Everyone should have the right to participate freely and equally in political, social, economic and cultural life, says Danika Billie Rose Littlechild.
The anti-racism and anti-discrimination activist is one of the keynote speakers for the inaugural CommUnity — the Power of One event which commemorates the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Red Deer on March 19.
Littlechild will touch on challenges and achievements of the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the landmark document for fighting racism, intolerance and discrimination.
“We know there has been some progress made since 2001 internationally but it still continues to occur on a daily basis around the world,” said Littlechild. “We only have to look at examples all over the world and here in our backyard of issues around prejudice. Now we are in this digital age, there is a new vehicle for racism and prejudice to proliferate.”
Littlechild said there is a clear need to put into practice what was agreed to in Durban. She said the international day is a reminder to move forward collectively to ensure there is a commitment to take action.
The Cree lawyer from Ermineskin Cree Nation in Maskwacis works with Indigenous Peoples in Alberta and on the international front. She is the vice-president of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the first Indigenous woman to serve in this role.
Littlechild said she is excited to speak in Red Deer because the city became a member of the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination (CMARD) in 2013.
Littlechild is part of the working group that put together the suite of documents that established CMARD, that initiative calls on municipalities to sign a declaration to tackle racism and discrimination.
“The arena is wide open in terms of what Red Deer could choose to do or might choose to do to further combat racism and discrimination even under the CMARD initiative,” said Littlechild. “It’s really sort of a broad initiative that tries to be accommodating and inclusive as opposed to prescriptive telling municipalities what they should do to accomplish these goals. I am really excited about it.”
Regular community members are invited to attend the event to hear some stories, ideas and approaches that may help them in the course of their daily lives, said Littlechild.
“That can only have a positive ripple effect whether it is in their family or within their neighbourhood or work space,” said Littlechild.
The event runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel (6500 67th Street) in Red Deer.
A panel discussion will be led by former Red Deer mayor Morris Flewwelling. Darren Lund, a social justice activist and former Red Deer teacher will also speak. Lund formed an award-winning student activism program and has been acknowledged for his work in social justice and education.
The United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is held on March 21.
For more information or to register online go to www.immigrant-centre.ca/community. The event is limited to 250 participants.