A statement for March 21, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

A Statement by Neelam Sahota, Chief Executive Officer, DIVERSEcity, and Co-Chair, Surrey Local Immigration Partnership

March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a day that commemorates the killing of 69 people at a peaceful anti-apartheid demonstration in South Africa in 1960. That was 63 years ago.

Progress on anti-racism has been made since then, globally and in Canada, but there is still so much more work that needs to be done. In addition to overt examples of hate that we still witness in the 21st century, the long and complex history of colonialism, immigration and Indigenous relations means that discrimination is embedded in our systems.

We know that racial discrimination shows up in many forms – from the bias against hiring newcomers because they don’t have Canadian experience, to the challenges newcomers and racialized populations have in accessing services like health care and housing.

This understanding informs the work we do at DIVERSEcity to uplift people’s lives and create equitable access to employment, social services and community participation.

Last year, we were pleased to be one of the community organizations that hosted engagement sessions around the provincial government’s new anti-racism data legislation to help combat systemic and institutional racism in BC.

As the conveners of Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP), we also helped developed the digital Racism Mapping Project (RAMP). RAMP is a community-led research project that provides individuals who face racism and hate with a platform to report and share their experiences. For any transformational systems change, we need to have data and experiences working cohesively to create this change.

Anyone is welcome to share their stories anonymously on RAMP, including victims of racism, discrimination or hate — or those who witness it.

Want to share your experiences? You can report them here:

And share this tool with others, including your friends, family, colleagues and even local MLAs and MPs. The more voices we hear in Surrey and beyond, the more we can work together to #FightRacism.

We have, in fact, had much interest in expanding this tool across the province as well as nationally, and are looking for ways to meet this need. We all have the right to be treated equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, language, age or any other status. We need to work together to find ways to inspire change and eliminate racism in our workplaces, social systems and communities.

– Neelam Sahota, Chief Executive Officer, DIVERSEcity, and Co-Chair, Surrey LIP