On October 26, 1966, the United Nations proclaimed March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to be commemorated yearly. On that day in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid “pass laws”.
In Canada, this date is an opportunity to reflect on the fact that while some progress has been made, Black, Indigenous, and racialized people continue to face racism and discrimination every day. In the public service, racialized workers continue to experience discrimination and systemic racism in the workplace.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, racism towards Asian, Black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities have spiked. This spike is a pattern of refueled racism towards marginalized populations. Far-right, white supremacist groups are using the pandemic as cover to step up their mobilization, as we’ve seen with the occupation of Ottawa and other disruptions in communities across the country.
We must all work 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. Instead of division, we need global and local cooperation and mutual aid. Our union can play a vital role in fighting hatred and fear in Canada and around the world.
CEIU stands strong with Black, Indigenous, and racialized members experiencing racism. We have been challenging the departments to take concrete actions to combat systemic racism within our workplaces. At Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), we have been working with our racialized members to file a policy grievance on systemic racism and speaking out in the media. We are also working to develop an anti-racism plan to ensure that we apply anti-racist principles to the work we do as a union.
MEMBERS CAN TAKE ACTION
- Educate yourself on the best ways to intervene to challenge racist actions and how best to support the person or group affected. Speak out against racist acts like jokes, slurs, graffiti, or name-calling.
- Challenge your workplace. Speak out about racist and discriminatory policies and practices in your workplace.
- Challenge yourself. Consider how some of your own assumptions might be influenced by discrimination.
- Become an ally. An ally is someone who actively supports racialized groups facing challenges. Being in alliance helps strengthen relationships in the workplace.
Message from Audrey Azoulay, Director-General from Unesco
“ Because difference is a source of richness, of strength. The diversity of humans and human civilizations is what makes the world more beautiful.”
Sarita Censoni, Racially Visible Female Representative, CEIU Human Rights and Race Relations Committee
Riaz Ahamed, Racially Visible Male Representative, CEIU Human Rights and Race Relations Committee