A message from President David Black marking Black Shirt Day

January 13, 2021

On Friday, January 15 many school districts across British Columbia are joining together to acknowledge Black Shirt Day. It is part of an effort around the world to recognize this day – which coincides with the birthday of American civil rights activist Martin Luther King III – around the world.

The aim of Black Shirt Day is to bring into the spotlight the conversation of anti-racism and civil rights, particularly against Black people. Anti-racism activists locally have petitioned the B.C. government to recognize Black Shirt Day.

Black Shirt Day is also the same vein as Pink Shirt Day, which spotlights anti-bullying efforts, and Orange Shirt Day, which spotlights the shameful history of Canada’s residential school system in solidarity with Indigenous peoples.

All three of these movements share a similarity in that its roots come from engaged youths in our school systems who recognize the importance and need to highlight these issues and not only make them a talking point, but to actively shape our policies around them.

As a society, we should be very proud that it is our youth – our next generation – that is taking the lead.

Black Shirt Day, like Pink Shirt Day and Orange Shirt Day, cannot be simply a performative event that we engage in once a year. We are not doing it for marketing purposes. We are not doing it for an Instagram or a TikTok post.

It is our responsibility to listen, understand, and act. Our union is committed to progress, of learning how we can contribute to improving our union and our society to address these issues.

This Friday, January 15, we urge all our members and employer partners to recognize Black Shirt Day and continue the conversation on anti-racism and civil rights.

In solidarity,

David Black