Canada’s unions mark Human Rights Day by challenging rising racism and discrimination

December 10, 2018

Canada’s unions are marking International Human Rights Day and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by calling on Canadians to collectively confront racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia.

With hate crimes on the rise, the Canadian Labour Congress is encouraging people to endorse the Charter for Inclusive Communities which promotes “inclusive, just, and respectful communities in Canada”.

Recent data released by Statistics Canada shows that police-reported hate crimes in Canada rose dramatically in 2017, up by 47% over the previous year. Incidents targeting the Muslim community rose by 151%. Hate crimes targeting Jewish people rose by 63% and those targeting Black people rose by 50%.

“The hate crime numbers are profoundly disturbing,” said CLC President, Hassan Yussuff. “Canada has been a proud champion of human rights, at home and abroad. These numbers illustrate the impact of ongoing normalization of hatred. While Canada continues to address its painful legacy of colonialism, it must additionally do more to promote values of diversity, acceptance, and inclusion. We must work collectively to confront all forms of racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia.”

As well, Canada’s unions have joined in the call for January 29th to be recognized as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia. The date marks the tragic anniversary of the Quebec mosque massacre in which a gunman killed six people and severely wounded eight more.

In the 2018 budget, the federal government committed to additional funding to help support anti-racism initiatives. In addition to $2 million already allocated to anti-racism engagement, the government announced:

  • $21 million was added to strengthen the Multiculturalism program’s resources for anti-racism and discrimination community support. This included additional funding for events and projects that address racism and discrimination with a priority on Indigenous Peoples as well as women and girls;
  • $19 million was allocated to enhance local community supports for Black Canadian youth and to develop research in support of more culturally focused mental health programs for Black Canadians.

“It’s imperative that any new funding support the varied needs of communities”, said Yussuff. “This means the federal government must continue to consult with those most impacted by racism, and ensure their voices inform policies intended to remove barriers to participation. This is how we can truly promote inclusive communities.”

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