After a senior colleague at the Immigration and Refugee Board’s Toronto office reportedly lauded “the good old days when we had slaves,” a federal employee is breaking her silence on the experience of being Black in the public sector.
Monica Agard, although filing a formal complaint, claimed that the board failed to act or acknowledge the psychological impact the racist comment had on her as a Black woman.
Worse, she said that just months after the alleged remark, that same employee was promoted to Agard’s direct supervisor until she protested, at which point he was relocated approximately a week later. Her story is part of a rising chorus of Black public workers who say they have been subjected to prejudice in their ranks for decades, whether via bad treatment or being passed over for promotions.
Agard stated that, in addition to the insults, the absence of action by the immigration board made the situation “doubly unpleasant.”
Agard, a 30-year government employee, was discussing with a colleague about their workloads at her desk in November 2019 when a more senior employee walked by and intruded on their conversation, she said.
“I felt as if I was about to have a nervous collapse,” Agard wrote in a formal notice this spring, adding that she had urged the employee to cease or she would file a grievance against him.
Agard did not submit a complaint at the time of the event because she had lost faith in the system after a previous complaint against the same man was closed without explanation, and she didn’t bring it up again until he was scheduled to become her supervisor.