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Lynn Jones: Open letter to Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission

Lynn Jones. Photo Robert Devet

Dear Commissioner Landry,

I had the privilege of meeting you during your first few months in office when you visited Halifax and met with a few People in the Black Community, myself included, to learn first hand our suggestions and concerns regarding the operations of the commission, past, present and future and it’s impact upon our community. 

I was highlighted in your resulting national publication which outlined what you heard and also stated strategies moving forward. I was truly impressed with your commitments.

I have been further impressed with your willingness to challenge racism and discrimination in your public statements which have been very timely, are clear and concise and well designed to elicit immediate action. 

What I am not as pleased about, has been your ability to address the systemic racism and discrimination throughout the Federal Public Service (FPS) and your lack of resolve to attack the Corporate Culture Change that will actually result in the differences we are seeking. 

Your present announcement regarding a review of gaps in management positions for African People in the FPS is another way of stalling the need to make the changes required. The time for reviews is over. That work has been done a multitude of times over an embarrassing number of years. 

During my 35+ year time in the FPS, I’d been employed on many of the programs supposedly to do what you are again doing today yet nothing has changed and the gaps remain. I’ve been retired for almost ten years now. I was an officer on the “Embracing Change Initiative“. It had 5 year and 10 year goals for change. Goals were never met and departments, due to the voluntary nature of the initiative, cited a myriad of reasons as to why they couldn’t (wouldn’t) change and achieve the recommendations outlined  The Federal Contractors Program  was canceled because politicians found it hard to answer to businesses who refused to meet their suggested goals. Regional programs that found some success were dropped due to lack of national funds and upper management enforcement.  

The Employment Equity Program, which had a strong legal framework and a targeted equity group framework was all but rendered obsolete in favour of the new “Diversity“ initiatives which was designed to be more “palatable“ because it presented no legal framework and employers and all people (especially able bodied white males) could find comfort in knowing “we all are different and therefore we all deserve program and service intervention. Gone were specific programs for the “designated groups”.  And while you’re at it, don’t even mention the word designated groups  because remember, we are all diverse. Employment Equity was passé’ and resulting changes never forthcoming. 

Yet still today, all we can expect is another review. This is horrendous!!

Oh yeah, I forgot mention that these numerous reviews resulted in coveted employment for people who never look like us and usually seek us out for needed information so they can hang the “expert and consultant“ signs on their doors which in turn allows them to demand more money for their services this and the next time around. 

At some point in time this situation needs to stop and we all need to jump off the treadmill and get down to the real job of getting things done. The time is now. 

Ms Landry, just turn your head a little to the right (not politically:)), take a look around your departments, start filling the gaps by hiring the people in the numbers and levels the Employment Equity Act laid out from the beginning and pat yourselves on the back (socially distanced) as you celebrate in true style. It’s really quite easy to do and will save you a lot of time and effort in creating and staffing those reviews and reports. 

Judge Rosalie Abella meant for Black Lives to matter in 1984 when she chaired the commission to address systemic racism and discrimination in the FPS. Lets make Black Lives matter in 2020 as you conduct your duties as Commisioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. 

Don’t worry- we’ll be with you all the way!!


Lynn Jones, Halifax, Nova Scotia

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  1. Another wake up call. Let’s see whoIs really listening this time around. Well said sister Lynn.

  2. Great Lynn
    Well done,clear and direct. That is what is
    needed,with very clear directions for anti racism actions,if one is serious and true.

  3. Thank you Lynn for your tireless activism and service. We are so grateful for you, your commitment and the truth! I sure hope Commissioner Landry adds the right amount of postage to her return letter so it isn’t returned to the sender again! For the trails you blaze and the paths you lead Lynn, we thank you! Much respect! Ubuntu!


  4. Thank you Lynn for always leading the way on these issues. It is exhausting being in a system that refuses to recognize the skills, education, experience and ambitions of racialized employees. The ceiling for us is not glass, but rather, it is concrete. We need the kind of push back and activism that comes from people like you to enforce change in the FPS.

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