March 21: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination


Maya Angelou

March 21st is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The theme for this year focuses on the urgency of combating racism and racial discrimination, 75 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

At HSA, we recognize that there is a lot of work to be done to combat racial discrimination at the level of the individual (self-awareness), the interpersonal (how we build and maintain relationships) and the institutional (systemic and structural oppression). We are committed to doing the work of becoming an anti-racist union.

The actions we have taken include:

  • ongoing support for the BIPOC Caucus
  • establishing the Racial Justice Committee
  • forming a member-led Indigenous Advisory Circle
  • adding an Anti-Racism Lead staff position
  • ongoing member education
  • ongoing staff education
  • internal policy and process changes
  • bargaining to address Indigenous-specific anti-racism in public sector collective agreements
  • working with Labour Relation Officers on complex cases that involve racism
  • documenting and building cases for next rounds of collective bargaining
  • giving input to and staying in touch with the people working towards Anti-Racism Data Act
  • giving input to and staying in touch with people working towards the implementation of the recommendations from In Plain Sight and the actioning of the Cultural Safety and Humility Standards in healthcare

Anti-racism work starts with each one of us. At the individual level, we can examine our biases, stereotypes, internal biases, and prejudices. At the interpersonal level, we can commit to fostering relationships that are approached with openness, humility, and curiosity that does not reproduce micro-aggressive experiences. Building better interpersonal relationships facilitates some of the much needed institutional and structural level change wherein we transform the ways in which racism is embedded into the fabric of our society.

We are just beginning this work, which we recognize is intergenerational, and will take each one of us to make any significant impacts in the harms caused by racism. 

We encourage all members to take actions towards becoming anti-racist. Some learning opportunities are shared below:

Register for HSA's Anti-Racism Workshop, March 29-30 (online) here 

External Learning Opportunities:

  1. Diversity Circles, part of the BCIT Respect, Diversity, and Inclusion office, is hosting a panel discussion moderated by Orrett Morgan, where special guests Ndidi Cascade, Tariq Tyab, and Khari Wendell McClelland will share their thoughts, opinions, and experiences on this important day of observance. In-person event. Learn more here.
  2. Free online course on anti-racism: Anti-Racism Awareness Course (
  3. In-person march. Thousands to mark this observance across Canada by calling for equal rights and permanent resident status for migrants and refugees. Learn more here.