FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued by Claire Roussel-Sullivan, chairperson of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, regarding International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Sunday, March 21:

This year, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will be celebrated with the theme Youth standing up against racism. This is a wise choice, since our young leaders have demonstrated they can quickly organize and demand concrete action against racism and social inequality.

Since this day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966, our society has made progress in changing attitudes and placing the basic principle of equality in dignity and rights above all other considerations. However, racial and ethnic discrimination continues to appear every day, hindering all chances of prosperity for millions of people around the world.

Racism and intolerance take various forms – whether it is a refusal to allow people to benefit fully from the abundance of the land where they live or the incitement of racial hatred – and they can destroy lives and shatter communities.

We must do our part, and the recent announcement of a research project on systemic racism against Black people is certainly a step in the right direction. However, we need to expand our knowledge, leading to a true awareness of the realities of racism and systemic discrimination in our province. It is also essential to draw inspiration from international human rights tools to implement sustainable solutions.

For many years, New Brunswick has been undergoing a significant sociodemographic change, in which racial and ethnic minorities are making up an increasing percentage of our population. Between 2006 and 2016, the percentage of the population represented by ethnic minorities in our province increased from 1.9 per cent to 3.4 per cent. It is important to recognize the excellent work done by multicultural organizations to help newcomers settle here and discover their adopted land.

We all have a role to play in ensuring that our traditions – whether from here or elsewhere – continue to contribute to the development and diversity of our province. We are entering an era in which this will be an undeniable strength. All New Brunswickers must be able to find suitable employment and housing and receive health, educational, and other services without discrimination or harassment.

Today, I invite all New Brunswickers to celebrate our province’s ethnocultural diversity and continue to call for a concerted effort in our struggle against racism and discrimination.