2000: A gender-based statistical report ( Ottawa : Minister of Industry, 2000) p. 246.

5   Statistics Canada , Women in Canada 2000, pp. 224, 226.

6  Kenneth Dion, Immigrant's perceptions of housing discrimination in Toronto : The Housing New Canadians Project, The Journal of Social Issues, volume 57, number 3, Fall 2001, pp. 523-39.

7  Joe T. Darden and Sameh M. Kamel, Black and white differences in homeownership rates in the Toronto census metropolitan area: Does race matter? The Review of Black Political Economy volume 28, number2, Fall 2000, pp. 53-76; Andrejs Skaburskis, Race and tenure in Toronto, Urban Studies, volume 33, March 1996, pp. 223-52.

8  Brian K. Ray, Greg Halseth, and Benjamin Johnson, The changing 'face' of the suburbs: Issues of ethnicity and residential change in suburban Vancouver , International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, volume 21, March 1997,pp. 75-99.

9  Sylvia Novac, Immigrant enclaves and residential segregation: voices of racialized refugee and immigrant women, Canadian Woman Studies, volume 19, number 3, Fall 1999, pp. 88-93.

10  Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System, Report of the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System (Toronto: Queen's Printer for Ontario); Jean Charles Coutu, La Justice pour et par les autochtones (Québec : Ministre de la Justice du Québec, 1995); A. Currie and George Kiefl, Ethnocultural groups and the justice system in Canada: A review of the issues (Ottawa: Department of Justice Canada, 1994); Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System, Racism behind bars: The treatment of Black and other racial minority prisoners in Ontario prisons (Toronto: Queen's Printer for Ontario, 1994); Urban Alliance on Race Relations, Race and the Canadian justice system: An annotated bibliography (Toronto: Urban Alliance on Race Relations, 1995); the Hon. Louise Arbour, Commission of inquiry into certain events at the Prison for Women in Kingston. (Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services, 1996).

11  Amnesty International, Women's Rights are Human Rights: Resources for information and action ( Ottawa : Amnesty International Canada, 2002):

12   Statistics Canada , Women in Canada 2000, p. 177.

13  Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, Factsheet: Justice and the Poor ( Ottawa : CAEFS, no date): ; Elizabeth Comack, Vanessa Chopyk and Linda Wood, Mean streets? The social locations, gender dynamics and patterns of violent crime in Winnipeg  ( Ottawa : Centre for Policy Alternatives, December 2000).

14  Kelly Blanchette, Risk and need among federally sentenced female offenders: A comparison of minimum, medium and maximum security inmates (Ottawa: Research Division, Correctional Service of Canada, 1997); Barbara Bloom, Gender-responsive programming for women offenders: Guiding principles and practices, Forum on Corrections Research, volume 11, number 3, 2000: pages 22-27; Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS), Position of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) regarding the classification and carceral placement of women classified as maximum security prisoners (Ottawa: CAEFS, 1997); Kim Pate, Complaint regarding the discriminatory treatment of federally sentenced women by the Government of Canada (Ottawa: Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, 2001): .

15  See Nancy Krieger and Stephen Sidney, Racial discrimination and blood pressure: The CARDIA study of young Black and White adults, American Journal of Public Health, volume 86, number 19 (October 1996) pages 1370-1378; Wornie L. Reed, Suffer the children: Some effects of racism on the health of Black infants, in Peter Conrad and Rochelle  Kern (Eds.), The Sociology of Health and Illness: Critical perspectives (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994) pages 314-327, quoted in Boston Women's Health Book Collective, Our Bodies, Ourselves for the New Century (New York: Touchstone, 1998) page 683.

16  T. Gregory Hislop, Chong The, Agnes Lai, Tove Lobo and Victoria M. Taylor, Cervical cancer screening in BC Chinese women, BC Medical Journal, volume 42, number 10 (December 2000) pages 456-460.

17  Income is the primary determinant of health, beyond smoking, "lifestyle choices", and genetic endowment: See Andrew Haines and Richard Smith, Working together to reduce poverty's damage, British Medical Journal (22 February 1997) volume 317, page 529; Dennis Raphael, Health inequalities in Canada: Current discourses and implications for public health action, Critical Public Health, volume 10, number 2 (2000) pages 193-216; Pat Armstrong, Hugh Armstrong and David Coburn, Unhealthy Times: Political economy perspectives on health and care (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001); Dennis Raphael, Health effects of economic inequality, Canadian Review of Social Policy, volume 44 (1999) pages 25-40; J.A. Auerbach and B.K. Krimgold, Income, socioeconomic status and health: Exploring the relationships (Washington, D.C.: National Policy Association, 2001); I. Kawachi, B.P. Kennedy and R.G. Wilkinson (Eds.), Income inequality and health (New York: New Press, 1999); R.G. Wilkinson and M. Marmot (Eds.), Social Determinants of Health: The solid facts (Copenhagen: World Health Organization, 1998) ; D. Acheson, Independent Inquiry into Inequalities in Health (London, UK: Stationary Office, 1998) ; David Ross and P. Roberts, Income and Child Well-Being: A new perspective on the poverty debate (Ottawa: Canadian Council on Social Development, 1999); Monica Townson, Health and wealth (Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 1999); US Department of Health and Human Services, Socioeconomic Status and Health Chartbook in Health, United States, 1998: ; M. Bartley, D. Blane, and S. Montgomery, Health and the life course: Why safety nets matter, British Medical Journal, volume 314 (1997) pages 1194-1196; D. Coburn, Income inequality, lowered social cohesion, and the poorer health status of populations: The role of neo-liberalism Social Science and Medicine, volume 51(2000) pages 135-146; J.W. Lynch, G. Davey Smith, G.A. Kaplan and J.S. House, Income inequality and mortality: Importance to health of individual income, psychosocial environment, or material conditions, British Medical Journal, volume 320 (2000) pages 1200-1204.

