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Statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Racism

These uncertain times remind us of the enduring strength of our community. We affirm our longstanding commitment developing an intentionally inclusive working and learning environment for everyone, and continue to embed the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in everything we do. On March 21, the University of Toronto joins the global community in observing the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (IDERD).

IDERD is an occasion for all of us to renew our responsibility to end racism and racial discrimination in all its forms. IDERD was first established by the United Nations in 1966 to commemorate the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa. Since then, the Apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled and there have been many international efforts to fight racist laws and practices in countries across the globe. IDERD provides an opportunity for us to recognize the important anti-racism work taking place institutionally, across Canada and worldwide.

However, racial, ethnic and faith-based discrimination continues to occur on a daily basis and to be manifested in various and often intersecting ways including systemic, individual and subtle forms. The University of Toronto as an academic leader, must continue to be resolute in our commitment to the principles of equity, human rights and social justice not only by advancing academic scholarship, research, and innovation but also by building intentionally inclusive communities.

The University of Toronto recognizes the importance of ongoing commitment and action to increase racial equity, diversity and inclusion on our campuses. A number of faculties, departments, and student groups across campus are engaged in exceptional work to address systemic and individual experiences of racism at our institution. The Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office in collaboration with its institutional partners plays a pivotal role in supporting leadership across the institution to engage in critical dialogue and strategic efforts on anti-racism initiatives through an intersectional lens.

Although this year’s IDERD pre-conference and conference have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we should make every effort to speak out against racial discrimination and remember that our diverse community is our greatest strength. We must continue to increase our strategies to address anti-Indigenous racism, the legacies of colonial violence, anti-Black racism, anti-Asian racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and all forms of racial discrimination and harassment. This IDERD we deepen our resolve to engage in critical dialogue and strategic action to advance inclusive learning, working and living environments.