United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a success

Last Wednesday, the Kitchener City Hall Rotunda gallery was packed full of people for the United Nations (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Aside from just being a mouthful to say, the Cross Cultures run event has been going on for about 12 years now, steadily increasing awareness and eliminating discrimination with each following year. The general consensus was that the event was a huge success.

Jean Becker, a First Nations elder, and one of the speakers at the event said, “It was really a fantastic day. I thought that it was very moving, and inspiring.”

There were a number of presentations by students from immigrant communities — some who had only very recently immigrated from various parts of the world. They did presentations about being secluded, and what it’s like for them to come into a new country.

Becker remarked that several students from Wilfrid Laurier University made appearances too, including Cara Loft who conducted a presentation and a crafts session with some kids, and an Aboriginal drum group organized by Hilton King.

The day was exactly what its title stated: exterminating discrimination. This year however, happened to be a very Aboriginal-centric year, which is different from previous years.

When asked about this, Becker said, “This year it certainly was, it isn’t always. Although Gehan [Sabry] always makes an effort to include Aboriginal people in the day.”

Gehan Sabry, one of the head organizers for the event, had a reason for this.

While there was no exact count, Jean stated that, “There must have been 150 to 200 people there.”

Sabry said,“I never count. It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality. However, the place was full. I actually really find it insignificant to give a count.”

Sabry added, “We have always partnered with the city of Kitchener. But at the city, the mayor of Waterloo had always been present, and all the other levels of government and organizations and institutions have always been present. The actual location was not a bad issue,” he said. “There were even people who came up to me and said they were from the city of Stratford.”

Some notable people who were present at the event were the Liberal MP for the Ontario riding of Scarborough-Agincourt Jim Karygiannis, and ministers of citizenship and immigration Jason Kenny and Charles Sousa.

The UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is more than likely to appear in the same place next year, as it picks up more and more traction each year, garnering more people and more attention.

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