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International Day

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination project celebrated its 24th anniversary March 21, 2011 with the Evening of Applause at Chippewa Secondary School.

Gary Gould, Don Curry, Debra Geddes and others formed the project in 1988 at Canadore College and the first event was held March 21, 1989 at the college. With funding from Canadian Heritage, approximately 2,000 students came by bus from area schools and attended a series of skits, songs, and talks with an anti-racism theme.

When Gould and Curry left the college in 1993 they took the project with them to The Canadian Centre for Social Justice, which later became Young People's Press. It has being going strong ever since and is now led by the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre.

The project is a partnership with the four district school boards, Canadore College, Nipissing University and Nbisiing Secondary School and is organized by volunteers from those organizations and the multicultural centre. Collège Boréal came on board in 2011.

The United Nations declared the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to commemorate March 21, 1960, when 70 people were killed and more than 100 wounded when South African police opened fire on peaceful anti-apartheid protesters in Sharpville.

Canada signed the International Covenant to Eliminate All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1977, but the federal government did not promote the day until 1989, when the Nipissing District project started.

The United Nations hoped that by commemorating the day each year around the world that it would nurture in all people the urgent and critical necessity of fostering harmonious race relations.

Our project honours Students Who Make a Difference, one per grade in the district plus one per high school, college and university. It also inducts someone each year to the Nipissing District Human Rights Hall of Fame. Their photos are displayed on the wall outside the library at Canadore College and Nipissing University.

The project also features an anti-racism poster contest and the annual Evening of Applause, which provides entertainment from participating schools and recognizes all the award recipients.

Each year the Evening of Applause is held at a different high school, rotated among the school boards. Cogeco cable television records the event and broadcasts it numerous times on Channel 12. The Nugget provides a two-page spread each year, featuring photos of the Students Who Make a Difference and articles about the March 21 event.