More than half a century after the massacre that inspired the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, its goal remains disturbingly elusive.
Canada has a history of racial discrimination, yet progress is possible as people come to view cultural diversity as a virtue, a rally heard on Thursday.
About 70 people gathered in Spirit Square to share thoughts on the goal before a short march across the street to the new office of Kamloops Cariboo Regional Immigrant Society.
"This is not a protest march," said Paul Lagace, the society's executive director. "This is a march to acknowledge that we should try to get along better with each other and bring an end to racism."
"We still have a ways to go to end discrimination in this country," said Mayor Peter Milobar, noting the experience of a Saudi family in Kamloops earlier in the week. A newly arrived mother was scolded by a stranger in a supermarket for wearing a hijab, a veil she chooses to wear.
"We can't be complacent on this issue," said NDP candidate Kathy Kendall. People must stand up and be heard, she said.
"This is a country that has a shameful history of dealing with religious and ethnic minorities," said fellow NDP candidate Tom Friedman, who stressed education. "Apologies are not enough."
Tom Dhaliwal, a Sikh temple member, described racial discrimination as an attempt to demean other individuals. He said a sign outside the immigration society's door sums up the circumstance: "We can do better together."
"We all have a job here to do," Dhaliwal said.
With an imminent provincial election, one politician took note of the attendance of various candidates.
"On this particular day, we are all united as friends and people who live in a great community," said Todd Stone, Liberal candidate. His company staff includes people from a dozen different cultural backgrounds.
"The diversity we enjoy in Kamloops and across Canada is a tremendous strength," Stone added.
Asked afterwards for his take on the Liberal's draft multicultural outreach strategy, Stone said its contents were inappropriate and any use of taxpayer funds for partisan gain in unacceptable. The premier apologized and two bureaucrats lost their jobs, but political practice of courting ethnic votes is not to be dismissed, he said.
"Every political party in every province in the country engages in multicultural outreach," he said.
Ethnic minorities and new immigrants don't vote as a bloc, but they can help to boost voter participation, he added.
Geoffrey Otto, a Ugandan immigrant who is involved with a new welcoming program in Kamloops, said he's experienced discrimination firsthand through employee policies and insensitive language.
He pointed out that local retailers are missing opportunities to serve minorities with specialized products.
The Day to End Racial Discrimination was designated by the UN in 1966, six years after South African police in Sharpeville killed 69 people who were demonstrating peacefully.