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March 21, 2021

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination observed on March 21, is an annual day of recognition proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966. On March 21, 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in Sharpeville, South Africa. This day of recognition calls on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

This year’s observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination must include a recognition of the ways that COVID-19 has illuminated inequities, especially those faced by racialized people.

On Tuesday, March 16, eight people in Atlanta, Georgia were murdered; six of the victims were Asian women. This horrific act of racialized and gendered violence has shone a light on the increase in anti-Asian violence that has occurred across North America since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Statistics Canada report released in July 2020, identified that since the start of the pandemic the number of visible minorities who experienced an increase in harassment or attacks based on their race, ethnicity, or skin colour tripled compared to the rest the population, with the largest increase among Chinese, Korean, and Southeast Asian individuals. Live data compiled by Fight COVID Racism identified 957 incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes across Canada as of mid-day March 19.

In addition to the rise in anti-Asian racism, the past year has highlighted the impacts of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism reigniting movements to end police violence, reimagine community safety, and engage in true reconciliation.

This year on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination the Ontario Federation of Labour recommits to fighting racism, xenophobia, colonialism, and discrimination in all forms. The labour movement stands against violence and hate and will continue its work to build solidarity and demand justice around the world.


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