"On this International Day for the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination, we pledge to stand by our committments to the Syrian people who have traveled so far and long to get here, as well as to those in our communities who struggle for equality every day." — James Clancy, NUPGE National President
Ottawa (21 March 2016) — March 21 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a day to reflect on racism in our communities and to redouble our efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
Unions met Syrian refugee crisis with support and solidarity
Although the Syrian refugee crisis had been building since 2011 due to the civil war that led millions to flee their homes, the haunting picture of a dead three-year-old boy lying on the beach in Turkey finally made the rest of the world aware of the tragic reality.
The labour movement was among the first to offer assistance and to call on the federal government to respond.
Strong coalitions built to meet urgent need
In October 2015, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), of which the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is an affiliate, established a special fund, in partnership with the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), to help support the settlement of Syrian refugees in Canada. The National Union joined with other affiliates in the CLC to raise money and put pressure on the govenrment to respond with means commensurate to the exceptional nature of this crisis. That fund has raised more than $200,000 so far.
In December 2015, the CLC, and its affiliates, launched an unprecedented partnership with business, faith and community groups to welcome and support the resettlement of Syrian refugees.
Union members push back against racial discrimination
Thousands of union members across the country are working together or making donations to welcome, house, feed and clothe families new to Canada in the heart of winter. People are looking beyond their own issues and struggles, to support their communities in caring for the new families.
"Even while people across the country are struggling and are in need of support, they have welcomed Syrian refugees as though they were their own family," said Clancy.
"When there were backlashes in communities, with grafiti and even violence, people's resolve did not wane, it got stronger," he said.
"Unions and their members have a long history of pushing for equality and fairness," Clancy said, "this job is never done, though. On this International Day for the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination, we pledge to stand by our committments to the Syrian people who have traveled so far and long to get here, as well as to those in our communities who struggle for equality each and every day."
For more information on how to help, see the Canadian Labour Congress's Welcome Guide.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE