National Day of Action for Racial Justice unites thousands across the country

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A group of people standing in front of a vehicle

To mark the August 1 Day of Emancipation, Unifor held a Day of Action for Racial Justice across Canada that included workplace, community and online actions through the August long weekend. Hundreds of members wore Unifor-designed t-shirts that read, “2020 Civil Rights Movement. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

“We can’t all be together like we used to, but we can still see the impact of collective action and our joint commitment to eliminating racism and creating a more equal and just society,” said Christine Maclin, Unifor Human Rights Director. “Unifor members are changing the things we cannot accept and demanding an end to systemic racism, today and every day.”

Unifor's National Day of Action for Racial Justice helped raise awareness of systemic racism in all its forms with educational events, sharing educational materials, holding moments of silence for Black, Indigenous, and racialized people killed in police interactions and some connected with historic sites of the Underground Railroad.

“Recognizing Emancipation Day in Canada will help with the dismantling of racism. Frankly, it’s long overdue,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer. “Marching on the streets with our incredible Unifor activists and leaders, and seeing actions take place across the country gives me hope that a better world is possible.”

Emancipation Day was only recognized in Ontario in the past. However, leading up to the Day of Action, Unifor National President Jerry Dias sent letters to all Premiers urging them to declare August 1 as Emancipation Day. As the Atlantic Aboriginal and Workers of Colour (AWOC) Committee prepared to take action in Africville, a historic Black community in Halifax, Premier Stephen McNeil sent a letter on July 31 to the union declaring August 1 Emancipation Day.

“I welcome Premier McNeil’s announcement recognizing Emancipation Day and I encourage premiers across the country to do the same and mark this day nationwide,” said Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director. “It was a privilege and honour to stand with our Atlantic AWOC committee to mark Emancipation Day in Africville and continue our fight to eliminate racism for a brighter future for all workers.”

These actions are first of many steps towards building solidarity and the continued battle to implement policy changes that are impactful and will assist in truly eliminating racism. Members are encouraged to continue supporting Black, Indigenous, and people of colour businesses and organizations. Please continue to lobby the government for federal anti-racism action plans.

To view photos from the actions held across the country click here.