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Raymond Sheppard: Lack of consultation diminishes premier’s apology

Premier Stephen McNeil apologizes. Photo NovaScotia.ca

KJIPUKTUK (Halifx) – On September 29, 2020 Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil apologized for systemic racism in the justice system within the province that has left Black and Indigenous Nova Scotians marginalized.

The Premier said, “our system of justice, from policing to courts to corrections, has failed many members of our Black community. A system that is supposed to keep you safe, but because of the color of your skin you fear it.”  

“Today, I say, ‘Enough.’ I want you to know I hear you, I see you, I believe you, and I am sorry. On behalf of my ministers, my caucus, our government, we are sorry.” 

The Nova Scotia government says it wants to restructure the justice system to eliminate racism and promote equality. 

Of course this is not possible without total commitment and solid enforceable penalties for those within the system that continues to promote inequality and racism. This initiative must also have strict proactive consultation with the African Nova Scotian community and the Mi’kmaq community, which has not taken place thus far.

Although the Premier’s words are based in truth, the reasoning behind this announcement is suspect. What is behind this announcement and why now after African Nova Scotians have suffered so long even during his years as Premier?

Well, it is my belief that the Premier McNeil is attempting to put in place an exit strategy in order to try and cement his legacy and maybe line himself up for a lucrative senate seat. Time will reveal all!

I believe there was a lack of consultation with the African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq communities. The communities never put forth names for this committee and most of the names of those chosen/appointed to be a part of this committee seem to be connected to the Government of Nova Scotia and therefore might value their jobs more than equality, fairness and human rights.

There definitely should be more Persons of Color on this committee, because we are the victims of this injustice system and the racism within.

The details of this initiative are few and the communities of those most affected by racism and Injustice should know more of the details and the plan of action. For example, what power will be invested in this committee to make the necessary binding recommendations? Is there a plan to implement those recommendations?

BLACK LIVES NEED TO KNOW!

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