Sometimes as Canadians we find ourselves watching our neighbours down South in disbelief. We hear of the consistent discrimination and injustice faced by BIPOC individuals on the daily but sometimes we forget that this happens every day in our country too. Most recently, Twitter users were made aware of a former MP being singled out by security on Parliament Hill for wearing an MP pin. Although these pins have allegedly not changed in design since 2005 and are valid passes for former MPs for life, Celina Caesar-Chavannes was singled out and it is suspected this was racially motivated.
Discrimination on Parliament Hill
On #ParliamentHill today & wore black so my MP pin would be visible. Security asked What is that? as if pins have changed & Where did I get it? as if I stole it & escorted me through security. Another former MP entered after & walked right in. I see nothing has changed #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/gJRL7VGDDS— Celina Caesar (like the salad)-Chavannes (sh-van) (@iamcelinacc) June 12, 2022
On June 12th, Celina Caesar-Chavannes, a former Liberal MP from Whitby, was singled out while visiting Parliament Hill. She tweeted that for her visit she wore black so her MP pin would be visible; a little MP pride never hurt anyone, right? Well unfortunately that isn’t the case as Celina left Parliament Hill feeling hurt after the security team gave her a hard time. She was asked by security what the pin was, if the pins have changed and where she got it. She expresses in the tweet that the security guards treated her as if she stole the pin. They even escorted her through security despite the fact that another former MP was able to enter without any hassle. Celina said that she sees “nothing has changed” at Parliament Hill.
This isn’t the first time Celina has experienced something like this in Canadian politics. In her new book, “Can You Hear Me Now” she details that we need politics to be different as “people like me keep trying to fit into spaces like the House of Commons, which runs according to a narrative of power and privilege designed to exclude us.” As a black woman, entrepreneur and politician, Celina has been breaking boundaries, making a difference and standing up for BIPOC individuals along the way.
Celina isn’t Alone
After Celina posted her tweet detailing her situation at Parliament Hill, multiple users posted responses with similar experiences.
Damn. The everyday indignities that we face as Black ppl, due to structural anti-Black racism, create an extra layer of stress, a wear & tear on our health. It adds up. So we have to be intentional & radical about self-care + collective resistance. Be well sis. We love u, Queen❤️— Dr. Onye Nnorom (@OnyeActiveMD) June 12, 2022
Dr.Onye Nnorom, a Public Health doctor, tweeted in response that structural anti-Black racism “create an extra layer of stress, a wear & tear on our health. It adds up. So we have to be intentional & radical about self-care and collective resistance.”
Someone I went on a tour with once (spoiler alert: not white) got sooooo much trouble from these guards once over not being able to raise their arms fully (due to shoulder injury) for a search…. Super welcoming.— Alexandra Yarrow (@alexyarrow) June 12, 2022
Another user details that they once went on a tour at Parliament Hill and witnessed a BIPOC individual be subjected to trouble from the security guards after not being able to life their arms fully for a search due to a shoulder injury.
Sorry this happened to you, it’s unacceptable.— Tabassum Wyne (@TabassumWyne) June 12, 2022
I was on the Hill for five meetings with Parliamentarians last week and I was searched/patted down five times by security. So was my board of director. Both hijab wearing women.
Tabassum Wyne, another user, commented saying that when she was on the Hill for five meetings with Parliamentarians last week that she was “searched/patted down five times by security. So was the board of director. Both hijab wearing women.”
This incident should be a call to action for the Parliament’s security team to re-evaluate the way they have targeted BIPOC individuals.