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Marty Warren Statement for the International Day for the Elimination of Racism

This year on March 21st, District 6 of the Steelworkers celebrates the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This is an annual event marking the progress around the world in the fight against ethnic and racial discrimination. As a voice for workers in our workplaces, and, activism in the communities we live in, the union must be at the forefront of these efforts. Because of the demographic makeup of District 6, we have an important role to play.

With recent immigration and resettlement patterns to desired destinations in Canada, District 6 is a place where Canada redefines itself. Between Ontario and the Atlantic Provinces, cities of all sizes combine to create a significant amount of employment, and in all our workplaces and communities, we witness the changing diversities of race, ethnicity and religion.

In our workplaces, besides the obvious racial and ethnic diversity, we experience everyday changes in things like multiple languages in lunch areas, prayer rooms to accommodate for religious observance, and changes to clothing requirements in uniforms. In our communities, in addition to churches, we see a greater number of worship spaces, such as mosques and other religious centres.

To me, eliminating racism means also eliminating religious discrimination. I see the diverse racial groups, their ethnicities and their culture and traditions becoming common place in our union. Not only that, I see our members promoting diversity in our communities. That to me is a good sign that we are making progress in District 6’s fight for equality.

However, while we celebrate March 21st, we cannot stop our struggle for human rights. Carding of people continues to discriminate against all people of colour, particularly young black men. Religious discrimination still rears its ugly head, as witnessed in the burning of a mosque in Ontario during the last federal election.

To continue the fight against discrimination and to support equality, I urge us to:

  • Continue to lobby the federal government to provide improved equality legislation.
  • Protest against Canadian and international businesses and organizations that disrespect the rights of indigenous peoples, particularly in Africa.
  • Join with like-minded labour and community allies to stop racial profiling in police practices.
  • Build equality activism in our locals by promoting and attending Steelworker education workshops in human rights and anti-harassment in the workplace.

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