Prince Rupert School District 52 school students joined the growing movement to have Jan. 15, officially recognized as Black Shirt Day in a step toward anti-racism activism.
“This year’s inaugural event is very important on two levels: it’s a day during which people wear black shirts in recognition of the ongoing struggle for civil rights fought by Black and racialized Canadians, and a day of continued education in schools to combat racism,” a statement from the Anti-Racism Coalition who organized the day, said.
As Black Shirt Day awaits official recognition in the coming years, a social media movement surrounding this year’s event has been in the works since a petition was created in November.
More than 8,500 signatures province-wide, with a goal of 10,000 have been placed on the petition to B.C. Minister of Education Jenifer Whiteside. The petition calls for the designation of civil rights leader, Martin Luther King’s, birthday Jan. 15, as an official day to recognize the struggle for human and civil rights.
Across B.C., Orange Shirt Day, in solidarity with Indigenous victims of residential schools, and Pink Shirt Day to recognize anti-bullying are already recognized.
In a joint statement issued by Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, and Whiteside, they said they stand alongside every person who has faced – and continues to face – racism today and every day. Black Shirt Day is a grassroots initiative to show solidarity in the struggle for equity, equality, and justice.
“B.C.’s curriculum supports the teaching of Black history topics, such as the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the Underground Railroad. But we understand there is more work to be done to ensure an anti-racism lens is core in B.C.’s curriculum.”
“We will continue to listen and work collaboratively to ensure we can effectively strengthen the curriculum, further support diversity, and add to the global effort to end systemic racism,” Singh and Whiteside said.
“By learning to identify the language of racism and oppression, we can better respond to discrimination in our communities.”
With files from Lauren Collins and Adam Louis
K-J Millar | Journalist
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