March 21 has been recognized since 1966 by the United Nations as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Canada was one of the first countries to support the UN initiative and in 1989 responded with an annual March 21 campaign.
The campaign was initiated to enhance awareness of the destructive effects of racism, to promote respect and demonstrate Canada's commitment to equality and diversity. For more than 10 years, the campaign has mobilized youth across Canada to rise up and to take a stand against racism. This year a video competition is being held to enable youth to participate through the arts and media.
Related, is this year's United Nations 2001 international conference against racism which will be held Aug. 31 Sept. 7 in Durban, South Africa.
The preparation for this event has spanned three years. Several Canadian government departments such as Heritage and Foreign Affairs have been involved in preparations and consultations along with other member state governments. Nongovernmental organizations internationally have also been involved.
Several faculty members at Canadian universities have been consulted, including Gerry Gall of the University of Alberta Law School. Professor Gall, a member of the advisory committee to the Canadian secretariat and a member of the issues subcommittee, has been actively involved in process preparations as well as the drafting of the issue position paper Redress for Past Government Wrongs. He and other members of the advisory committee as well as NGO delegates attended the national consultations in Ottawa in late February.
At Queen's University, a monumental research project called the South African Migration Project (SAMP) has been initiated. The project also has a focus on racism and xenophobia issues. Project director Jonathan Crush, a member of the geography department, works in partnership with the South African agency "Idasfa" which will likely be representing the partnership at the Durban conference.
In preparation for this event SAMP has provided a resource guide to the growing problem of xenophobia in South Africa at www.queensu.ca/samp.
At the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Canada will have a unique opportunity to contribute to a new world vision in the fight against racism in the 21st century by promoting the Canadian way of mutual respect and understanding.
Submissions from individuals or NGOs are invited as set out in the web site information below. The sites also contain papers that have been produced and further papers will be posted as completed.
Canada's consultations: http://www.pch.gc.ca/world-conference-mondiale/consult/index_e.shtml#natcons.
Schedule of consultations: http://www.pch.gc.ca/world-conference-mondiale/consult/ schedule_e.shtml#dates.
Resource centre: http://www.pch.gc.ca/world-conference-mondiale/res/faq_e.shtml.
Related links: http://www.pch.gc.ca/world-conference-mondiale/links-liens/index_e.shtml.
NGOs: http://www.pch.gc.ca/world-con ference-mondiale/ngo/index_e.shtml.
Frequently asked questions: http://www.pch.gc.ca/world-conference-mondiale/res/faq_e.shtml.
UN site documents: http://www.unhchr.ch/huridocda/huridoca.nsf/FramePage/
UN site main infomation: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/racism/index.htm.
Information on Canada's March 21 campaign is available at: http://www.pch.gc.ca/march-21-mars/main_e.shtml.