Several Black organizations were denied federal funding through a program designed to help such groups build capacity — after Employment and Social Development Canada told them their leadership was not sufficiently Black.
Velma Morgan, the chair of Operation Black Vote, said her group received an email from the department on Tuesday saying their application did not show "the organization is led and governed by people who self-identify as Black."
The department sent a second email the next day, saying their applications were not approved because it did not receive "the information required to move forward," she said.
"As if we're incompetent or foolish and we're going to believe the second email over the original email," Morgan said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
She said Operation Black Vote, a not-for-profit, multi-partisan organization that aims to get more Black people elected at all levels of government, is one of at least five Black organizations that were not approved for funding.
Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen said the initial letter his department sent to unsuccessful applicants was "completely unacceptable" and that he demanded a retraction as soon as he saw it.
In a thread on Twitter Thursday night, Hussen said he discussed with his department's officials how such a mistake could have happened and implemented measures to make sure it does not happen again.
Morgan said the Liberal government should hire more Black people to sit at every decision-making table.
"This is an example of what happens when we don't have representation," Morgan said.