Discrimination in the Post-Secondary Environment

The prevalence of discrimination and gender-based violence across Canadian post-secondary campuses is striking. While gender-based violence can impact anyone, young women and transgender peoples are particularly vulnerable, with 1-in-5 women experiencing a sexual assault during their studies, and nearly half of transgender individuals experiencing sexual assault over their lifetime. Further, young Indigenous women are disproportionately likely to experience gender-based violence, making post-secondary campuses particularly unsafe for a population already facing intergenerational trauma. It’s time for real action to end gender-based violence on Canadian post-secondary campuses.

In addition to gender-based violence, systemic barriers based on discrimination are continuing to keep many equity-seeking groups in Canada from accessing post-secondary education. Indigenous students particularly continue to face barriers to accessing post-secondary education. According to the Assembly of First Nations, 7-in-10 First Nations youth want to participate in post-secondary education, but a survey conducted on the educational attainment of Indigenous Peoples in Canada indicated that only 48.4% of Indigenous peoples had a post-secondary credential, compared with 64.7% of non-Indigenous Peoples. With BIPOC and LGBTQ post-secondary students across the country standing up on their campuses to call out this systemic discrimination, it’s clear that much more needs to be done to make the post-secondary environment a safe and empowering place for all.

As such, CASA recommends that the Government of Canada do the following to #CloseTheGaps around post-secondary discrimination:

  • Create a national standard to address gender-based violence at post-secondary institutions, outlining the minimum services needed on campus to prevent sexual violence and support those students who have been impacted by it.
  • Ensure legislation currently before Parliament enshrining the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into Canadian law is passed before the end of the current Parliamentary session.