March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

March 14, 2019

Each year on March 21, we join with unions, human rights activists and organizations worldwide to recognize the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Since the United Nations (UN) initiative was launched in 1966, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has been a part of the global fight to end all forms of racism and racial discrimination. It commemorates the lives of 69 people who were killed in 1960 while participating in a peaceful demonstration against apartheid in Sharpeville, South Africa.

This year’s theme is "Mitigating and countering rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies." One of our fundamental tasks is to promote -and protect- the human rights of our members, staff, and all Ontarians. We stand against racism, racial discrimination and intolerance. We stand for unity, inclusion and respect for diversity.

The knowledge, compassion and determination of nurses and health-care professionals make them leaders and role models in their communities. They lead by example, and stand up for the human rights of their patients, clients and coworkers when they recognize and speak out against racial discrimination and intolerance.


We encourage ONA members, their families and friends to join us in marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Now is the time to start preparing to attend an event in your community.

Because parades and events allow us to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to human rights before large public audiences, ONA will coordinate and fund registration fees for Locals/Bargaining Units that plan to participate, and where there are more than 40 member participants, an appropriate float/vehicle. Also remember that Locals can apply for political action monies under Policy 26.11 to ONA First Vice-President Cathryn Hoy before the event. Contact your Bargaining Unit President or Local Coordinator for more information.

If you or your Local will be participating in International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination activities in your community, let us know by emailing and we will post the details here for other ONA members. We also invite you to submit any photos from your event – be sure to include the names and Local number with your submission.

See below for details about 2019 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination events:

Check back soon for updates.

ONA Resources:

Learn more about ONA's Human Rights and Equity team and their ongoing work here. Watch ONA's "Human Rights and Equity Caucus" video and learn more about the role we play in promoting equity and diversity for our members in the workplace and in the Union.

Every ONA member has the right to equal opportunity and full participation in their workplace and in their union. Our Human Rights and Equity Team has prepared answers to frequently asked questions on various topics including how ONA members and leaders can recognize and deal with racial discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

More Resources:

Learn more about the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the United Nations webpage.

TOGETHER is a United Nations campaign that promotes respect safety and dignity for refugees and migrants. Launched in September 2016, its aim is to counter the rise in xenophobia and discrimination.

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation is Canada's leading agency dedicated to the elimination of racism and all forms of racial discrimination in Canadian society.

The labour movement plays an integral role in fighting racism and intolerance in the workplace and in society. Visit the Canadian Labour Congress website for background on a variety of topics affecting racialized workers.



We have prepared English and French versions of our International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination poster. Below you will find two versions of the poster: a generic poster (PDF) and one with a blank space at the bottom (Word) which Locals can customize with their own message and/or event details. Click on the document name below and download the PDF or Word document of your choosing.

We have also created this shareable image that you can download and post to your social media accounts. Show your support and spread the word!