“The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.”
At Ben & Jerry’s, we have always been about “Peace, Love, and Ice Cream,” and when it comes to peace…we take it very seriously. Which means on September 21st, International Day of Peace, we are going to talk about more than just ice cream.
The 2022 theme for International Day of Peace is: “End Racism, Build Peace.” These are great words, but what does it take to end racism? To end racism, we need to dismantle white supremacy and a system that favours White people over others.
The past few years have brought about a racial reckoning in Canada. During the COVID-19 pandemic we saw an astronomical rise in hate crimes and anti-Asian racism, followed by the police murder of George Floyd, and then the repeated discoveries of unmarked graves of Indigenous children who attended residential schools. The signs are all to clear that there is a problem in Canada.
Canada has a reputation of being multicultural and accepting of all people and cultures; however, these previously-mentioned atrocities make it all too clear that this is just a facade. There is historical evidence that policies and practices have shut out Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour, attempting to limit their access and engagement in public realms whether it be through education, citizenship, access to work, or access to housing. We wish that such racist policies and practices were a thing of the past. Unfortunately that is not the case, and that means that there is real work that needs to be done!
What does racism look like in Canada?
We need to recognise that anti-Indigenous racism is ongoing. Indigenous people continue to have their land poisoned, stolen, or threatened by extractive corporations and governments. Indigenous youth are still overrepresented in foster care and the prison system. There continue to be stories of poor care being given to Indigenous people in the Canadian healthcare system. Despite apologies and promises of truth and reconciliation, only 13 of the 94 Calls to Action put out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have been completed in six years since the report was released.
Along with these overarching issues, we still see individual racism happen as a result of harmful stereotypes. If you see racism happening in front of you, intervene. Not sure how? Check out these great trainings: Bystander Intervention - Right To Be
Advocates have been sounding alarm bells in Canada and showing that Anti-Black racism is not just an issue in the United States. Since the early 1900s, there have been registered chapters of the KKK in Canada, and Canada has even had a number of immigration policy that curb Black immigration. In the past few decaes, the practices of “carding” showed that police were racially profiling and stopping many black people, gathering their personal information without reason and treating innocent people as criminals. Additional research in education shows that anti-black racism exists in schools, the legal system, and numerous other sectors.
This is why it is important to continue to support movements for black life in Canada and to recognize that it is not an issue that is isolated to south of the border.
People of colour
Many people of colour face daily, individual acts of racism every day; however, we cannot reduce racism to just individual acts of hate. Canada is responsible for racist policies that push people of colour out of society, or even out of its borders.
Canada’s history is not clean. Racist policies are evident in Canadian history, a few examples being the Chinese head tax, Japanese Internment camps, and turning away of the Komagata Maru– a boat that was met on the Pacific coast by the British-Indian army who fired shots at the boat.
Canada continues to have policies that make it challenging for migrants and people of colour to live, work, and access services. Foreign worker programs allow many people to come to Canada as caregivers and farmworkers, but deny them access to full health care, workers rights, and other social services that they pay into.
But many people are mobilizing. Our friends at the Migrant Rights Network recently had a Day of Action to call for Status for All. Many migrants are contributing to their communities, paying into Canadian taxes, and are still treated like second class citizens. The Migrant Rights Network wants change. And so do we.
End Racism. Dismantle White Supremacy. Then Build Peace.
While many Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour in Canada have to live with structural and individual racism every day, some are coming to terms with how bad the situation is. We agree with the UN in order to build peace, we need to end racism. But to end racism, we need to dismantle White Supremacy.