BCFED statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

March 21, 2022 | Statement

(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC) The BC Federation of Labour today released the following statement:

It can be challenging to recognize racism for what it is, especially when it’s deeply embedded in unstated assumptions about whose stories and voices matter. That’s what makes this year’s theme for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination — “Voices for action against racism” — so timely. It raises crucial questions about whose voices are heard and whose are not, as we work for a more equitable, inclusive world.

Think of how western countries, including Canada and British Columbia, have rightly responded with compassion and openness toward those fleeing the horrific war in Ukraine. Yet we seem so often reluctant to extend the same welcome and attention to those dislocated by wars and other brutal conflicts in such places as Yemen, Ethiopia and Syria.

Closer to home, the climate catastrophes of the past year affected hundreds of thousands of people in British Columbia. The impacts of those disasters landed especially heavily on the shoulders of Indigenous communities and racialized people, from the terrible toll on First Nations land and homes, to the migrant farmworkers whose jobs vanished as the floodwaters rose, to undocumented workers who dared not reach out for the assistance they desperately needed. Those communities have plenty to teach us about environmental racism — and about addressing and mitigating the impacts of climate change. And the ongoing Covid pandemic has exposed BC's Asian community to unacceptable incidents of hate, harassment and even violence. We must do more to ensure this community's voices are heard.

So let’s recommit to recognizing and lifting up the work of ending racism at every level: individual relationships, the workplace, systemic structures of oppression, all the way up to international and global issues. And in particular, let’s amplify the voices of those who are doing that work, and waging those daily struggles — especially in the labour movement. They help remind us that our work must be intersectional in every facet. As a labour movement that fights for the voices of working people, we commit to doing more to ensure those include all working people.