Today, the Public Service Alliance of Canada commemorates the International Day for the Elimination of Racism.

PSAC stands strongly opposed to all forms of racism and remains committed to advancing human rights, equality and social justice; both inside PSAC and within our society. We know that discrimination based on race, colour or ethnic origin can be subtle, making it difficult to quantify and combat.

Racism in all its forms is wrong, and we must use our collective solidarity to defeat it. Recent events within our union have illustrated that no-one is immune from racism; it affects us all, and it’s up all of us to fight for its eradication. We all stand in solidarity with the victims of racism inside PSAC, as well as everyone impacted by it. An injury to one is an injury to all; the impact has been serious and profound on everyone associated with PSAC.

Therefore whether it be in our workplaces, in our union or in society, we all have a responsibility to actively pursue a racism-free world. We must all use this day to strengthen our commitment and solidarity in confronting racism. We can never allow the perpetrators of prejudice and hate to divide and deter us from this important goal.

We cannot turn a blind eye towards any racist act, in the hope it will simply go away. At the same time, we must ensure that due processes and natural justice are also respected when tackling racism. We continue to learn; we must keep asking hard questions of ourselves and develop new strategies for combating this evil. We are all leaders in this collective fight. Using our energy, passion and solidarity, we can meet this challenge.

PSAC is dedicated to ensuring that equity-seeking members, including racialized members, are able to participate at all levels of our union. To advance this goal, we will be holding our Conference for Racially Visible Members April 1-3 in Vancouver. This will be an exciting conference which will allow for racialized activists to come together, discuss issues that specifically impact their communities, and provide PSAC with direction on how we can collectively advance these issues and our union.

Since 9/11, there has been an intensification of the scrutiny faced by racialized people and their contributions in our communities and workplaces by politicians, the media and others. This scrutiny has empowered the Harper government to openly attack racialized immigrants and refugees, branding them as unworthy of accessing services and citizenship. Bill C-49 is the most recent example of this attack. A contravention of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as international human rights law; the Bill allows for refugees to be detained without any reason and prevent them from family reunification for prolonged periods of time.

Another example is the recent $53 million cuts to immigrant settlement and adaptive services, particularly in areas where most new immigrants reside. These mean-spirited cuts negatively impact racialized communities, given that the majority of newcomers to Canada are racialized.

The avenues for equity groups to assert their rights and address racial discrimination and harassment have also been greatly limited, thanks to cuts made by the Harper Government to the Court Challenges Program, advocacy and research groups, immigrant settlement services and the closure of Canadian Human Rights Commission offices across the country. These actions impact us all and we must unite to oppose those who promote prejudice and hate in our society.

PSAC has developed a poster for March 21st based on the theme of the Conference for Racially Visible Members: United, Empowered and Fearless. Let us take this as inspiration; we must unite and work together to build a stronger PSAC and world – one dedicated to the eradication of racism in all its forms.

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