Dr. Swann Member Statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – 21 March 2017

Taken from the Alberta Hansard for Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

Member Statement – International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On behalf of the Liberal caucus I’m very pleased to stand in observance of today’s international day against racial discrimination. It’s taken on increasing relevance in light of recent events here in Alberta and around the world. Unfortunately, there are still too many examples of hatred and discrimination based on race and religion. Just last week police in Calgary were called to investigate anti-Semitic, anti-Islamic graffiti in an off-leash park. And a recent attack in Quebec in the mosque has demonstrated that hatred has a cost, a cost that is paid in human lives. That is why we take a stand today to support and promote the Albertan and Canadian values of mutual respect, inclusion, and diversity. We must be clear that such hatred is not acceptable.

I’d also like to take the opportunity to call our attention to more subtle forms of racial discrimination, particularly against indigenous people. Already burdened with the long and destructive legacy of residential schools and racism, that we have only just begun to address, First Nations people continue to struggle with racial discrimination and stigma that robs them of opportunity, contributes to isolation, mental illness, suicide rates five times the average, and violence. I acknowledge the leadership of this provincial government and the federal government in this regard.

A recent Maclean’s article compared aboriginal Canadians to African-Americans and found that aboriginal Canadians were in a worse state on almost every metric, from median income to incarceration rate to life expectancy. We cannot be complacent about this racial discrimination happening beneath our noses, Mr. Speaker. So I stand with the members of this Assembly in condemning any and all forms of discrimination. All people among us are worthy and have the right to live free of discrimination. Clearly, we must do more individually and collectively to put these fine words into action with policies and funding every day.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.