From the BC Federation of Labour
Statement by the BCFED on the 2021 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
March 21, 2021
(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC) The BCFED released the following statement on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
Sixty-one years ago today, police officers in Sharpeville, South Africa opened fire on a crowd peacefully protesting apartheid laws, killing 69 people. Since 1979, we have marked the anniversary of that massacre with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a day to recommit ourselves to eradicating the profound injustice of racism and rectifying its violent, painful legacy.
This day has particular resonance for Canadians, knowing as we do that much of the apartheid system mirrors the historical treatment of Indigenous peoples. And it reminds us that the end of legal structures of racism and colonialism isn’t enough. We celebrate real progress such as the passage of the B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, and support the work of Rachna Singh, B.C.’s first Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. We recognize as well that Indigenous, Black and People of Colour have for far too long carried the burden of anti-racism work. The pandemic has exposed the virus of racism as a force of violence and brutality. The work of anti-racism and decolonialization is far from done, and demands our unceasing commitment.
This day is also a reminder that the resistance to that work can be brutal and sometimes lethal — from the violence that Indigenous people, Black people and people of colour experience from police, to the recent surge in hateful attacks on members of the Asian community. The labour movement must do all we can to defend those facing hate and racist violence.
Our recovery from this pandemic must include everyone, and that we rebuild our economy on a foundation of intersectional equity and justice. We are especially inspired by the guidance of Indigenous leaders who have stressed the importance of building community in all we do. As the pandemic has shown us yet again, our well-being truly is collective; an injury to one is an injury to all. We aren’t free until all of us are free; we aren’t safe until all of us are safe; and there is no justice until there is justice for all of us.
Let’s take the energy we’ve harnessed in fighting back the COVID pandemic, and channel it into fighting the pandemic of racism — from individual acts of hatred to the institutional systemic racism too many must endure. The BC Federation of Labour stands in solidarity with all who are part of that fight, and who endeavour to eradicate racism once and for all.
From the Canadian Labour Congress
Canada’s unions call on federal government to eliminate systemic racism in employment
March 21, 2021
Canada’s unions are marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by urging the federal government to ensure its efforts to modernize the Employment Equity Act address the significant inequities experienced by racialized workers as a result of systemic racism and discrimination.
“Strengthening the Employment Equity Act is an important step towards addressing disparities in employment, and the systemic barriers faced by racialized workers,” said Larry Rousseau, Executive Vice-President of the CLC. “But in order to be effective, this process must include meaningful consultation and engagement with members of equity-seeking groups covered under the Act. This must also include bargaining agents who represent them in the workplace.”
Historically, racialized workers have had fewer employment opportunities than their non-racialized counterparts and were often limited to service sectors, regardless of their educational achievements or qualifications. Today, racialized workers still face barriers in all aspects of work, from hiring, to advancement, to retention and workplace supports.
In modernizing the Employment Equity Act, the federal government must:
• Address the distinctive experiences of discrimination and racism faced by equity-seeking populations, rather than grouping them all together as “visible minorities” as it currently does;
• Expand coverage to LGBTQ2SI populations. Despite facing systemic barriers and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, these workers are not currently included as a designated group under the Act;
• Recognize the reality of the multiple identities workers may hold. These identities can intersect and impact their access to employment as well as the barriers they may face in the workplace. Nuanced and accurate analyses of employment inequities experienced by members of designated groups would allow for the development of more effective and targeted solutions to systemic racism and discrimination in employment.
Canada’s unions continue to call for the government to invest in building a stronger, more inclusive and sustainable economy for our families and the next generation.
A commitment to advancing employment equity is a part of the process, but it is only one piece. Visit canadianplan.ca to learn more.
From the Government of BC
WE ALL HAVE A PART TO PLAY WHEN IT COMES TO ANTI-RACISM.
Anti-racism is the deliberate act of opposing racism and promoting a society that is thoughtful, inclusive and just. This is the society British Columbia aspires to be. But our history is rooted in stories of exclusion and discrimination based on race — from residential schools to discriminatory policies against Asian and Black Canadians, to the experiences of Indigenous peoples accessing health care today.
Living in a society steeped in colonialism and systemic racism impacts all of us. We each carry prejudices. None of us are individually responsible for systemic racism, but we all have a part to play to confront it. To support you on your journey, we’ve developed a series of Anti-racism Reminders. We hope they help you to see things in a different light and spur conversations at home, at work and all the places needed to create a better and safer B.C.