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

March 17, 2020

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 marks the midterm review of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) undertaken by the Human Rights Council in Geneva as part of its 43rd session. "Whether as descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade or as more recent migrants, people of African descent constitute some of the poorest and most marginalized groups. They still have limited access to quality education, health services, housing and social security and their degree of political participation is often low. In addition, people of African descent can suffer from multiple forms of discrimination based on age, sex, language, religion, political opinion, social origin, property, disability, birth, or other status." The International Decade for People of African Descent provides a solid framework to take effective measures to address these issues in the spirit of recognition, justice and development.

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.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our members and the public must refrain from attending physical events, such as parades and rallies. We encourage you to take this time to research and educate yourself and others about the realities of racism, xenophobia and intolerance. The UN Human Rights Office has launched its #FightRacism campaign to foster a global culture of tolerance, equality and anti-discrimination. Join the conversation and share your support with your online communities using the hashtag #FightRacism.

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.

More Resources:

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.


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!

ONA International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Facebook Shareable