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.