Message from Robert Philp, Queen’s Counsel,
Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission

(March 21, 2017)

March 21st is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

 “International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a day in which all Albertans can celebrate the accomplishments we have made in preventing and countering racism and discrimination. But it also reminds us of the work that remains.

“This year’s theme, “Racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration,” highlights the continued racial discrimination that exists and the intolerance, hate, racism and exclusion that emerges when fear, lack of understanding and prejudices are prevalent and fostered.

“Canada has a long history of immigration. In the 150 years since Confederation, more than 17 million people have immigrated to Canada. Most recently, Canada has welcomed over 40,000 Syrian refugees fleeing war and conflict. Indeed, for generations, Alberta has received many refugees and, especially now, our cities and rural communities are seeing an influx of newcomers.

“Ensuring that newcomers who come to Alberta are welcomed and included, that they are supported throughout the resettlement process, and that they are engaged in their schools, workplaces and communities, are all important elements for their settlement and integration, to their wellbeing, and ultimately to our province’s success.

“Human rights are fundamental to the well-being of us all and the health of communities throughout Alberta. Protecting and promoting human rights, and valuing diversity, inclusion and equality, are key to building sustainable and resilient communities. It benefits everyone when diversity is seen to add to the vibrancy of the community and when all members are fully engaged.

“Communities are strongest when all of their members are fully contributing to the cultural, social, economic and political life of their communities. As communities receive newcomers, it is crucial that we ensure that refugees—those who have already suffered often unspeakable atrocities—are truly welcomed, included and supported.

“The lessons learned from the Sharpeville massacre are still relevant today. As Albertans, we each have a responsibility to speak out against racism and discrimination, and live the values set out in the Alberta Human Rights Act.

“On March 21st, I encourage you to reflect on the tragic events in Sharpeville, to take the time to engage in human rights events in your communities, to speak out against racism and discrimination, and to take an active role in creating communities where diversity is recognized, encouraged and celebrated.”

Our vision is a vibrant and inclusive Alberta where the rich diversity of people is celebrated and respected, and where everyone has the opportunity to fully participate in society, free from discrimination.