March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
On March 21, 1960, police in South Africa opened fire on unarmed protestors during a protest of the government’s racially discriminatory “pass laws” during Apartheid. The police killed 69 people, including women and children, and wounded over 180 others. Nearly 75 years later, this event is known as the Sharpeville Massacre, and the anniversary of the massacre is commemorated yearly as the Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Around the world, on this day, organizations dedicate time and space to learning and unlearning ways we can continue to confront racism in different spaces.
Today, there is still a legacy of colonialism in our education systems. Racism and prejudice are part of the school system whether we like it or not. It’s entrenched in the very fabric that makes up our communities.
To commemorate this year, on Monday, March 20, Local Immigration Partnerships from across the lower mainland collaborated to bring folks a free event and workshop centered around how we can continue to confront and dismantle racial discrimination.
VLIP, North Shore Immigration Partnership, Katzie Ridge Meadows Local Immigration Partnership, Surrey LIP, New West LIP came together the guidance and leadership of the Burnaby Intercultural Planning Table to host a full day event.
The day was packed, with thoughtful panel discussion, Racism Through an Indigenous, Local and Educational lens, with guest speakers Elder Colleen Pierre of the Katzie Nation and Dr. Samir Traore, VP Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at SFU, an incredible session with Angelo from Theatre of the Oppressed, where all the event attendees were turned into “spect-actors” and even participated in some of the skits. We had mini breakout session with hyper focused topics, like barriers to employment and barriers in healthcare. The final panel of the day, Belonging, Success and Opportunities in Communities around Metro Vancouver: A Youth Perspective featured guest speakers Dacious Richardson, Amina Osman, and Sean Celi.
Thank you to everyone who came out to attend this event. In the words of Elder Colleen Pierre of Katzie Nation, “The more we talk, the more we take a stand, the more lasting changes in policy we will see. And, by speaking up, we make the way easier for others around us to take a stand.”
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