PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday issued the following statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
“Building a world free of racism requires deliberate, continuous efforts to change perceptions and systems that have been in place for many years. Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we come together to renew our commitment to building a more inclusive country and world, where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.
“On this day in 1960, police officers in apartheid South Africa opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in a Black township held to protest apartheid laws. The international response led the United Nations (UN) to declare March 21 the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled, but this day invites us to continue to stand up against racism and inequities that persist in our societies today, including against Indigenous, Black, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, and other racialized and religious minority communities.
“Here at home, despite significant progress, hate and discrimination – including anti-Indigenous, anti-Black, anti-Asian, antisemitic, and Islamophobic – continue to be a lived reality for many people in our communities. With the support of the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat, we continue to take action to combat racial discrimination and tackle its effects on people and communities across the country, including in the health care system. This includes initiatives like the Promoting Health Equity: Mental Health of Black Canadians Fund, which supports community-based projects that promote mental health for Black communities, as well as the new Addressing Racism and Discrimination in Canada’s Health Systems Program, which provides funding for projects that address systemic racism in our health systems. This is in addition to the recently announced Indigenous Health Equity Fund, which demonstrates Canada’s commitment to the implementation of Joyce’s Principle. This principle aims to inform Indigenous health legislation, address the systemic inequities Indigenous Peoples face, and give them access to quality and culturally safe health care services, free from racism and discrimination.
“Internationally, Canada has long been a champion for diversity and inclusion. Guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we continue to respond to the call to build a more peaceful world where human rights and fundamental freedoms are universally respected. Earlier this year, as part of our international efforts, we were proud to sign the Declaration on the North American Partnership for Equity and Racial Justice, which provides a framework for collaboration with the United States and Mexico to combat systemic racism and discrimination. This Partnership will help us create a North America where everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve their full potential and equal participation in social, cultural, economic, and political life.
“Today, and every day, I encourage all Canadians to confront racism, discrimination, and xenophobia in all their forms. Whether in person or online, in our communities, in our schools, or at work, everyone has the right to live a life free of hate and discrimination. Together, we can build a brighter future where everyone is valued, celebrated, and respected in their diversity.”
PREMIER David Eby and Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, said in a statement:
“The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recognizes that the injustices and prejudices fuelled by racial discrimination take place every day. The day is observed annually in memory of the 69 people who were killed in 1960 during a peaceful demonstration against apartheid, a racist policy that governed relations between white people and racialized people in South Africa. Although the legislation was repealed by the early 1990s, the social and economic repercussions of the discriminatory policy continue to this day.
“Similarly, Indigenous, Black and racialized people in B.C. and Canada continue to be harmed by the intergenerational impacts of residential schools, internment camps, slavery and other forms of cultural genocide. Despite the ways in which the diversity of people, cultures, ethnicities and religions enhance and improve our province, systemic racism, discrimination and hate still affect people in our communities every day.
“Our government is committed to addressing these issues. We’re working to dismantle systemic racism in government programs and services through the Anti-Racism Data Act. To improve equity throughout the public school system, we recently introduced a K-12 Anti-Racism Action Plan, and we’re supporting community-led efforts to address hate and support anti-racism initiatives through the Resilience BC Anti-Racism Network.
“We know there’s more work ahead. We are fortunate to have dedicated people and organizations who are championing multiculturalism and diversity in their communities.
“Today, we’ll be recognizing some of these anti-racism heroes at the Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Awards. We hope the inspiring stories of this year’s award winners will encourage more people to promote and protect diversity and work together to build a more inclusive and welcoming province for everyone. ”
FEDERAL NDP critic for foreign affairs and international development, MP Heather McPherson (Edmonton Strathcona), made the following statement:
“Today, New Democrats mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In our country, Indigenous, Black and racialized people, refugees and immigrants still face harassment, harm, and are denied services based on how they look or where they’re from. This type of discrimination must never be normalized or tolerated. Everyone has a responsibility to speak out against hate in all forms.
“But we still have a long way to go. During the pandemic there was a stark rise in hate crimes against Asian Canadians. Indigenous people continue to be disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, and unacceptable instances of anti-Black racism within the government’s own departments remain unaddressed. Racialized women, particularly Muslim women, continue to face systemic barriers and targeted hate.
“The policies governments implement and enforce have meaningful consequences for Indigenous, Black and racialized people, refugees and migrants. It is not enough to denounce discrimination and hatred, concrete action is required to root out systemic racism from our institutions.
“None of us can thrive until all of us can thrive; it is only by doing the work to reform departments and institutions that we ensure a safe and equal future for all.
“The NDP will continue to fight against racism, xenophobia, religious discrimination and hate wherever we encounter it. We believe reconciliation with Indigenous peoples needs real action from this government and that eliminating systemic discrimination means creating inclusive workplaces, communities, policies and laws.”
RICHMOND North Centre MLA Teresa Wat, BC Liberal Critic for Multiculturalism, Anti-Racism Initiatives, Arts and Culture, said in a statement:
“On behalf of the Official Opposition, I reaffirm our commitment to eliminating all forms of racial discrimination and hate today on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
“We have made significant progress as a society and province in the battle against racial injustice, yet, ongoing societal issues still show that elements of racial discrimination are present to this day. Three years after the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Metro Vancouver continues to face some of the highest rates of anti-Asian hate crimes in North America, and racially-driven hate crimes from across the province showcase that there’s a lot more work that needs to be done.
“We all have a role to play in building a society of inclusion and tolerance, where respect for each other is a fundamental and expected element of humanity. British Columbia has long embraced everyone, regardless of ethnic or racial makeup, and we must continue to act in a way that sets an example for all to follow.
“Today, we remember all those that have been victims of racially-driven hatred and discrimination on this International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Everyone, no matter where they are from, has the right to feel safe, accepted, and respected.”