TORONTO, March 21, 2007 - The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) urges Canadians to bear in mind that racial discrimination and racism are not things of the past in Canada and, although some progress has been made in removing barriers, there is still a long way to go.
It is important that Canadians realize that racism and racial discrimination are not always manifested in direct confrontation. Nor does they always lead to the tragic outcomes of March 21, 1960, the date of the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa when 69 unarmed anti-apartheid protesters were killed and over 300 wounded, the day for which the UN made the declaration.
More often today, racial discrimination is manifested in the refusal to hire or promote someone, refusal of service, the stopping of drivers - all on the basis of their colour or racial background.
Earlier this year, Leger Marketing released a survey which revealed that 92 percent of Canadians have witnessed racism in comments and/or behaviours. The same survey also revealed that almost half of Canadians admit to being "at least slightly racist." These indicators are very much causes for concern, given that the population of racialized communities is expected to increase.
Countering racism and racial discrimination has to become a conscious effort. The impact of the pain and hurt of racism is, for the most part, not visible. It is a dehumanizing experience that the victims take with them always.
The United Nations adopted the resolution to declare March 21st as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to memorialize the police killings in Sharpeville in the hope that it would be a constant reminder of the dangers of racism. It is urgent that we take the necessary steps to ensure that these outcomes are never repeated.