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What is the Effect of the Black Lives Matter Movement on Canadian Businesses?

The death of George Floyd marked a racial reckoning not only in the United States but also in Canada and the rest of the world. As millions took to the streets to raise their voice for racial injustice, the movement caused a ripple effect across Canada and the United States, affecting communities and businesses. 

People all over the world wanted to support Black businesses, while others boycotted white supremacist brands. Half of those who protested said that this was their first time getting involved in a demonstration; many said they did it after watching a video of police violence towards protestors or the Black community.

Is Systematic Racism Being Addressed?

In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, many want to know what the Canadian government and local communities are doing to support Black businesses. Wesley Hall, a Canadian businessman and entrepreneur, spearheaded an initiative known as the BlackNorth pledge to support the Black community. Its goal is to foster better representation of the Black community in Canada.

The pledge includes a list of policies companies can adopt to expand diversity in the workplace. More than 450 companies in Canada have already signed the pledge to hire more Black people in leadership and education positions. The pledge aims to create and share strategic inclusion and diversity plans across Canada’s corporate world. 

Several well-known Canadian companies signed the BlackNorth pledge, including companies like Hudson Bay, Rogers, Air Canada, Roots, Molson and others. Hall staunchly believes that the movement to support the Black community across Canada will cause a ripple effect, inspiring others to take action. 

Although the roadblock Black Canadians face might seem daunting, initiatives like BlackNorth are a step in the right direction. Many Black Canadians face harsh aggression in the workplace; a report by CivicAction noted that Black Canadian students were four times more likely to be expelled from a high school than white students. The report revealed that Black university graduates earn only 80 cents for every dollar owned by White university graduates.

What is the State of Black Owned Businesses?

Many Black-owned businesses in Canada are struggling financially. According to Statistics Canada, Black businesses faced challenges like access to funding and were under-represented, especially when it comes to research and data. 

Many Black-owned businesses in Canada make lower incomes than their counterparts; they also face other hurdles like lack of access to support and advice. More than half of the Black business owners in Canada were immigrants, they remarkably faced more barriers in opening, and operating a business, and gaining access to capital. 

In light of the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, the Black Health Alliance, a community-based registered charity, received a surge of donations in 2020. The Black Health Alliance wasn’t the only organization to receive attention. Many other nonprofits and charities supporting the Black community were featured on blogs, magazines, and social media websites to rally the cause of racial injustice and raise awareness on the plight of Black Canadians.

For example, in 2019, the Toronto-based Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC) saw donations grow from $12,046 in 2019 to more than $ 2.4 million in 2020. Other charities like Black Lives Matter Canada also saw a spike in donations. 

How Can Black Owned Businesses Receive Support

Many struggling Black-owned businesses can receive the support they need, especially after the pandemic, inflation, and pervasive discrimination and bias. The government of Canada has spearheaded several financial and educational support programs. 

The Black entrepreneurship program, for example, has a wealth of strategic plans to help Black Canadian business owners and entrepreneurs grow their businesses. The partnership between the government of Canada and Black-led business organizations and financial institutions provides much-needed support for Black Canadians with little or no access to funding. Other programs include the Black Chamber of Commerce, Afro Business Directory, and Small Business Grants Canada.

The number of Black Canadian businesses is estimated at 66,880, representing 2.1 per cent of business owners in Canada. Although the figure is gradually rising, many Black-owned businesses still face unique challenges; you can do much to support them. One way is by shopping from a Black-owned business, promoting a Black-owned business on social media, or including one in local community events. 

Canada is one of the most ethnically diverse nations in the world. Although there is discrimination, the Canadian government has a wealth of support networks to help entrepreneurs start and grow a business! 

David Messiha | Staff Writer 

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