Police and citizens have responsibility to uphold human rights and eradicate racismJune 3, 2020
In Saskatchewan and around the world, people are protesting and acknowledging the anguish of the affected communities. They are demonstrating to pressure their own governments to address racism and allegations of police misconduct. They are rallying, marching, and fighting for basic human rights.
The anger we see in many of these protests is, in large part, a result from the pain experienced by racialized and marginalized communities that comes from systemic racism, and the traumas that accompany it.
In Saskatchewan, Indigenous communities as well as other often racialized and marginalized communities know that pain all too well. Racism is an all too frequent part of lived experience. Negative experiences with police action have led to fear, distrust and adverse relationships. These communities have said, however, that the feeling of being over-policed and under-protected can be changed through improved police-community relations, and training that is mindful of history and the difficult experiences of racialized and minority communities.
There is no disputing that police have a complex job. They are mandated with protecting life and property, preventing and detecting crime, and preserving public peace. It is important that they do this according to the highest ideals of their code of conduct, with human rights always in mind.
Understanding, embracing, and protecting human rights is paramount. Not just for police, but for everyone in society. No exceptions. We have a responsibility to one another. It is the duty of the entire community to stand up and speak out against racism when we witness it. The burden is not to be carried alone by targeted groups.
No individual should be discriminated against or be made to live in fear for their lives because of the colour of their skin, their race, or perceived race. Racism and other forms of discrimination borne out of personal characteristics are contrary to the very essence of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
It is our responsibility as citizens to remain vigilant and, when necessary, act to eradicate bigotry, discrimination, and systemic racism in all its forms. It is encouraging to see that the response to, and condemnation of, recent events has come from people from diverse backgrounds – irrespective of perceived race, creed or other distinguishing factors which often divide society. This is evidence that there is more that unites us than divides us. We must accept that all people are created equal, have equal rights, and are equal before the law.
As members of one human family, it is our responsibility to respect others, to treat each other with dignity, and to protect and uphold the equality and rights of all human beings.
David M. Arnot, Chief Commissioner
Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission