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​Message from Kathryn Oviatt, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission

(March 21, 2023)​

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2023

Each year on March 21, the Commission observes the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day has been recognized globally for almost sixty years. Discrimination based on race or ethnicity is a violation of fundamental human rights that undermines our shared values of equality, justice, and respect for diversity.

The day was developed in 1966 to mourn and call to action anti-racist efforts following the 1960 police killings of 69 peaceful protesters in Sharpeville, South Africa, including 10 children. One hundred and eighty people were injured, and many were paralyzed while protesting racist apartheid laws. It was a shocking and despicable incident of racial hatred that sparked global outrage and a collective response to stand against such actions.

Despite this history and multi-decade fight against racism, the scourge of racism continues today, including here in Alberta. This racism includes racial profiling of people of colour, Islamophobia, anti-Semitic hate, and much more. Communities, individuals, and stakeholder groups from all racialized communities continue to report to the Commission that they regularly experience everything from subtle micro-aggressions to physical violence. We unequivocally stand with them in condemning racism in all its forms.

Alberta's population continues to grow at higher rates than anywhere else in Canada. Projections anticipate that in the next 25 years, approximately 55 per cent​ of our population growth will come from international migration and with it, an increasingly diverse community. Increased diversity is entirely a good thing, bringing new ideas and approaches to complex problems that enrich us all. It is critical that increased equality comes along with increased diversity.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a day to reflect and acknowledge past and present wrongs, but it is also a day for hope and action. We celebrate our diversity and recognize the significant achievements of Black, Indigenous, and racialized people in our community. We also recognize the contribution of individuals and organizations that stand up against racial discrimination. Eliminating racial discrimination will have economic and social benefits for generations to come, and we call upon all Albertans to stand united in the fight against racism.​

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.