How do we know racial profiling exists in Canada?

Black, Indigenous, Asian, Arab, and other racialized communities have for decades raised their voices about being stopped disproportionately and without good reason by police. University researchers, investigative journalists, community organizers and official reports have also raised these concerns based on evidence they have collected. Police stop-and-arrest data also show a clear difference in police interactions based on race in Canada. Today, courts in Canada recognize racial profiling.

Many 2SLGBTQI+ individuals, people who experience homelessness, and people with disabilities feel singled out by police, and report being stopped or harassed disproportionately. This is increased for people who face intersecting forms of discrimination (e.g., a racialized person with a disability).

Evidence of racial bias in policing comes from reports and from policing bodies

(and some of the numbers might be even worse than what the reported data shows):


Between 2008 and 2017, 15 percent of all police “street checks” involved Indigenous people, even though only 2 percent of the total population is Indigenous. In particular, Indigenous women, who comprise 2 percent of women in Vancouver, accounted for 21 percent of women “street checked.” Similarly, even though Black residents make up less than 1 per cent of the total population of Vancouver, 4 percent of those stopped by police were Black.


Black residents are over 3 to 5 times more likely to be carded (stopped and asked for ID) than others, with Indigenous women also disproportionately overrepresented.


Arab and West Asian residents have a slightly higher “street check” rate than white residents according to a study of the years 2006 to 2017.


From 2013 to 2017, Black people were charged by police 3.9 times more than white people, and 7.1 times more than people from other racialized groups. Yet Black people were also much more likely to have these charges withdrawn, or not result in conviction, compared to white people. This raises concerns as to why so many charges were laid in the first place.


Between 2014 and 2017, an Indigenous person was 4.6 times more likely to be stopped for a “street check” (a stop that does not result in arrest) by police than a white person. A Black person was 4.2 times more likely, and Arab Montrealers were twice as likely to be stopped than white Montrealers.


Over the 12-year period from 2006 to 2017, Black people were 6.1 times more likely to be “street checked” (stopped by the police and have their information recorded) than white people. Black males were seven times more likely to be stopped and checked than white males, and 23 times more likely to be stopped and checked than white females.