International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Written by  Unifor 506

March 21st “International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination”1racialdiscrim

On March 21st, people around the world celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of

Racial Discrimination. Recognition of the importance of eradicating racial discrimination and the

social, economic, political and cultural damage caused by racism, xenophobia and bigotry

remain central to the fight for social justice for all people.

If we are to build a better world, one in which we demonstrate a commitment to justice, equity

and inclusion, we must learn the lessons of our history. We must examine the role of the State,

 its institutions and ourselves in creating, perpetuating and upholding systems, assumptions and

beliefs that exclude others from opportunity, security and equality.

Canada is diverse and it is peaceful, but examples of discrimination, both historic and recent,

mar our image and our ideals. Canada’s ongoing maltreatment of its Indigenous populations are

just one example. The United Nations has repeatedly, and rightly, observed that Indigenous

peoples in Canada live in third world conditions with high unemployment, mass poverty, high

 suicide rates, sub-standard housing and a lack of infrastructure.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission echoed these concerns and further noted that

Indigenous women face these obstacles along with the added burdens of violence and abuse.

The numbers of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada is staggering. Our

delayed response to this crisis ant those facing Indigenous people generally, must be

 considered through a lens of discrimination because only then will we get to the root causes.

Absent that, there will be no reconciliation.

Racism is ugly, it is harmful and its roots are deep and insidious. To combat it we must be

willing to be uncomfortable and committed to examining our attitudes, our behaviour and our


Trade unionists have long been clear that dividing workers weakens them and gives power to

employers. If we are to continue to build a strong, diverse and inclusive labour movement, we

must support, encourage and strengthen participation of all workers, including racialized

workers. We must make room for all voices and their experiences in our governance structures,

in our policy initiatives and in our workplaces.

We must teach future generations that tolerance isn’t enough; that acceptance of difference

strengthens, not weakens, us. We must stand together every day, not just on March 21st.  When

we stand together in true solidarity, we will have answered the question, “when will racism

end?”. It is our genuine hope that concerted, ongoing and committed efforts, will lead to the day

where our children and their children will not know racism as a part of their lived experience. We

can and should aspire to such a day. HR/MA/March 21- 2016/so:cope343

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