A Canadian View: Systemic Racism

by | Sep 10, 2020 | Formation, Reflections | 2 comments

Systemic racism is a HOT topic in today’s world. I know it can cause comments from various and very difference perspectives. I am old enough to remember the 1960’s civil rights movement and was astounded to hear that a black person in many USA states would have to go to a separate water fountain, sit in a cinema balcony, go to the back of the bus or simply not be allowed in some restaurants or hotels. I watched as black college students needed an armed guard to enter school. I watched innocent young children who were killed in a church bombing and when Martin Luther King was murdered. The 60’s also included a civil rights law signed by a president from Texas! The 70’s had protests about police brutality and voting rights. Isn’t it amazing how much things have improved! George Floyd’s family may disagree.

Canadians have usually sat back and watched what was happening just south of our border, thinking we are so lucky not be have these problems. Well, as our present day recognition of systemic racism evolves, we in Canada must also face reality that while our racism would likely not reach the more open level we have seen in the USA, we must come to terms with the issue of racism. We too need to listen to racialized groups and learn from past errors while taking positive actions for our future.

I have been honoured to know some great and caring Americans from my involvement with the Vinfam social justice group I belong to as well as from other organizations. We are one family within this larger Vincentian family. We care about all people experiencing poverty and injustice in North America and globally. As only a couple of our group are Canadian and the rest Americans, I do feel great sorrow for what is happening regarding both Covid 19 and systemic racism in the USA. I pray for my friends and those who are suffering during these trying times. I pray for the leadership at all levels of government that is so crucial to conquering this Covid 19 pandemic as well as the plague of racism. It is truly time for some GOOD TROUBLE! May God bless the United States of America!

About the author:

Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.


Opinions expressed are the author’s own views and do not officially represent those of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Tags: Canada, Racism


  1. Larry Huber

    Thanks for posting this. Oftentimes, being on the outside looking in can be a helpful perspective.
    From time to time, an attitude or perspective of my own will surface and it startles me. Recalling old experiences and addressing them as an adult has become a key factor for me. Many things frightened me (or more correctly, were simply foreign to me) when I was a kid. Over time and with the perspective of age and experience, I can examine them and make adjustments that acknowledge that “different” does not equate with “bad.” Different is just different.
    I can’t stop old memories from flooding in from time to time, but I can stop treating them as though they are the current world in which I live.
    Change, as always, has to start with me.