Leaders of 11 Canadian churches and faith-based organizations have issued a joint statement committing their communities to recognizing and honouring the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015–2024).
The International Decade is a call for churches, governments, and societies to do more to address anti-Black racism in Canada and globally. The main objectives of the International Decade are to:
- Promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people of African Descent;
- Promote a greater knowledge of and respect for the diverse heritage, culture and contributions of people of African Descent;
- Adopt and strengthen legal frameworks for the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.
The Decade also recognizes there are particular forms of discrimination faced by people of African Descent and the need to take effective measures in working towards equity and justice.
There are around 200 million people identifying themselves as being of African descent live in the Americas. Many millions more live in other parts of the world, outside of the African continent.
Whether as descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade or as more recent migrants, they constitute some of the poorest and most marginalized groups. In many cases, their situation remains largely invisible, and insufficient recognition and respect have been given to the efforts of people of African descent to seek redress for their present condition. They all too often experience discrimination in their access to justice, and face alarmingly high rates of police violence, together with racial profiling.
The statement by churches and organizations is a part of their commitment to work together to address the root causes and current manifestations of anti-Black racism within the church, gather and share resources, facilitate deeper understanding of human rights, and help eradicate racism.
The signatories to the statement recognize that in the Canadian context, churches have been a part of perpetuating injustice and violence, both directly and indirectly, to people of African Descent.
The leaders of other churches and organizations are invited to endorse the statement. The leaders of the three denominations who initiated this statement: The Anglican Church of Canada; The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; and the United Church of Canada also issued an invitation to commit resources to recognizing the decade and to ask The Canadian Council of Churches to make the objectives of the decade a priority.
The statement was signed by the leaders of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Anglican Church of Canada, United Church of Canada, Christian Reformed Church in North America, Citizens for Public Justice, Christian Church in Canada, Community of Christ in Canada, Northeast American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, The Salvation Army, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, and the Archdiocese of Canada of the Orthodox Church in America. Other Churches and organizations are expected to sign on in the weeks ahead.