Canada honours first International Albinism Awareness Day

People with albinism cheering for International Albinism Awareness Day.

Tanzanian students honouring those fallen to violence against Albinos.

An excited emcee jolts energy to the crowd during International Albinism Awareness Day.

People around the world are born with albinism, a genetic condition that occurs due to a recessive gene carried by both parents. Unfortunately, people with albinism often face prejudice, bullying, or violence simply based on the colour of their skin.

In Tanzania, where the prevalence of albinism is the highest in the world, false myths and superstitious beliefs, often perpetuated by witchdoctors, pose a major challenge to people with albinism across the country and the greater continent.

The High Commission of Canada to Tanzania has taken an active role in advancing efforts to address discrimination and violence against people with albinism through engagement with local government and the diplomatic community.

The High Commission was proud to mark the first-ever International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) by playing a prominent role at two ceremonies that commemorated the occasion. The IAAD served as an important opportunity for Canada to raise the profile of key statistics, common myths, and international local commitments to ending discrimination and violence against people with albinism.

Leaders commemorate IAAD in Arusha

Canadian Ambassador to Tanzania, Alexandre Lévêque, joined government officials, ambassadors and country representatives of international organizations in Arusha, Tanzania to honour the first IAAD.

Every living person has the right to live, and attacks on those with albinism is not just ordinary killing but should be regarded as serious crimes against humanity,” stated Ambassador Lévêque in his address to the 1500 spectators gathered in Arusha.

Following Ambassador Lévêque, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, addressed attendees by highlighting the Tanzanian government’s efforts towards ending discrimination against people with albinism throughout the country.

“We will remember!” in Sengerema

On IAAD, the High Commission of Canada played an active role at a ceremony hosted by the Tanzanian government and Under the Same Sun (UTSS), a Canadian non-governmental organization committed to ending discrimination against people with albinism with a focus on Tanzania.

The ceremony was held in the centre of a small town in Lake Zone, Sengerema, where people with albinism from around the country traveled to attend the event and contribute to the discussions. In a heartfelt tribute to the victims of violence, spectators called a list of names of all known murdered people with albinism. “We will remember!” chanted the crowds, led by a school brass band.

The High Commission was honoured to commemorate IAAD in both Arusha and Sengerema, Tanzania to condemn violence against people with albinism in Tanzania and worldwide. While reiterating support for U.N. activity to advance the issue of albinism, the High Commission highlighted progress made by NGOs such as Under the Same Sun and the government of Tanzania. As a result, Canada has achieved international recognition as an advocate for the fundamental rights of people with albinism.