To the North: Another Necessary Apology

‘Far too many times, we have failed you’: Halifax police chief issues historic apology for racial profiling

“Rockmen Parris stood at the back of the room on Friday, listening to the Halifax police chief’s historic apology for racial profiling by officers, and couldn’t help thinking about his own family history.

Chief Kinsella and Rockmen Parris

“His grandfather, Gerald Parris, fought and trained alongside white soldiers in the Second World War, but wasn’t allowed to go to the Legion when he returned home. When the City of Halifax demolished Africville, a black seaside community that flourished until the 1960s, Mr. Parris’s family was booted from their land.

“That same systemic racism that has been a fact of life for black Nova Scotians for centuries still exists today, he said. That’s why he greeted Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella’s apology over the now-banned practice of street checks with cautious optimism.

“Chief Kinsella said street checks – a practice that stopped black people at a rate six times higher than whites, according to a recent study – often left young black men feeling humiliated and only deepened mistrust of the police. The controversial policy of logging information about people that police interacted with was banned last October after it was deemed illegal.” [From PERF News and “The Globe and Mail.”]

The first step is the easiest. The next one a little touchy, do we really want to say that this is OUR fault? The Third step is the one that is most needed and visibly absent: what are the changes being made to make sure this does not happen again?

For apologies to “stick,” and reconciliation to follow is going to take a strong community connection with what you and your organization are doing to prevent biased policing from happening in the first place.

Chief. are you up to this?

[Note: Use the search term “apology” to find posts on other efforts to apologize.]


  1. An important development by Halifax police chief to end racial profiling and to repair community trust in policing there. The test will be time and need for reorienting officers toward more just practices.


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