Today, March 21st, is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day recognizes the injustices and prejudices that continue to occur due to racial discrimination. It commemorates the day police in Sharpeville, South Africa opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in 1960. Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled. Racist laws and practices have been abolished in many countries, and international frameworks for fighting racism have been built.
In Canada, March 21st is an opportunity to reflect on the fact that while progress has been made, Indigenous Peoples, racialized communities and religious minorities in Canada continue to face racism and discrimination every day. It is also a day to re-commit our efforts to combat all forms of racial discrimination, injustice, systemic racism, and hate to ensure a world where everyone is respected, safe, and has equitable access to contribute meaningfully to all aspects of society.
While important and meaningful progress has been made and continues to be made, the unfortunate reality is that racism, discrimination, and inequalities continue to persist. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) states, “In our turbulent international globalized landscape, a central message must be heralded: peace is more than the absence of war, it is living together with our differences – of sex, race, language, religion or culture – while furthering universal respect for justice and human rights on which such coexistence depends. Peace is a choice to be made on each situation, an everyday life decision to engage in sincere dialogue with other individuals and communities.”
We acknowledge that the fight against racism is everyone’s fight. We all have a part to play in building a world beyond racism.
*This information is courtesy of the Government of Canada and the United Nations.
For more information, we encourage you to check-out the following resources: