That’s the theme of this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It calls on people everywhere to strengthen and consolidate their voices against racism, to mobilise against all forms and all manifestations of racial discrimination and injustice, and to ensure a safe environment for those who speak up.
Why March 21? Each year, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination marks the day police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in 1960.
As educators, colleges and institutes play a vital role in combatting systemic racism and discrimination. In areas like healthcare and public safety, they ensure that workers are given tools to protect public spaces against injustice, now and in the future.
- At Justice Institute of British Columbia, the Police Academy provides future municipal police officers with anti-racism and bias-free training through crisis intervention de-escalation techniques and scenario training involving vulnerable persons. In each debriefing session, learners are asked to reflect on what strategies they used, or could have used, to ensure that their future interventions as municipal police officers are fair, impartial, and bias free.
- At Cégep de Chicoutimi, AIDE-mémoire is a training tool designed to help students in healthcare in Indigenous settings better address cultural sensitivities and systemic discrimination in healthcare. The tool was designed in collaboration with the Miro Matisiwin clinic at Saguenay’s Indigenous Friendship Centre for students in any of the cégep’s seven healthcare or psychology programs.
- At Collège d’Alma, the Police Technologies for First Nations program(Techniques policières des Premières Nations) trains public safety officials with particular emphasis on the unique realities and challenges often faced by Indigenous communities.
- Similarly, at Cégep de Rimouski is working to integrate new training in its police technologies program designed to provide future police officers with tools to address racial profiling and discrimination.
- In Continuing Education at NAIT, the Racial Equity Strategies course gives learners an understanding of the impacts of racism, power, and privilege; their own social location; and the intersectionality of identities. Strategies help learners become effective allies in their workplaces and communities.
- At Centennial College, the Race Matters: Challenging Racism course explores how systemic racism impacts our everyday lives through things like education, housing, employment, and media. The course equips learners with the tools to help combat racism and ethnic discrimination present in Canadian society.
- At New Brunswick Community College, researchers are partnering with Black Lives Matter to study the key indicators of systemic anti-Black racism in the province and address barriers faced by the Black community. The study will look at how to change New Brunswick’s health care, education, social development, and justice sectors to make the province more racially equitable.
As institutions, we also recognize that systemic racism and discrimination exist in Canada and have work to do to address the challenges to success that Black students, Indigenous students, Asian students, and other visible minorities often face.
- At George Brown College, the brand-new Black Futures Hub is part of the college’s Anti-racism Strategy and Action Plan. The hub offers anti-racism resources, including an anti-racism simulator that uses avatars and interactions with virtual humans to encourage learners to reflect on microaggressions safely and effectively.
- At Confederation College, the Decolonization Report marks an important step in the college’s decolonization journey and outlines how the college will act on each of the recommendations from its internal review of systemic racism.
- At Kwantlen Polytechnic University, the Taskforce on Anti-racism is a cross-institutional approach for teaching, learning, research, scholarship, and institutional change on racial equity, systemic oppression, and intersectional social justice. Check out their anti-racism blog and resources!
- At Red River College Polytechnic, employees and students can take self-directed anti-racism training that tackles concepts of privilege, unconscious bias and decision-making, the difference between anti-racism and systemic racism, and microagressions with a particular focus on anti-black racism.
- At NorQuest College, the Colbourne Institute for Inclusive Leadership offers services that encourage and support other organizations in developing and sustaining inclusive cultures, including customized and focused training solutions and strategic consulting and measurement.
It’s not enough to be “not racist.” Anti-racism means that we must reflect on unconscious biases and institutional and structural policies that allow racism to exist, and consistently work to identify and dismantle them.