Stand United Against Racism

Mar 20, 2024

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reminds us that everyone deserves respect, regardless of their skin color, ethnicity, or background. This day, observed on March 21st each year, holds significance because it marks a tragic event in history and urges us to work towards a world free from racism.

In 1960, in Sharpeville, South Africa, peaceful protestors were demonstrating against discriminatory laws known as apartheid. However, instead of listening to their voices, authorities responded with violence. They opened fire on the protestors, killing 69 people and injuring many more. This brutal event shocked the world and highlighted the urgent need to address racial discrimination.

The United Nations declared March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to honor the victims of the Sharpeville massacre and to raise awareness about the harmful effects of racism. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle against discrimination and inequality faced by people of all races and backgrounds.

By commemorating this day, we acknowledge that racism persists in our society, even though it may take different forms than it did in the past. It prompts us to reflect on our own attitudes and behaviors, as well as the systemic injustices that perpetuate racial discrimination. Only by recognizing these issues can we begin to address them effectively.

We must take action against racial discrimination in all its forms. This means speaking out against racist attitudes and behaviors, challenging discriminatory policies and practices, and promoting equality and inclusion in our communities and institutions. It also means educating ourselves and others about the harmful effects of racism and working towards a future where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

Each of us has a role to play in the fight against racism. Whether it's through small acts of kindness and solidarity or larger efforts to advocate for systemic change, our actions can make a difference. Together, we can build a world where diversity is celebrated, and everyone has equal opportunities to thrive.

On this International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, I encourage all Nova Scotians to remember the past, but also look towards the future with hope and determination. Let us stand united against racism and work together to create a more just and inclusive world for all.

The preceding is a statement from Joseph Fraser, Director & CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.