March 21st is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day recognizes that the injustices and prejudices fueled by racial discrimination take place every day.
The United Nations established the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (IDERD) in 1966 as part of a larger effort to denounce South Africa’s apartheid regime. In choosing March 21, the UN commemorated the victims of the Sharpeville Massacre. On that day in 1960, the South African Police (SAP) opened fire on a peaceful crowd of adults and children in the Black township of Sharpeville, killing 69 and wounding more than 180. The crowd had been walking to the local police station to protest passing laws that, among other injustices, restricted where Black South Africans could live, travel, and work.
In Canada, this date is an opportunity to reflect on the fact that while progress has been made, Indigenous Peoples, racialized communities and religious minorities in Canada continue to face racism and discrimination every day. It is also a day to re-commit our efforts to combat all forms of racial discrimination, injustice, systemic racism and hate to ensure a world where everyone is respected, safe, and has equitable access to contribute meaningfully to all aspects of society.
Racism persists in systems and institutions in Canada and around the world. Its impacts feature in our daily news cycles. And wherever it finds a voice, it can cause lasting harm to individuals and communities
Learn more about International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.