Sixty years ago, on March 21, 1960, police turned their guns on a peaceful anti-apartheid demonstration outside Sharpsville, South Africa.

Sixty-nine people were killed and more than 180 were wounded.

The Sharpsville Massacre, as the event came to be known, gained world-wide attention. Calls for change echoed around the globe. In 1966, the United Nations declared March 21 the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, asking the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racism.

Much has changed since then. The South African apartheid system has been dismantled. Racist laws and practices have been abolished in countries around the world, and an international framework for fighting racism has been created, guided by the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Despite these improvements, and despite far-reaching and dedicated efforts, racism remains an unfortunate reality throughout the world and here at home.

Many Saskatchewan citizens are still denied respect and opportunities. Discriminatory behavior based on race or perceived race, ancestry, nationality and colour continues to deny people equality in important areas of their lives including employment, education, housing, and public services.

This has to change, and the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission has an important role to play in affecting that change. With increased emphasis on our public education initiatives, the Commission is working diligently to advance the principles of equality and diversity.

Education is the antidote to ignorance, racism, hate, and malice. It is the light that will lead us to then end of this tunnel.

The Commission remains dedicated to using education as a tool to:

  • encourage an understanding and appreciation for human rights in our schools, businesses, and communities;
  • create a vibrant, welcoming, inclusive society; and
  • help build a province in which respect for one another becomes a defining value of our time.

We are all one human family, and every member of this family deserves equal moral consideration.