Last year, we went out to hear from as many human rights advocates and experts as we could about what they expect from Canada’s national human rights watchdog. Time and again, we heard the same message: that the Commission must put people first, that we must be an independent and outspoken national voice, and that we must make it easier for everyone in Canada to access human rights justice.
We heard you, and here is just a snapshot of what we’re doing so far.
From denouncing hate and intolerance, to calling for a moratorium on solitary confinement, to bringing parties to the table to find meaningful resolution to human rights conflicts, the Commission took the lead on pressing human rights issues—both publicly and behind the scenes. Through mediation and litigation, the Commission works to find consensus and clarify complex legal issues. This year, after a decade of legal wrangling, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that child welfare services on First Nations reserves are discriminatory. The Commission served as a bridge to bring the parties back together so that they could find reasonable and meaningful ways to implement this historic decision.
From appearing before Parliamentary Committees, to participating in expert panel discussions, to promoting acceptance and inclusion in schools, the Commission raised awareness and sparked discussion on some of Canada’s most pressing human rights issues.
The Commission continued its conversations with Parliamentarians, human rights advocates, First Nations organizations, employers, other human rights commissions, and community organizations that work directly with people living in vulnerable circumstances. These conversations helped the Commission share and gather information on Canada’s human rights issues—from hearing about the injustice faced by a single mother in a remote community, to understanding the implications of new federal legislation, to consulting on Canada’s international human rights obligations.