Sunday, March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, an opportunity to acknowledge the existence of racism in our society, highlight the damaging consequences of it, and commit to putting an end to all racial inequities.
The United Nations established this day in memory of the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa, where police killed 69 people peacefully demonstrating against apartheid.
OPSEU/SEFPO is actively working to eliminate all forms of racism, said President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
“Black, Indigenous and racialized members are leading this change within our union and I am proud of that,” said Thomas. “We’re an anti-racist organization and will do our part to dismantle racism wherever we encounter it, even if that resistance comes from within, especially from leaders who should not only know better, but they should do better. There is no acceptable setting for racist behaviour or language. Full stop.”
Ontario continues to experience a rise in discrimination, hate crimes and racially motivated violence. The latest Statistics Canada figures indicated that in 2017 there was a 67 per cent increase in reported criminal incidents motivated by hate in Ontario. Hate crimes are under reported so the figures don’t paint the full picture of the problem.
It’s important to commit to work every day toward dismantling racism, said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eddy Almeida.
“Eliminating racism can’t just fall on the shoulders of racialized members. Everyone must play a bigger role.” said Almeida. “I’m proud of the work we’re doing at OPSEU/SEFPO, both internally and externally, and we won’t let up for a second.”
This year’s theme is “youth standing up against racism.” Around the world, young people continue to be leading the charge and standing up to intolerance, hate and discrimination.
Peter Thompson, Chair of OPSEU/SEFPO’s Coalition of Racialized Workers (CoRW) remarked that he continues to be in awe at this generation of young leaders in our locals and in our communities.
“Last year was an example, that despite the challenges of a global pandemic which continues to affect Black, Indigenous and racialized people disproportionality, our youth continued to rise and stand up against white supremacy,” said Thompson.