The Canadian Race Relations Foundation marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

TORONTO, March 19 /CNW/ - In 1966, The United Nations proclaimed March 21st as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day honours the lives of anti-apartheid demonstrators who were killed by police on March 21, 1960 in Sharpeville, South Africa.

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) marks this day noting that racism and racial discrimination are not things of the past. A few days ago, the CRRF and the Association for Canadian Studies (ASC) released a Leger Marketing survey which captures the state of race relations in Canada. Among the findings we note that 62% of the respondents believed that visible minorities are not treated the same as the majority. Similarly, a CBC-commissioned poll conducted by the Environics Research Group found one in three Canadians believe that Aboriginal Peoples and Muslims are the frequent targets of discrimination.

Today, racial discrimination is expressed as barriers to employment, lower income and education levels, and racial profiling - all on the basis of racial background, ethnicity, or religion. "Although racism is still with us, we have made some progress over the past few years", said Ayman Al-Yassini, CRRF Executive Director. "For example, our survey indicates that 75% of the respondents do not oppose mixed-race marriages; and 68% of the respondents felt that racism is on the decline", Al-Yassini added.

Despite this progress there is still a long way to go. Countering racism requires an ongoing, conscious and collective effort. The pain and trauma of racism is not always visible, nor is it easily measured. Regardless of the number of racist incidents, or the context in which they occur, racism is a dehumanizing experience that scars us all.

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation's mission is to shed light on the causes and manifestations of racism, provide independent, outspoken national leadership, and act as a resource and facilitator in the pursuit of equity, fairness and social justice for all Canadians. Founded as part of the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement, the CRRF is a registered charitable organization and has Special NGO Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

For further information: Aren Sarikyan - Project Associate: (416) 952-8360 or 1-888-240-4936; Dominique Etienne - Communications, social development: (416) 952-8171 or 1-888-240-4936