International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Tribune-Post Staff
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FREDERICTON, N.B. – The following statement was issued by Randy Dickinson, chair of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Friday, Mar. 21:

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was declared by the United Nations in 1966 as a call to the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. It is the anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre, when 69 peaceful demonstrators against apartheid where killed by police in 1960 in South Africa.

Sadly, on Dec. 5, the world lost one of its greatest leaders to emerge from the struggle against apartheid. Nelson Mandela dedicated his life to the pursuit of human rights and racial equality. He believed in the power of education to counter hate and promote respect and even love. In his 1995 autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, he said:

No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

Of course, apartheid has long since been dismantled, and there have been important advances in the struggle against racism, including the adoption of the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 1969. In New Brunswick, racial discrimination was first prohibited in 1956, and it was the main reason the commission was created in 1967. Race was the most frequent ground of discrimination complaints during the its early years, but the number of race discrimination complaints eventually decreased.

The message of Mar. 21 remains relevant today. Racial and ethnic minorities and First Nations people constitute a growing proportion of our population. Our future is tied in part to our ability to welcome them and to include them in our society.

On Mar. 21 and throughout the year, I invite New Brunswickers to celebrate the contributions of New Brunswickers of all ancestral, racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds, and to commit to oppose racism in all its forms.

Organizations: New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, United Nations, International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination First Nations

Geographic location: FREDERICTON, South Africa, New Brunswickers New Brunswick

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