Understanding Anti-Brown Racism

Raj Dhir, Executive Director and Chief Legal Counsel Ontario Human Rights Commission
Thursday, November 12, 2020 - 9:00am to 11:00am


Is there a unique “Brown” identity in Canada? Does being “Brown” expose someone to different and unique forms of racism or  discrimination not experienced by Black, Asian or Indigenous people? This presentation will explore anti-Brown racism through a human rights lens based on the unique experiences of South and Southeast Asians, Middle Easterners, Latin Americans, and North Africans in Canada.  We will explore the different manifestations of this racism – whether it is direct or systemic – based on distinct cultural stereotypes, religious differences, and economic insecurity.  Finally, we will examine how the experience of combatting these forms of anti-Brown racism has not only contributed to our understanding of discrimination, but also expanded the scope of human rights protection   in Canada. 

Workshop Goals:

•Explore how race is socially constructed and the meaning and impact of anti-Brown racism

•Enhance attendees’ capacity to identify dominant manifestations of anti-Brown racism at both individual and organizational levels

•Strengthen attendees’ abilities to utilize a human rights framework to understand and constructively address anti-Brown racism

Raj Dhir, B.Sc., LL.B, J.D., LL.M
Executive Director and Chief Legal Counsel Ontario Human Rights Commission

Raj Dhir is the Executive Director and Chief Legal Counsel at the Ontario Human Rights Commission. He was previously a Portfolio Director with the Ministry of the Attorney General Civil Law Division, where he was responsible for the coordination and provision of legal advice for the government across ten different Legal Services Branches and leading the development of an Anti-Racism Action Plan. He also served as the Legal Director at the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation (as it was then) and as Deputy Legal Director in roles at Crown Law Office Civil and the Constitutional Law Branch within the Ministry of the Attorney General and in the Ministry of Labour (Litigation and Solicitor Practices). 

Mr. Dhir also spent more than 11 years as counsel at the Ontario Human Rights Commission where he litigated and advised on a variety of human rights matters and appeared before administrative tribunals and at all levels of court up to and including the Supreme Court of Canada.  As counsel, he appeared on several high profile cases such as Multani v. Commission Scholaire Marguerite Bourgeoys, which dealt with the right of a Khalsa Sikh student to wear his kirpan at school; Nassiah v. Peel Regional Police Services, the first Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario case to make a finding of racial profiling in policing; ADGA Group Consultants v. Lane, a case which dealt with mental health discrimination in employment; Ontario Human Rights Commission v. Christian Horizons, which looked at competing rights; the Commission initiated complaint against the Ministry of Education and the TDSB on the application of the Safe Schools Act; and the initial Jahn v. Ontarioapplication which addresses the circumstances of prisoners with mental health disabilities who are being placed in segregation. 

Mr. Dhir has a B.Sc. from McGill University, an LL.B from the University of Windsor, a J.D. from the University of Detroit, and an LLM from York University (Osgoode Hall Law School).  He was also one of the founding members of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.