Everyone has a responsibility to end racism

March 21, 2024 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

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

Today on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Canadian Human Rights Commission is calling for urgent and concrete action to combat all forms of systemic racism in Canada.

Decades after this day’s inception, racism continues to be at the root of human rights violations in countries around the world, including Canada. Whether conscious or unconscious, subtle or overt, individual or systemic, racism diminishes human dignity and erodes democracy.

Systemic racism in Canada runs deep. The barriers created by Canada’s systems and structures may not be intentional or malicious, but they exist and they have significant impacts. In Canada, Indigenous, Black, and other racialized people continue to experience greater poverty, unemployment, violence, inadequate housing and homelessness, and food insecurity.

Canada’s multicultural population means that racist expressions, and the roots of racial intolerance cut across diverse communities. For example, there has been a troubling rise in antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Arab racism, and anti-Palestinian racism, especially since October 7, 2023.

Canada has domestic and international obligations to combat systemic racism. The right to be free from racial discrimination is enshrined in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and international treaties.

We call on governments and all other institutions across Canada to look inwards, prioritize self-education, challenge biases, fears, and assumptions about race, and to take meaningful, concrete action.

Everyone has a responsibility to end racism in Canada.

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