International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Statement

IDERD March 21 Unifor

March 19, 2024

Thursday, March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

This day is observed every year on the anniversary of a tragic event that occurred in Sharpeville, South Africa on March 21, 1960 where police opened fire a peaceful demonstration.
A group of people, predominantly Black South Africans, had gathered for a peaceful protest against the apartheid regime’s discriminatory “pass laws”, which forced Black South Africans to carry identification documents, known as passes, restricting their movement and employment opportunities.

During the peaceful protest, the police opened fire on the crowd without warning, indiscriminately shooting at the unarmed demonstrators. The brutal crackdown resulted in the deaths of 69 people, with many more injured.

In response to this tragic event, the United Nations General Assembly declared an annual observance to remind us of the ongoing struggle against racism and discrimination worldwide.

As a union dedicated to racial justice, we take this day to reflect on ways we can deepen our commitment to creating a world free from racial discrimination and how we can bring more workers across Canada together to find community, take action, and create change.

This year, we witness an alarming rise in Islamophobia and antisemitism across the globe and within Canada. The intensification of these prejudices has been exacerbated by the ongoing conflict in Gaza, amplifying deep-seated global divisions and fostering an environment where hatred can thrive.

The troubling escalation of hate here in Canada underscores the urgent need for collective action and unwavering solidarity. At this critical juncture, it is imperative that we come together to reaffirm our dedication to human rights, peace, and solidarity.

Through dialogue and education, we can dismantle the harmful stereotypes and misconceptions that fuel bigotry and hatred. By fostering inclusivity and empathy, we can create environments where all individuals feel valued, respected, and empowered. As advocates for social change, Unifor is committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in all facets of society.

We recognize that eradicating racial discrimination requires sustained effort and collaboration across diverse sectors. By forging partnerships with community organizations, advocacy groups, and policymakers, we can effect meaningful change and build a more just and equitable society for all. We encourage members to participate in events in their communities and seek out opportunities to advance their understanding of racism and its impacts.

Together, we stand in solidarity with all workers and communities in the pursuit of a world free from racial discrimination.