The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is observed on March 21, to collectively work towards the elimination of all forms of racism and inequalities, was observed with a full house last Thursday on March 21st at the 15th annual “Stop Racism” event at Langara.
Dignitaries, scholars, and students stood in solidarity to listen to outstanding keynote speeches and panelists highlighting the importance of tackling racism, and sharing their lived experiences of overcoming racism in productive ways. A letter from Premier of BC, John Horgan wrote a letter of support for the event commending the organizers and Langara for observing this day which was read out to the audience. The audience left inspired and having learned something refreshing about racism and having gained a deeper understanding.
- Minnijean Brown-Trickey, World renowned Civil Rights activist and Congressional Gold Medalist recipient and a political figure known as ”Little Rock Nine”
- RCMP Senior Sergeant Baltej Singh Dhillon, Centennial Award recipient, who was denied entry into the RCMP for refusing to remove his turban and eventually became the first RCMP officer to wear the turban on duty
- Steve Singh Rai, Deputy police Chief of Vancouver
- Shenan Charania, Transformative leadership and performance coach for youth
- Sukhmeet Singh Sachal, Founder of “Break the Divide”
- Jenifer Williams, Langara Student and Poetry Slam artist
Three awards of recognition towards anti-racism work were given out to Fatima Jaffer, Activist and Photojournalist, Ray Goldenchild, Soccer Coach, and Jenifer Williams, Langara Student and Poetry Slam artist. Also, a draw of ten one hundred dollar cheques towards books were drawn, followed by an engaging Q and A.
Organized by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Langara College, and Asian Pulse TV, and sponsored by philanthropist, Perminder Chohan, Managing Director of DFSIN, the event was moderated by Indira Prahst, and Kamilla Singh. It was officially opened with an Aboriginal greeting, and an opening prayer from well-respected Rosie White Elk, First Nations elder, medicine woman conveying stories of colonial histories. The organizers of the event wish to thank the sponsor Mr. Perminder Chohan, all the guests, supporters, youth volunteers, the office of the President of Langara, Communication and Marketing, Facilities, Audio/Visual Services, and Armin Prahst for the photography, and Boris for photo-editing.
In current geopolitical climates where racial tension, islamophobia, and violence continue to be motivated by hatred and fear, it is ever more urgent that we continue to observe this day. I see events like this one at Langara, as a space of resistance to illuminate the lived experiences of racism critically, and to remind people that there is agency and humanity.
Instructor and Past Chair, Dept of Sociology and Anthropology