International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – March 21

In recent months, the issue of race and racism has occupied media headlines here and in other parts of the world. Hate crimes, violence and racial profiling – based on religion and skin colour – are on the rise in an alarming way.

That’s why it’s important we stand united on March 21 – International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – to call for an end to the violence, and demand equality for everyone.

As a social justice union, HEU actively opposes all forms of gender, racial and ethnic discrimination that prevents workers from participating fully at work, in their union, at their workplace, and in their communities.

Through our union’s five equity standing committees, HEU raises awareness about the many issues facing racialized and marginalized workers who experience stereotyping, harassment, denial of opportunities and other forms of discrimination.

We endeavour to promote inclusion, respect and fair treatment for all our members. And, as part of the labour movement, we stand in solidarity against abuse and discrimination experienced by workers both here in Canada and across the globe.

Wherever possible, HEU strongly supports organizations working to break barriers and eliminate discrimination.

March 21 is an opportunity to remind decision-makers and workers everywhere about the devastating impact of discrimination on people’s lives, and commit to promoting equality across all cultures and backgrounds.

It was on March 21, 1960, when white South African police fired more than 700 shots at peaceful black demonstrators, who were protesting discriminatory “pass laws” in the Sharpeville Township of South Africa.

Sixty-nine people were killed and 180 wounded. Almost all were shot in the back.

In 1966, the United Nations declared March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in response to the outrage over this massacre.