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May 2024 DEI Commemorative Dates

May is a month of celebration and awareness with the month dedicated to occasions such as Asian Heritage Month, Canadian Jewish Heritage Month, and Mental Health Awareness Month. This month presents great opportunities for DEI practitioners to participate and make a difference in their communities.

Other Important Days This Month:

Asian Heritage Month

May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada—an opportunity for all Canadians to reflect on and learn more about the many achievements and contributions that Canadians of Asian heritage have made and continue to make across the country. The theme for Asian Heritage Month 2024 has not been announced. This month is also a reminder for all to come together to combat anti-Asian racism and discrimination in all its forms.

Canadian Jewish Heritage Month

Montreal and Toronto together account for about three-quarters of the Canadian Jewish population. By 1768, the number of Jews in Montreal had grown to a point where they decided to establish Canada’s first synagogue. A synagogue is a Jewish house of worship. May is a month to recognize, appreciate and celebrate Jewish Canadians’ contributions to the country.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Established in 1951, the Canadian Mental Health Association encourages Canadians to learn and talk with others about mental illness issues. This year’s theme is “A Call to be Kind” with the hashtag #CompassionConnects. May is a month for understanding mental health, recognizing mental health issues, and promoting awareness and compassion.

1st May: World Maternal Health Day

Women of every culture, age, income level, and race can develop perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Symptoms may appear at any time during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth. 1 in 5 new mothers experiences some perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD). The goal of this day is to improve the quality of care for women experiencing PMAD and reduce the stigma of mental illness. For more information, visit WMMHDay.

3rd May: World Press Freedom Day

UNESCO and Chile are hosting the 31st World Press Freedom Day and have various events planned between May 2-4, 2024. World Press Freedom Day is dedicated to celebrating the importance of journalism and freedom of expression in the current global environmental crisis.

5th May: National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (Red Dress Day)

May 5 is Red Dress Day, a day to remember and honour missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples (MMIWG2S+). This date serves as a reminder of the ongoing genocidal crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples. Wearing a red dress or any red clothing is a common way to show solidarity and support for the cause.

6th May: International No Diet Day

This date is celebrated annually with social media campaigns to encourage the rejection of diet culture. This celebration was first started in 1992 by British feminist Mary Evans Young. This movement aims to challenge diet culture, promote healthy relationships with food, raise questions about the safety and efficacy of commercial diets, and honour the victims of eating disorders and weight-loss surgeries.

12th May: Mother’s Day

In Canada, Mother’s Day lands on the second Sunday in May. It’s a celebration of motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

16th May: International Day of Living Together in Peace

The UN has declared 16th May every year, International Day of Living Together in Peace. Living together in peace is all about accepting differences and the ability to recognize, listen to, respect and accept others. The Declaration also recognizes that to fulfill such an aspiration, there is a need to eliminate all forms of discrimination and intolerance, including those based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.

16th May: Global Accessibility Awareness Day

The theme for this year’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is “Built Without Barriers.” This day aims to encourage everyone to talk, think, and learn about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility. The purpose of accessibility is to remove barriers and provide equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of their disabilities.

17th May: International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

What started as a grassroots initiative is now celebrated across the world. The date, May 17 was chosen to commemorate the decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1990. It was classified as a mental disorder. In 2009, transphobia was added to the name of the campaign, and biphobia was added in 2015.

21st May: World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

Held annually on May 21, UNESCO highlights this day for the richness of the world’s cultures and the essential role of intercultural dialogue in achieving peace and sustainable development. 89% of all current world conflicts occur in countries with low intercultural dialogue. To forge effective cooperation and sustain peace, strengthening intercultural dialogue needs to be a priority.

23rd May: Wesak (Buddhism)

Wesak, also known as Vesak, is a date celebrated by Buddhists and some Hindus. It signifies the birth, enlightenment, and death of Siddharta Gautama who is commonly known as Buddha. Wesak is generally celebrated in many countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia, such as Tibet and Mongolia.

24th May: Pansexual and Panromantic Day of Awareness

This day is to increase the visibility of pansexual identities within the LGBTQIA2S+ community and to combat the stigma and prejudice towards pansexual and panromantic people.

25th May: National Missing Children’s Day

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed National Missing Children’s Day in memory of Etan Patz, a 6-year-old boy who disappeared from a New York City street corner on May 25, 1979. This day is dedicated to encouraging parents, guardians and caregivers to make child safety a priority. National Missing Children’s Day serves as a reminder to continue our efforts to reunite missing children with their families.

25th May: George Floyd’s Death Anniversary 

The day of remembrance is to honour George Floyd’s life and the fight against racism and police brutality. 2024 marks the 4th year of Floyd’s murder.

25th May: Shavuot (Judaism)

Shavuot is the Jewish Feast of Weeks. It is celebrated every year on the 6th of Sivan (which translates to “season; time”). Shavuot combines two major religious observances. First, is the grain harvest of the early summer. Second, is the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai seven weeks after the exodus from Egypt.

26th May: National AccessAbility Week

Founded as “National Access Awareness Week” in 1988, this week is an opportunity to celebrate Canadians with disabilities and raise awareness of the critical need for accessibility and inclusion for all in our communities and workplaces.

How You Can Show Up for Communities This Month

Showing up for equity-deserving communities is essential this month and every month beyond. This month presents opportunities for community action. Showing up is a great, cost-effective way to actively participate in making a difference! Here are a few ways you could participate:

  • Educate yourself with learnings that can be found on our Instagram and LinkedIn
  • Donating to relevant organizations
  • Attend events and workshops in your local area or online
  • Volunteer your time and skills with organizations that serve marginalized communities

Remember to extend these efforts beyond the month and back them up with consistent actions to scale diversity, equity, and inclusivity in your workspaces and on individual levels!


Categories: Blog / Inclusive Workplace