Eliminating racism is our collective responsibility

March 21, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21, Charlotte-Anne Malischewski, Interim Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, issues the following statement:

Each year on March 21 we stand together united with countries around the world to reaffirm our commitment to the elimination of racial discrimination.

This international day, proclaimed in 1966, dates back to South African apartheid and the violent and deadly attack on a peaceful protest in Sharpeville, South Africa. Six decades later, this day of remembrance and action serves as an important reminder that no country and no community is immune to racism, and that we must be more vigilant than ever before.

Whether overt or insidiously subtle, racial discrimination touches the everyday lives of Indigenous, Black and other racialized people and communities in Canada. It contributes to injustice and inequality. Racial discrimination takes on multiple and often intersecting forms — from anti-Black racism, to anti-Indigenous racism, to anti-Asian racism, to Islamophobia, to antisemitism, among others.

Systemic racism in Canada runs deep. Our policies, our structures, and our systems have evolved out of and remain grounded in Canada's colonial roots. That is why a key step in dismantling systemic racism is for allies to look inwards, educate ourselves, challenge our own biases, fears and assumptions about race, and take meaningful action.

We all must play a role in this ongoing education and work to identify and eliminate bias and systemic discrimination. At the Canadian Human Rights Commission, we are in the midst of moving these conversations from dialogue to learning and proactive anti-racism action. To date, our anti-racism work has put us on the right path. But this work is ongoing. It must be continuous, evergreen and sustainable.

The responsibility to eliminate racism, discrimination and hatred is all of Canada's to carry. Together, we can build a society where every person has the opportunity to be safe from racist violence, to thrive, to belong, and to make for themselves the lives that they wish to have, free from discrimination.

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