Quebec anti-racism ad campaign not solution, but good start: advocates

By Felisha Adam and News Staff

Anti-racism advocates are commending the Quebec government for a new anti-racism ad campaign, but they say it’s just a start and more needs to be done to tackle the root of the problem.

The advertisements are a first-of-their-kind in Quebec. There are four 15-second shorts – in French and English – meant to challenge preconceptions and dismantle racial stereotypes.

The end message: that people of different cultures are all Quebecers.

The ad campaign launched Monday on television, online and in daily newspapers.

WATCH: One of four short videos in Quebec’s new ad campaign (French version)

Unveiled by Minister Benoit Charette, the minister responsible for the fight against racism, the new campaign responds to one of the 25 recommendations in the 54-page report by the Action Group Against Racism.

The report was published in December 2020 and commissioned by the Francois Legault government.

Ant-racism advocate Margaret Wilheim is glad to see the province fulfill one of the recommendations but wants to see more concrete action to end prejudice in the province.

“Ad campaigns are not a solution, they’re there to start a discussion perhaps,” said Wilheim.
“The level of that discussion depends on the political will and also the participants who are invited at the table – are we going to get that representation?”


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While Quebec has not said systemic racism exists in the province, Premier Legault discussed the campaign by acknowledging racism exists and saying the government is working to combat it. One way, he said, is by using these ads to sensitize Quebecers.

Lawyer Kwadwo Yeboah, who filed a racial profiling complaint against Montreal police earlier this year, has his doubts about the efficacy of the campaign.

“I don’t think that anyone in the Black community would say, ‘hey, our problem, if you want to solve it, how to solve it is to make an ad to be able to understand it.’” He said. “No, the root of the problem is more severe than that.

“They should start first to recognize that there is racial profiling in Quebec, and there’s also systemic racism in Quebec. They should start with recognizing those things and then move forward with their ad campaigns.”

Yeboah says he hopes the future of Quebec is more inclusive.

“Despite what happens, Quebec will most likely be my home for the rest of my life,” he said. “But can it get better for the next generation for my children? It’s the legacy. I would like to leave them a place that’s more inclusive and more accepting for who they are, instead of being judged by their colour or their race.”

The government’s anti-racism ad campaign did face some backlash online, with users on Twitter saying the language used was not inclusive towards anglophones in Quebec. These users noted that the individuals in the videos were not referred to as Quebecers in the English version.

Charette apologized for the messaging and said the English versions would be changed.

“All Quebec citizens are Quebecers, regardless of language,” he tweeted. “It has always been clear to us that this is the case.”

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