March 10, 2000 Volume 7, Number 12


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Letters to
the Editor


from HRD




U of S to observe anti-racism day March 21

Message from Peter MacKinnon, President

In its Mission, the University of Saskatchewan affirms its commitment to provide an environment that fosters equal opportunity, dignity and the development of all individuals. Racial discrimination interferes with this objective and will not be condoned by the institution.

The University recognizes March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, through a series of events and activities across campus. Our Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy, Employment Equity Policy, and Education Equity initiatives are additional steps in the journey to eliminate racism. Through the provision of continued education and enforcement, we help to promote the important notion of equality.

We all have a responsibility to recognize and reject racial discrimination. I extend my thanks to the members of the campus community who participate in and support anti-racism initiatives. By working together to "Stand Up Against Racism", we can create a world where human dignity, fairness, and diversity are valued and celebrated.

History of March 21 campaign

On March 21, 1960, about 20,000 anti-apartheid demonstrators gathered outside the Sharpeville police station on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa. They were assembled to protest against a law that required black people to carry identification papers. Fewer than 100 police officers were present and tensions among them were high. When protesters began throwing stones, the police officers opened fire. As a result, 69 protesters died and 180 were wounded.

In 1966, the United Nations declared March 21 the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in honor of those killed in the Sharpeville Massacre.

In 1983, the General Assembly of the United Nations called upon all states and organizations to participate in a program of action to combat racism and racial discrimination.

On March 21, 1986, the Prime Minister of Canada encouraged Canadians to join together in "extending their efforts to ensure the rapid eradication of racism and racial discrimination and the realization of mutual understanding, respect, equality, and justice for all Canadians." Two years later, ministers attending a human rights conference agreed to commemorate March 21 in all Canadian jurisdictions.

In 1989, Canada was the first country in the world to hold a national March 21 campaign. Students across the country started expressing their views and taking action against racism by participating in the "Together We’re Better!" contest. That same year, the U of S recognized March 21 for the first time. Kurt Tischler, international student advisor, organized a number of events on campus. Several years later, Tischler established a committee to coordinate anti-racism initiatives.

The March 21 Planning Committee, co-chaired by Tischler and Carole Pond, Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services coordinator, is comprised of representatives from a wide range of campus units. The University community is encouraged to "Stand Up Against Racism" by supporting and participating in this year’s March 21 activities.

Racism: What is it, and what can we do to stop it?

Definition of racism

Before we can realistically try to stop racism, we need to understand exactly what it is and how to identify it. Very simply, racism is a combination of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination.

A stereotype is a generalization used to define a group of people based only on the words or deeds of one member of the group. When we oversimplify an individual or group by generalizing, we stereotype and fail to consider the differences in all of us.

Prejudice is an attitude, almost always negative, about a whole group of people.

Prejudice is exactly that - a pre-judgment based on stereotypes that we create with incomplete or inaccurate facts.

Discrimination is what we do because of our stereotypes and our prejudices. It is the action we take against others and it humiliates, belittles, or disadvantages our victim.

Racial discrimination denies people benefits and opportunities that other people enjoy in areas such as employment, education, and public services.

Identification of racism

Some kinds of racism are obvious. For example, an individual victimizes another through blatant name-calling or physical assault. Other kinds of racism are more difficult to see. For example, an employer may refrain from hiring qualified visible minorities. Finally, a great deal of subtle discrimination is unintentional. For example, a group may unintentionally exclude an individual of another race from their activities.

All levels of racial discrimination are destructive. If, as organizations and individuals, we continue to condone racist behavior, Canada’s social fabric will unravel and our country may weaken beyond repair - socially, economically, and politically.

Racism and the law

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission administers the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code to restore the rights of victims of discrimination, and to introduce measures to prevent discrimination before it happens. The Code states it is illegal for any employer or service provider under provincial jurisdiction to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, or religion in schools, housing, public services, contracts, publications, and on the job.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission offers the same protections under the Canadian Human Rights Act for complaints that arise in federally regulated areas such as government departments, chartered banks, and national airlines.

