Colors of COVID

Thierry Lindor and Tiffany Callender (centre)

Colors of COVID project to do the job the Quebec government won’t

Collecting race-based pandemic data is an essential service.

In the wake of the Quebec government’s inaction on collecting race-based data related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new online endeavour called Colors of COVID (COC) is stepping in. The platform, which features a voluntary and anonymous survey, was launched last week by entrepreneur Thierry Lindor with local community organizations Hoodstock, the Côte-des-Neiges Black Community Association (CDNBCA) and the Federation of Black Canadians.

“We’ve watched the Legault government, during a health crisis, promise to collect race-based data and then decide to do an about-face on this despite seeing in different cities across the world that People of Colour (POC) are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Tiffany Callender of the CDNBCA. “Quebec being the epicentre of the pandemic in Canada and Montreal being the epicentre of the province, we are dismayed that the provincial government did not see fit to collect his data so that it could guide the efforts and the protocols and programs that they could put in place to support the Black community and other visible minorities.”

Back in June, a CBC analysis of census data noted that the poorest, most racially diverse neighbourhoods in Montreal were hardest hit by COVID-19, finding correlations between race, housing, income and virus transmission. Along with amassing data about COVID-19 cases, recoveries and deaths, Colors of COVID will collect information about issues like food insecurity, job losses and mental health issues during the pandemic.

The day after the launch of COC, it was reported that Congolese Canadian teenager Don Béni Kabangu Nsapu had died from the virus in Terrebonne at the age of 19, making him the youngest COVID victim in Quebec.

COC co-founder Thierry Lindor commented on Facebook:

“I wish our elected officials could understand their responsibility in this senseless death. Our inability to protect our most vulnerable during this crisis as taken too many lives, especially black and brown. If Black lives are Black experiences and these experiences are information; Black information is essentially data and data can be converted into knowledge. Now knowledge — during a pandemic — can save lives. Consequently, if we agree that Black Lives Matter, we can also conclude that Black Data Matters.”

When asked whether the province’s failure to collect data about COVID and POC is connected to the Premier’s denial of systemic racism, Callender said maybe.

“The Legault government is refusing to acknowledge that there are inequities that exist in our society and that Quebec is not exempt from having systems in place that create barriers in access and opportunity for People of Colour. I don’t know if his opinion informed the Quebec government to not collect this data, but the correlation is definitely there.” ■

For more details and to fill out the survey, please visit the Colors of COVID website.

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