Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism, issued this statement today:
"Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in B.C., and around the world. This special day remembers and commemorates those who were killed or wounded during a peaceful demonstration against apartheid on March 21, 1960, in Sharpeville, South Africa. Declared by the United Nations and officially proclaimed by British Columbia, this day is recognized around the world as an opportunity to raise awareness about racism and intolerance.
"As we all know, Canada is a country of immigrants, and British Columbia is a model society that embraces the cultures and traditions of its people with opportunities for all to live and grow. Even so, it is up to all of us to make sure we respect others, no matter where they come from or what their racial background may be. As the most ethnically diverse province in Canada, B.C. welcomes nearly 40,000 new immigrants every year - so embracing each and every culture is vital. Doing that makes for a better society.
"Racial discrimination comes in many forms, some very obvious and others more subtle. It really is up to each of us to counter racism through the actions we take both individually and collectively. By supporting opportunities to talk within and between communities we can promote multiculturalism and tackle racism.
"As British Columbians, we can be proud that the roots of multiculturalism run deep in our society. It is the responsibility of every one of us to ensure that it flourishes and grows for the benefit of everyone today, and for future generations.
"I encourage everyone to take some time today and think about what multiculturalism means to them and why racial discrimination in any form is something that should not occur in British Columbia in this day and age."