Remarks by Albert Lo, CRRF Chairperson
Oct 15, 2017
CRRF 20th Anniversary Reception and launch of "Doing the Right Thing" curriculum
Dear friends and honoured guests,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you, on behalf of the Board and staff of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, to this very special and timely event.
More than 70 years ago, during the difficult days of the Second World War, the government of Canada chose to act against some of its own citizens.
The internment of Japanese-Canadians, their dispossession and dispersal, left a mark in the hearts of a loyal and patriotic community that time could not erase.
In 1988, the Canadian government signed the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement with the National Association of Japanese Canadians, formalizing an apology for the treatment of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War, and setting out a measure of compensation for what had been taken from them, and could never truly be returned.
It is a tribute to the generosity of the Japanese-Canadian community that they sought not only individual compensation, but also a means to ensure that no other community would ever again be treated as they were.
It is through that commitment to justice and to a better future that the Canadian Race Relations Foundation was created through an Act of Parliament in 1991, and whose doors opened in November 1997.
The Foundation was not created to advocate for one cause or community, but rather to facilitate in the development, sharing, and application of knowledge and expertise, and to engage in consultation and education “in order to contribute to the elimination of racism and all forms of racial discrimination in Canadian society”.
This work has been accomplished through workshops, Roundtables, national conferences, webinars, interviews, publications, training, and other program activities. Through public fora and discussions, we have engaged broad segments of Canadian society, including community groups, youth, academics, human rights organizations, unions, different levels of government, etc.
Most important, we have honoured the hope that the Japanese-Canadian community held in its heart when, though a collective act of faith, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation became a reality: the hope that we could learn from the past, and build a society in which the humanity and dignity of every person would be truly honoured and respected.
But creating a better future is not as simple as turning a page and promising to do better. Resolutions are important, but more is required. George Santayana’s aphorism about history is well known but, on this occasion, I offer in its place one that is more direct: Just because we think that we are done with history does not mean that history is done with us. Events in many parts of the world show how deep anger and grievance can run, the dangers of not addressing the causes of discontent, and finding solutions and resolutions.
The history of our country contains lessons that are both positive and negative. The treatment of Indigenous people, stigmatization of desperate refugees, discrimination against those who are deemed to be different because of their faith, or the colour of their skin, or their place of origin, or language. These mistakes demand our attention, reflection, examination and action.
It’s for this reason that on this 20th anniversary of the CRRF, I am particularly pleased to announce today the launch of a new educational resource, aptly named, Doing the Right Thing. You will learn more about this resource from its creators, Joan Callaghan and John Myers, later in the program.
Thank you again for your presence and your interest.