18  Canadian Women's Health Network, Female genital mutilation and health care: Current situation and legal status recommendations to improve the health care of affected women ( Ottawa : Health Canada Women's Health Bureau, 2000):

19  Mary Ann Mulvihill, Louise Mailloux and Wendy Atkin, Advancing policy and research responses to immigrant and refugee women's health in Canada ( Ottawa : Centres of Excellence for Women's Health, Health Canada , 2001)

20  Philomena Essed, Towards a methodology to identify converging forms of everyday discrimination (New York: United Nations, no date) quoted in Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA), Report on Canada's compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in response to Canada's 13th and 14th reports to the Committee in the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. FAFIA Think Tank Paper No. 3. ( Ottawa : FAFIA, August 2001)

21  See Canadian Race Relations Foundation, Racism in our schools: What to know about it; How to fight it ( Toronto , CRRF, 2000):

22  Micheline Labelle, Daniel Salée, Yolande Frenette, Civic incorporation or exclusion? Representation of citizenship among second generation youth of Jamaican and Haitian origin in Montreal (Montréal : Centre de recherche sur l'immigration, l'ethnicité et la citoyenneté (CRIEC):

23  MediaWatch, Front and centre: Minority representation on television ( Toronto : MediaWatch, no date) Data collected in 1993:

24  Josephine Enang, Mothering at the margins: An African-Canadian immigrant woman's experience, Canadian Women's Health Network (Spring 2001), pages 7-8:

25  Applicants to emigrate to Canada must submit their applications to the Canadian embassy, consulate or commission nearest them. There are six such offices in the United States alone, whereas many Asian countries do not even have one, and India , one of the largest countries in the world, only has one for the whole country. See Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Immigration Processing Missions Abroad:

26  Judy Vashti Persad and Véronica Moreno, Community development with immigrant women: A resource kit for community educating and organizing (Toronto: Cross Cultural Communication Centre, 1990) page 21.

27  West Coast Domestic Workers Association web site:   "The West Coast Domestic Worker's Association (WCDWA) is an independent organization formed and run by domestic workers and their supporters to help nannies and caregivers with employment rights and immigration issues. The majority of our members are - or were - domestic workers like you and come from many different places around the world including the Philippines and other South Asian countries, Eastern and Western Europe , Australia and New Zealand , Latin America and Canada ."

28  Canadian Human Rights Commission, Annual Report 2001 ( Ottawa : CHRC, 2002)

29   Canadian Race Relations Foundation, "Flaherty: Enough is enough says the Executive Director of the CRRF". News release ( Toronto : CRRF, Jan. 22, 2002 ).

30   Canadian Race Relations Foundation, ""Asiatic" remarks inappropriate.

A statement from the executive director". News release ( Toronto : CRRF, Jan. 16, 2002 )

31  Wilbur MacDonald speaking in the PEI legislature, Hansard, Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly, Third session of the 61st General Assembly, April 19, 2002 : , page 1730 of Hansard, page 36 of the PDF file.


[32]   Shirley Seward and Kathryn McDade, Immigrant women in Canada: A policy perspective (Ottawa: Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, 1988); Roderic Beaujot, Metropolis literature review: The demographic perspective (Ottawa: Strategic Policy, Planning and Research and Metropolis Project Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 1996); K. G. Basavarajappa and S. S. Halli, A comparative study of immigrant and non-immigrant families in Canada, with special reference to income, 1986, International Migration, volume 34, number 3, (1996) pages 225-252.

[33]   Statistics Canada , Women in Canada 2000, page 246.

[34]   Justine Kiwanuka, Refugees with disabilities: Living a full life in Canada , in Diane Driedger, Irene Feika and Eileen Girón Batres (Eds.) Across Borders: Women with Disabilities Working Together. Charlottetown , PEI : Gynergy Books, 1996.

[35]   For info on women being sexually abused in refugee camps, and sex-for-food in refugee camps, see Amnesty International, Women's Rights are Human Rights: Resources for information and action (Ottawa: Amnesty International Canada, 2002):; for statistics on the higher rates of sexual and physical assault against women with disabilities, see Jillian Ridington, Beating the Odds: Violence and Women with Disabilities (DisAbled Women's Network, 1989) pages 1, 6.

[36]   Statistics Canada , Women in Canada : A Statistical Report (3rd edition) (Ottawa: Minister of Industry, 1995)

[37]   Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System, Report of the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System ( Toronto : Queen's Printer for Ontario )

[38]   Cherry Kingsley, Sacred lives: Canadian Aboriginal children and youth speak out about sexual exploitation ( Toronto : Save the Children Canada, 2000)

[39]   National Association of Women and the Law, National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women, La Table féministe francophone de concertation provinciale de l'Ontario, West Coast Domestic Workers Association, West Coast LEAF, Le movement ontarien des femmes immigrantes de l'Ontario, Brief on the proposed Immigrant and Refugee Protection Act (Bill C-11), submitted to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, April 2001 (Ottawa: National Association of Women and the Law, 2001)

[40]   Ana Elena Obando, CIMA (Interamerican Concertation of Women's Human Rights Activists ( Costa Rica )), The WCAR in the post-Sept. 11 World Order (Women's Human Rights Net, Dec. 10, 2001 ) 

[41]   The mission of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation: "The Foundation is committed to building a national framework for the fight against racism in Canadian society. We will shed light on the causes and manifestations of racism; provide independent, outspoken national leadership; and act as a resource and facilitator in the pursuit of equity, fairness, and social justice."