Canada’s unions: hate and racism cannot continue to go unchecked

December 10, 2022

Canada’s unions have long brought workers together in solidarity and unity to carry on the fight against racism in our workplaces and communities. As we mark Human Rights Day—observed annually on December 10—Canada’s unions are calling out rising hate and racism, and underscoring the path set 25 years ago when they released the National Anti-Racism Task Force report titled Challenging Racism: Going Beyond Recommendations.

This ground-breaking report explored systemic racism in union structures, our communities, institutions and society. It highlighted the perspectives, concerns, and recommendations of labour and community activists from across the country.

“This year’s United Nations’ theme for Human Right Day is ‘Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All.’ We live by these words and adopt an anti-racism lens in all the work we do. However, while good progress has been made when it comes to advancing human rights and anti-racism in the twenty-five years since the release of the Task Force report, we know there is still work to be done to dismantle racism in all its forms,” said Larry Rousseau, CLC Executive-Vice President, “and we must all commit to working together to get there.”

Recent data from Statistics Canada showed a sharp rise in hate in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, underscoring the urgent necessity for this collective work. From 2019 to 2021, there was a 72 percent increase in reported hate crimes, largely targeting religion, race ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

“This rise in police-reported hate crimes is deeply troubling, and we know this is just the tip of the iceberg, as countless incidents go unreported,” said Bea Bruske, President of the CLC. “These alarming numbers demonstrate the effects of continued normalization and mainstreaming of hate. It is our responsibility to work together to counteract this trend by confronting all forms of racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and antisemitism.”

Canada also has an obligation to do more to address its history of colonialism and its legacy and ongoing impacts experienced by First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Canada’s unions continue to call on the federal government to implement every one of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

To mark Human Rights Day and celebrate 25 years of union activism against racism, the CLC will be hosting a webinar on December 13, 2022. Click here to register.

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