This past Tuesday, March 21 members of the Davenport, High Park, and Junction communities along with police officers and Auxiliaries from 11 Division commemorated the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Assisted by members of 11 CPLC as well as Pastor Junn Lagud and the congregation and choir of the Hallelujah Fellowship Baptist Church, this community sang, danced, prayed and spoke on the efforts made locally and globally in ending racism.
It was 57 years ago on the 21st of March, 1960, in the township of Sharpeville, South Africa, that a crowd of over 10,000 protesters gathered to protest the Apartheid Pass Laws.
The fast-growing protest group prompted the call for police reinforcements who were supported by Saracen Armoured personnel carriers. Tragically, shooting started when the crowd began advancing toward the fence around the police station, and as a result, over 700 rounds of ammunition were fired killing 69 men, women and children and wounding 180.
The events in Sharpeville caused the world to reflect on how to end racial discrimination. In 1966, the United Nations General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination and proclaimed March 21 to be recognized and celebrated as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The Apartheid system in South Africa was eventually dismantled in 1994. Racist laws and practices have been reduced in many countries, and international frameworks were established in developing conventions addressing ongoing racial discrimination.
Guest speakers included Superintendent Heinz Kuck, Inspector Chris Boddy, Pastors Junn Lagud, Teck Uy, Johnny Dalisay, as well as, Philippine Consul Edwin Gil Mendoza. These guests spoke on the strength and beauty of different languages, creeds and cultures, the history of Apartheid, the events at Sharpeville, and what local Toronto faith communities and police can do together to combat racism.
This event successfully marked the end of 11 Divisions annual “trilogy” which includes; the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Commemorative Day (January 16th), Black History Month (February 2017)and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 21st).