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Marty Warren Statement on Asian Heritage Month 2019

In December 2001, the Senate adopted a motion proposed by Senator Vivienne Poy to officially designate May as Asian Heritage Month in Canada. In May 2002, the Government of Canada signed an official declaration to designate May as Asian Heritage Month. Along with Districts 3 and 5, District 6 celebrates Asian History Month with all Steelworkers. 

Asian Canadians include people from the following countries:

East Asia: China, Hong Kong, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan.
South Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Central Asia: Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Southeast Asia: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. 

While we recognize the contributions Asian Canadian people have provided, we are also aware that there is much more to be done to fight for human rights and equality for everyone. 

Because Asian Canadians comprise the largest groups of racialized people, it is important to take note of racial inequality in income, particularly in major cities where most Asian Canadians live. A recent Toronto Star article reports that people of colour earn 81 cents to the dollar of other Canadians. Discrimination in hiring practices in turn can lead to poverty. The latest federal government report on poverty in Canada states that 32% of all those living in poverty are people of colour, and that the greatest numbers live in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.  

During Asian Heritage Month, it is important to note that religious discrimination in our society and workplaces affects people from Central Asia. Islam has been the dominant religion in this region for the last 1,300 years. As Steelworkers, we must continue our fight to prevent Islamophobia in our workplaces and our communities.

As equality activists, I call on all Steelworkers to: 

  • Join with the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance to lobby federal and provincial governments for greater equality for people of colour
  • Use your collective agreement to promote diversity and prevent discrimination and racism in the workplace
  • Create a Human Rights Committee in your union local
  • Send members to USW equality workshops, including the “Preventing and Dealing with Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Violence in the Workplace” and “Human Rights are Workers’ Rights” workshops
  • Commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held in March of each year 

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
Director, District 6

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