Richard Sharpe has been a human rights advocate for 30 years, both at the community and institutional levels. Until the beginning of this year, he worked within the Canadian Federal Public Service where he held several national positions representing employees as both a union representative and as a leader in employee-led organizations. In 2017 he co-founded the first Black employee network in the federal government, the Federal Black Employee Caucus, to tackle anti-Black racism in that institution. He held the position of Director of Equity, Anti-racism, Diversity and Inclusion at the Department of Justice Canada, where he spearheaded department and enterprise-wide initiatives to address long-standing discriminatory practices in the federal government. He is currently the Director of the Black Equity Branch, Treasury Board Secretariat in the Ontario Public Service.
At the community level, Richard was instrumental in forming the 613/819 National Capital Region Black Hub to bring together Black community members and organizations to collectively address anti-Black racism in areas such as education, policing, and mental health. He has also been involved in leading initiatives to realize the objectives of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (UNDPAD), including securing government support for Black Economic Inclusion initiatives and being part of Black community efforts to create the National Institute for People of African Descent (NIPAD). In December 2022, he was part of the Canadian civil society delegation at the United Nations Permanent Forum for People of African Descent.
Richard has championed disaggregated socio-demographic data collection efforts at all levels and in all sectors. His work regionally and nationally is intended to improve the condition of Black and African diaspora communities in Canada. Richard is a sought-after speaker for his frank commentary on systemic racism, anti-black racism and allyship, and for his concrete solutions for action and results. His opinion pieces have been published in the Ottawa Citizen and LinkedIn.
Richard is proud to be a child of immigrants of Jamaican ancestry, and the eldest of six. His roles as father and partner are the two that he holds most dear.
What’s something about you that would surprise others to know:
I have been vegan for 35 years.
Organization: Black Equity Branch, Ontario Public Service
What unique role do you or your organization play in the progressive movement in Canada?
The promotion of Black Inclusion in policy and program development within institutions.
What part of movement infrastructure are you interested in building in the next decade?
Institutional change and transformation that focusses on anti-racism, anti-black racism, and substantive equality.
Share a book, article, podcast, or piece of art that captures where you want the movement to go.
Mission & Mandate
To achieve equity and social inclusion for Black OPS employees. The branch acts as a change agent for cultural transformation, develops policies and procedures that dismantle systemic barriers, and delivers programs that support Black employees’ career advancement and well-being.
Who is your audience? Who are you trying to influence and engage?
Ontario Public Service Employees, Black people living in Ontario. Leaders at all level of government.
One thing people might not know about your organization
Second largest public service in Canada other than the Federal Public Service
A win you’re celebrating with your organization
The establishment of my branch is an institutional investment in addressing anti-black racism into the foreseeable future.
A challenge you’re working through with your organization
The slow pace of change. Status quo leadership. Fear of change.