Elimination of racism

Although there are laws in place to stop people from acting on their prejudices and from discriminating against others, the battle against racial discrimination begins with the individual. You can start by exploring your own attitudes and adjusting them, if necessary.

There are a number of ways you can help eliminate racism in the workplace.

  • Object to racist jokes and insults

  • Encourage dialogue on racism and human rights

  • Help organize public awareness activities, such as a film series or public lecture

  • Examine existing hiring practices to ensure equality of opportunity for all

  • Support policy statements against all forms of racial discrimination

Racism, and the discrimination that results from it, prevents millions of Canadians from achieving social equality. Everyone has a responsibility to reject racism and to support those who are victimized. It is time to take that responsibility seriously, and time we all said no to racism.

* Adapted from "Erasing Racism", published by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, and "Say No to Racism", published by the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission.

Related websites

U of S March 21 website

U of S Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy

U of S Employment Equity

Past U of S March 21 activities

Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission

Government of Canada March 21 website

Get involved and "Stand Up Against Racism"

Be part of the University of Saskatchewan’s March 21 Stand Up Against Racism event. The March 21 Planning Committee is looking for several hundred people to volunteer one hour of their time to participate in this campus-wide initiative.

Hold up a "Racism: Stop It" sign in Upper Place Riel or the Arts Tunnel from 8:10-8:40 a.m. (or 8:20 a.m. for those who have an 8:30 commitment) on March 21.

  • WHO: All students and employees in the University community are welcome.

  • WHEN: Meet at 7:45 a.m. and hold the March 21 sign from 8:10-8:40 a.m. (or 8:20 a.m. if you have an 8:30 commitment).

  • WHERE: Meet in Marquis Hall by the University’s Main Bookstore. A March 21 Planning Committee member will provide you with a sign and show you where to stand.

  • WHY: Be part of a silent movement against racism –stand up again racial discrimination and celebrate diversity.

  • HOW: Contact Carole Pond by Monday, March 13 (phone 966-4936, fax 966-4103, e-mail

Campus Activities

March 13 — 24


  • U of S Bookstore (Main Store)
    8:30 a.m. — 5 p.m.
    Visit a display of books on the topics of discrimination, racism, and awareness.

March 21 (morning)

    March 21 Planning Committee
    8:10 — 8:40 a.m, Lower Place Riel and the Arts Tunnel
    Be part of the silent protest against racism by holding a March 21 sign. For more information, contact Carole Pond @ 966-4936.

    Student Affairs and Services
    8:30 a.m. — 12 noon, Information Kiosk, Lower Place Riel
    Student Affairs and Services will be handing out March 21 information and stickers as well as Hershey Hugs.

March 21 (afternoon)

    Indigenous Student Council
    1— 2 p.m., Lower Place Riel
    The Indigenous Student Council is hosting an aboriginal dance performance including pow wow dancing, exhibition dancing, and drum group singing.

    St. Thomas More College
    12 noon — 1 p.m., St. Thomas More College Auditorium
    Mr. Tom Molloy, Chief Negotiator for the Government of Canada, will be providing a free public lecture on the Niska Treaty and The Justice of Aboriginal Land Settlement.

    Student Affairs and Services
    12 noon — 4:30 p.m., Information Kiosk, Lower Place Riel
    Student Affairs and Services will be handing out March 21 information and stickers as well as Hershey Hugs.

    The University Chaplains
    2:30 — 4:30 p.m., St. Thomas More Auditorium
    The University Chaplains will be holding a film and discussion period.

March 22 (afternoon)

    Administrative and Supervisory Personnel Association (ASPA)
    12 noon — 1 p.m., Thorvaldson 183
    Kathy Gray and Charlotte Ross will lead a presentation and discussion.

    U of S Faculty Association
    2 — 4 p.m., Main Library, Rm 299
    This open forum will be on employment equity at the University of Saskatchewan within the context of eliminating racial discrimination.

Watch in your colleges and units for additional March 21 activities. For more information, contact Carol Pond at -4936 or visit the website at

Other March 21 activities will take place throughout the city. For more information, contact the Saskatoon Intercultural Association Inc. (978-1818) or the City of Saskatoon (975-3200).

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