Canada is known to be welcoming to immigrants. Others also say it is a more cosmopolitan country compared to the United States.
There is still some more groundwork to be done if a student without an ID can be racially profiled and harassed by security officials on campus.
A black student skateboarding on campus was stopped by police this June in what seems to be a not so random street check. In the age of digital media, he managed to record the encounter on his phone and subsequently tweeted the videos of the incident.
According to CTV News, on the tape, a male voice, now identified as a security guard, is heard saying, “If you don’t start walking off campus, I’m going to arrest you right now … You’re under arrest for trespassing.”
According to Boyce, he told them he was a student of the university but did not have his wallet or any form of identification on him at the time of the encounter.
For more than two hours on the campus road, he was handcuffed and humiliated mainly because he was a black boy who happens to just want to skate in his school without his wallet.
An investigative report has confirmed this was a case of racial profiling and the University of Ottawa President Jacques Frémont has apologised to the boy in a three-minute statement.
“Racism has no place on our campus” he said. The university’s president said an investigation is underway. “We must lead by example and make all possible efforts to call out and eliminate any systemic pattern of discrimination.”
Frémont revealed the practice of asking for identification on campus, also known as carding or street checks, has been in effect for more than 27 years.
Frémont, when asked whether the security guard in question has been reprimanded for his actions, said: “They have my full confidence but of course, depending on the results of the inquiry we will look at whether disciplinary measures are in order.”
Now the enquiry is in and “the report concludes that race was a factor in the incident,” Frémont said at a news conference on Tuesday.
A professor, who has had an encounter with the system for being an ethnic minority in the country, shared his view on the matter.
Professor of Law and Medicine at uOttawa, Amir Attaran, said to CTV News: “He was detained without lawful reason and it’s quite likely he can show being black had something to do with it, which would of course be discrimination.”
“It is not trespassing for a student to be on his or her campus and skateboarding is not a crime; so, I guess this is about being black.”
Other students have also expressed concern on the matter, saying frisking people on the streets should be regulated.
Katline Racine, a Master’s student in Law, said, “The government of Ontario recently took measures to update those laws when it comes to the police service, so I don’t understand why the university is waiting until something happens to do the same.”
The June incidence did make the university implement four measures in the interim.
The school officials have always said their main aim was to make all students feel safe on campus.
President Frémont added his voice, saying, “It was my belief before the incident – and it is still my belief now – that overall, uOttawa remains a safe, accepting and inclusive community.”
“A university is a learning institution. Learning is our mission, and our raison d’être. We are – we must be – dedicated to learning from what happened and how we can do better.”