CIMA & BDRB Release First Volume of Their Report on Ending Anti-Black Racism in the Canadian Music Industry

Michael Raine
July 12, 2022

The Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) and Breaking Down Racial Barriers (BDRB) hosted the release of the Breaking Down Racial Barriers Report: Anti-Black Racism in the Canadian Music Industry (Volume 1) on Feb,. 28, 2022, to review its key findings and actionable steps in continuing to dismantle anti-Black racism across Canada’s music community. The report, borne of 2020’s inaugural 10-part series exploring the systemic barriers faced by our Black peers, is an essential tool to guide individuals and companies in our sector to build more equitable workplaces and creative spaces.

“This report may be the first of its kind in the Canadian music industry,” says CIMA’s President, Andrew Cash. “It methodically breaks down how we all can begin to challenge, confront and dismantle anti-black racism in our sector.”

The vision for BDRB was developed, co-ordinated, and facilitated by creators Ian Andre Espinet and David “Click” Cox, with CIMA as founding partner, centred in the voices and lived experiences of working Black music professionals from the vast segments of the Canadian music and entertainment industry. Their leadership has seen this program host conversations across Canada, specific to Black communities and their individual lived experiences from coast to coast.

“Systemic racism at the institutional, governmental and organizational levels has been acknowledged. Meaningful discussions for action and change are beginning to take place,” says BDRB co-founder Ian Andre Espinet. “To create actionable, sustainable change, we must seek to understand the root causes and actual impact of anti-Black racism. BDRB Volume 1 is a step in the process toward the eradication of anti-Black and systemic racism in the Canadian music industry.”

To mark the publication of this report, the release event further explored CIMA’s Statement Against Community Violence and Commitment to Equity and Inclusion and new online resources. A section for equity-focused resources, developed with Tenniel Brown (Centre for Anti-Oppression), will live on CIMA’s website. Where the Report aims to educate creatives and businesses in anti-Black racism, this section will evolve and be updated regularly with additional avenues for information, support, and opportunities for equity-seeking peers in Canada’s music industry. There is a form at the bottom of the page for those who would like to submit ideas to include within the Equity Resources section.

“The Equity Committee and I are pleased to launch these resources, easily available on the CIMA website,” says CIMA’s Equity Committee Chair, David “Click” Cox. “This list was created to help our members and industry access valuable information which will guide them on their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work.”

To ensure that these conversations and efforts are rooted in the present and well beyond the celebrations of excellence which mark Black History Month, CIMA and BDRB are presenting a new series of workshops for 2022: Next Steps. These sessions will be based on the tenets set out in the BDRB Declaration and Report, with an expanded lens for Black, Indigenous, AAPI, People of Colour, and marginalized groups who continue to fight for racial justice and equity for their valuable work in the music industry.

The goal of Next Steps is to increase understanding of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the Canadian music industry. Through recurring sessions, the program will see specific disciplines of our industry paired with DEI specialists to discuss and develop ACTIONABLE solutions and recommendations for music companies, arts workers, artists, live sector workers, and more. Detailed information will be available in the coming weeks.

The BDRB report launch concluded with a moving performance of Ocean (Reprise) by Adria Kain.

Michael Raine

Michael Raine is the Editor-In-Chief at NWC, publisher of Canadian Musician, Professional Sound, Professional Lighting & Production, and Canadian Music Trade magazines. He is also a co-host of the popular Canadian Musician Podcast. Michael has extensively covered nearly all aspects of the Canadian music business, as well as the pro audio, musical products, and the lighting and production industries.