March 21 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a day recognized by the United Nations to commemorate the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960.
The day is observed to bring together the world in order to end all racial discrimination.
On March 19 and 25, UTM’s Equity & Diversity Office hosted a photo campaign that gave students and faculty the chance to share their message about ending racial discrimination on a mini whiteboard.
“The actual day fell upon the weekend so we decided to stretch it out from before and after the weekend so it would stretch out our recognition of the day,” said Oli Clayton Bédard, one of the EDO Work-Study students who organized the event.
“When we approach some people, not all of them think that racial discrimination exists in Canada. So we have a discussion with them before they decide whether they have a message to express or not,” said Dima Saad, another student organizer.
“Everyone has a say in this issue in particular because everyone is affected by it. Everyone has privilege in a certain way, and everyone is complicit in oppressing others in a certain way. So I think everyone’s voice is valuable,” she said.
One of the messages written on the whiteboard read, “Canada was built upon and continues to thrive from the genocide of the Indigenous peoples, calling attention to our colonial history that we continue to benefit from and re-enact.”
The two-day event drew around 20 students and faculty in total.
IDERD has been held annually since 1966, in memory of the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960.
According to BBC News, about 69 black demonstrators were shot in that massacre and many were injured after hundreds of South African officers opened fire outside the municipal office of Sharpeville.
The demonstrators were protesting against the Pass laws, which required all black men and women to carry a reference book with them. Those found without this book would be arrested and detained. The protesters left their passbooks at home and presented themselves for arrest at the police station. Three hours into the event, it turned into a bloodbath, causing the protest to become one of the most violent demonstrations against apartheid in South Africa.