International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Racial justice makes our movement stronger

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was established to mark the anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre on March 21, 1960, when police in apartheid South Africa opened fire and killed 69 protesters fighting racist laws that entrenched inequality between Black South Africans and the white, settler population.  

Activists responded with renewed calls for international sanctions and pressure on companies that were exploiting Black South African workers. This galvanized the international labour movement, including in Canada.  

It is important to recognize that the apartheid system in South Africa was heavily influenced by Canada’s own racist model for Indigenous reserves and discriminatory policies towards Indigenous communities.  

PSAC’s work to eradicate racism and discrimination requires us to face inwards, in our union structures, as well as in workplaces, and in the community.  

PSAC’s Anti-Racism Action Plan 

PSAC’s Anti-Racism Action Plan aims to create a truly anti-racist union and address the underrepresentation of Indigenous, Black, Asian, Arab, and other racialized members in leadership roles within our union. 

The plan focuses on member education, better representation, greater engagement, and political action. PSAC consulted with members across the country to make our union more inclusive and to better represent our diverse membership.  

Learn more about PSAC’s Anti-Racism Action Plan. 

Indigenous communities deserve justice  

Families living with the unbearable impacts of systemic racism and trauma deserve justice for their loved ones. PSAC has  been calling for governments to complete a search of the Winnipeg landfill without delay where the remains of Indigenous women, Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran, and Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe, or Buffalo Woman, are believed to be. 

Our Still Thirsty for Justice campaign continues to advocate for water justice for all – particularly in Indigenous communities – and we’ve gathered stories from PSAC members and community members across the country grappling with the lack of the basic human right – access to safe, clean water.   

Pushing back against racism in institutions meant to safeguard human rights   

We brought the fight against anti-Black racism at the Canadian Human Rights Commission to the Senate of Canada where we pushed for action. We are urging the federal government to fully implement the Senate’s recommendations to eradicate anti-Black racism, sexism, and systemic discrimination.  

Recently, we joined a coalition of Black and community leaders to file a formal complaint against the Canadian Human Rights Commission for unchecked systemic racism and violations of international human rights treaties.  

PSAC also continues to support the Black Class Action’s fight to address decades of systemic racism against Black federal public service workers. 

Government action vital to achieve equity in the federal public service  

Many of PSAC’s recommendations to improve Canada’s Employment Equity Act were incorporated into the 187 recommendations of the Employment Equity Act Review Task Force. We continue to urge the government to implement all the Task Force’s recommendations.   

PSAC also continues to oppose Quebec’s Loi sur la laïcité de l'État (Bill 21) that disproportionately targets racialized workers in our efforts to protect the human rights of all workers everywhere. 

Celebrating Arab and Asian Heritage  
Next month, PSAC will celebrate Arab Heritage Month by recognizing Arab leaders who are pushing back against anti-Arab racism to build community in the fight against discrimination. In May, we will mark Asian Heritage Month to recognize the contributions of Asian communities and the challenges they face. 

Stay engaged and informed  


March 21, 2024