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Systemic racism ‘runs very deep’ in Canada, Freeland says

Click to play video 'Freeland says ‘racism runs very deep in Canada’ when asked about N.S. fisheries dispute' Freeland says ‘racism runs very deep in Canada’ when asked about N.S. fisheries dispute
WATCH: Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Tuesday that "racism runs very deep in Canada" when asked about the dispute over Mi’kmaq fishing rights in Nova Scotia – Oct 20, 2020

In the wake of the violence towards Indigenous fishers in Nova Scotia, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Tuesday that systemic racism runs deep in the country.

Speaking at a media conference, Freeland was asked by a reporter about the clashes over Indigenous fishing rights.

Read more: ‘Please don’t paint my riding as racist,’ Nova Scotia MP says amid Mi’kmaq lobster debate

“We were appalled by the violence that we saw and we know as a country we need to do better and need to find a resolution,” Freeland said. “But systemic racism, in this case, specifically toward Indigenous people in Canada, runs very deep in our history.”

Freeland said she has reflected in on her own upbringing and beliefs and hopes other Canadians are doing the same as the country continues the long road to reconciliation.

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Tensions between local commercial fishers and Mi’kmaq fishers in the province have escalated in recent weeks, resulting in several suspected cases of arson and multiple arrests.

Non-Indigenous lobster fishers have destroyed traps and catch, and violent mobs have threatened Mi’kmaq lobster fishers.

Click to play video 'Fire destroys Nova Scotia lobster pound used by Mi’kmaq fishers' Fire destroys Nova Scotia lobster pound used by Mi’kmaq fishers
Fire destroys Nova Scotia lobster pound used by Mi’kmaq fishers – Oct 17, 2020

During an emergency debate Monday in the House of Commons about the conflict, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the dispute over Indigenous fishing rights is an example of systemic racism.

“I think it’s really important for all of us in Canada to acknowledge that there is systemic racism in Canada … towards Indigenous people,” Freeland said. “It is helpful for us to acknowledge that with all the pain and difficulty that it brings.”