This video is a reading of an updated version of our “Statement of Solidarity with People Fighting Against Systemic Anti-Black Racism,” originally published June 4th, 2020. This updated statement was made in consultation with BlackLivesMatter NL.

FULL STATEMENT:

The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour (NLFL) and its 70,000 union members, stand in solidarity with the millions of people protesting systemic anti-Black racism in the United States and Canada, and elsewhere.

We are angered, outraged and sick in our hearts and souls by the brutal death of George Floyd in Minnesota. We share the pain of this loss. For those of us who strive for social justice and an equitable world, we are starkly reminded that the struggle is far from over. It is hard to fathom how such hatred can exist today.

We believe that an injury to one is an injury to all. For many years – our diverse labour movement has participated in the struggle to make gains for a more equitable world, though legislative and collective bargaining changes, which are intended to ensure that all workers, regardless of race, ethnicity, skin colour, sexuality, socio-economic status, ability, age, religion, gender, and nationality, can live and love in safety; and with the same rights that we all deserve.

Our collective call to action becomes even more critical when our laws that declare us equal are so egregiously violate the laws that declare us equal. To watch the violence, the ultimate act of hatred, happen so suddenly and without warning, speaks to a deep-rooted anti-Black racist culture, which some white people are in denial about the impact.

We need to name it and acknowledge that anti-Black racism exists everywhere; and yes – also in our country and province. Anti-black racism has been used to generate white wealth and prosperity for hundreds of years through the killing of Black people, the destruction of Black communities, and the persistence of everyday racism in Canada.

We have a responsibility to take a stand against anti-Black racism and violence that is perpetrated on Black bodies, to make sure we hold space for Black workers, and to continue to defend the absolute right to protest against such injustices, even if those in power feel uncomfortable.

As we continue our work within our unions and with the broader community, we pledge to challenge anti-Black racism and all forms of violence, and to continue to work to eradicate systemic and individual forms of racism, police brutality and institutional marginalization.

But more than that – we will talk to each other about a better world, where love and justice prevail. We commit to channel the anger we feel about such deplorable actions, towards a renewed and strengthened promise to use our voices, actions, and energy to eradicate anti-Black racism.

Mary Shortall

President, Newfoundland & Labrador Federation of Labour