Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

March 20, 2008 15:31 ET

March 21 U.N. Int'l Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Statement from the Ontario Federation of Labour

Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, Media Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 20, 2008) - The Ontario Federation of Labour and its affiliates recognize March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on this day after police in 1960 opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid "pass laws".

Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
"As workers we are also aware that racism is prevalent across Canada and it will not be eliminated in a day by any single action," said OFL Executive Vice-President, Terry Downey.

"It is a fact that racism includes hate crimes, bullying, stereotyping, prejudice, racial profiling and racial harassment," Downey stated. "One in five workers feel that their employment rights are violated due to racism. Individual and systemic racism has a clear and negative impact for people of colour in Ontario."

"It is also an acknowledged fact that for a variety of historic reasons, including racial prejudice, a disproportionate percentage of Aboriginal people are involved in the justice system and are incarcerated in our prisons more than any other identifiable group in Canada," Downey said.

When a group of black jail guards have to face death threats, toxic harassment and hate in their workplace on an ongoing basis, labour realizes that there is still a lot of work to be done to eliminate racism and ensure that all workers have a safe and harassment free working environment.

"The recent spate of racial attacks and slurs on students and racialized groups at our post-secondary institutions is shocking," Downey said. "Students who want higher learning should not be subjected to racial attacks. Governments at all levels must address this in our publicly-funded institutions."

"Aboriginal leaders have been arrested and jailed for opposing mining on their traditional lands. There has been no consultation and no justice for these Aboriginal leaders," Downey said. "Our provincial government should have used all its efforts to resolve this and ensure that these Aboriginal leaders didn't end up in court let alone jailed."

Fighting racism, intolerance and hate in a pro-active way is one of the building blocks of strong and safe communities. Ontarians should not tolerate any expressions of hate or racism. Our job is to protect those who suffer any kind of discrimination.

The OFL and its affiliates will continue to fight relentlessly for racial equality and the elimination of racism locally, provincially, nationally and globally. In order to challenge racism, we need to understand where it comes from and how it operates at every level.
/For further information: Terry Downey
Executive Vice-President
Ontario Federation of Labour
416.578.3230 (cellular)/ IN: JUSTICE, LABOUR, MEDIA, POLITICS, OTHER

Contact Information

  • Dana Boettger, Communications Director, Ontario Federation of Labour
    Primary Phone: 416-441-2731 ext. 665
    Secondary Phone: 416-443-7665