Race Relations Day (Thursday 21 March) provides a chance to remember the victims and survivors of the attacks in Christchurch and reflect on how we can create a more harmonious society, Pancha Narayanan, National President of Multicultural New Zealand says.
This year we will mark Race Relations Day with heavy hearts as we remember the 50 people who lost their lives while peacefully worshipping,” Mr Narayanan says.
Race Relations Day is observed around the world, annually on March 21 in conjunction with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The day was initially recognised to commemorate the 69 people – including 10 children – who were killed while peacefully protesting Apartheid laws in Sharpeville in 1960.
“Let us mark this important day by remembering those who died; learn their names and their stories; and honour their lives and their legacies.
We would also call for New Zealanders to take part in the two-minute silence on Friday announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Mr Narayanan says.
“In these sad times the strength and the resolve of our community not to give in to hatred has been shown as New Zealanders embrace one another to comfort and console,” Mr Narayanan says.
"People of all cultures and faiths have come together to show their grief in this difficult time, with an outpouring of solidarity and unity with our Muslim brothers and sisters.
"As we remember, it is also a time to reflect on the country we want to build. Becoming a Treaty-based multicultural society will not come without hard work. We must listen to each other and work collectively to make it happen, Mr Narayanan says.
"Let us stand united against racism and hate wherever and whenever we see it."
Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Paul Hunt, called on New Zealanders to take the time to remember this Race Relations Day and connect with each other.
"The theme of this year’s Race Relations Day – ‘O tātou iwi, ō tātou ahurea, ō tātou reo – our people, our cultures, our languages’ – reflects the diversity we need to embrace as we continue the work of building a harmonious society," Mr Hunt says.
Multicultural New Zealand (the Federation of Multicultural Councils Inc.) is a national organisation presides over 23 constituent regional multicultural councils and 38 Newcomers Network throughout New Zealand and national councils for women, youth, seniors and business. More information can be found at www.multiculturalnz.org.nz
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