March 21: International Day for the Elimination of Racism

'We are strongest when we are united. Racism divides us from within and makes us weaker.' - James Clancy


Ottawa (21 March 2007) – International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a day that should serve as a reminder of how much still needs to be done in Canadian society, says James Clancy, president of the 340,000 member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).

“We cannot treat this annual occasion as a single day in which our main purpose is to congratulate ourselves on how progressive we are," Clancy says.

The National Union is encouraging members across the country to rededicate themselves to working on a daily basis to combat racism in workplaces, unions, communities and society as a whole.

“We know in our union that our role is not simply to bargain for better wages and benefits for our members but also to work for equality and fairness for all people," adds Clancy. “We are strongest when we are united. Racism divides us from within and makes us weaker."

Worrisome signs in Canada

Of growing concern to the National Union is the increasing incidence of racism associated with Canada's ongoing “war on terror.”

"There are journalists and commentators in this country who regularly refer to the skin colour of ‘suspected’ terrorists. Across the country I am hearing about hurtful comments and racist acts being committed based solely on misinformed stereotypes of Muslims,” Clancy says.

“As the Mahar Arar case and the issue of security certificates demonstrates, Muslim men are increasingly being targeted in this society.”

The commemoration of International Day for the Elimination of Racism originated on March 21, 1960, when an anti-Apartheid demonstration was brutally crushed by police in South Africa.

The National Union's membership includes women and men from all ethnic, socio-economic, age and professional groups.

“That is why we have placed so much importance on educating ourselves and others about racism,” says Clancy. “We really want our members to use the educational tools we've created to raise awareness of the harmful effects of racism."

National Union educational modules on equality rights dealing specifically with racism and intolerance include the following:
  1. Valuing our Diversity;
  2. Saying No to Racism; and
  3. Aboriginal Solidarity and First Nations Rights

The modules are developed based on a popular adult education model and are designed to be delivered in different formats. To order these educational modules, please contact the National Union by phone (613) 228-9800 or by email

The National Union has also created several pamphlets to assist its members in the fight against racism These pamphlets can be reviewed and printed at these links:

Hard copies of the pamphlets can also be ordered by contacting the National Union by phone (613) 228-9800 or by email

More information:

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