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Alberta Human Rights Information Service March 7, 2012

In this issue:

Commission news

Other human rights and diversity news:

Alberta news
Canadian news
International news

Related publications and resources


1. Recent tribunal decisions: The Commission recently released the following tribunal decisions:

Ludmila Sereditch v. Ukrainian Canadian Congress - Alberta Provincial Council (January 20, 2012; Jennifer Burns, Tribunal Chair)

Doreen Pelley v. Northern Gateway Regional School Division and First Student Canada and Marlene Albers v. Northern Gateway Regional School Division and 1098754 Alberta Ltd. (Preliminary matters decision; January 30, 2012; William D. McFetridge, Tribunal Chair) 

These tribunal decisions can now be accessed free of charge through the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) website.

2. Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination (CMARD) update:

The Town of Devon has recently joined CMARD, bringing the number of Alberta municipalities involved in the Coalition to 13. Read the List of Signatory Municipalities who have joined the Coalition. 

  • The Canadian Commission for UNESCO recently launched the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination: Toolkit for Municipalities, Organizations and Citizens. The toolkit offers practical information on how to join the Coalition, useful tools, best practices and other resources. From this web page, you can download the entire toolkit, or sections of the toolkit.

  • On February 3, 2012, Blair Mason, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, participated in and spoke at the Discover Diversity Conference: Educate, Celebrate, and Respond for a "Welcoming and Inclusive Lethbridge." The conference, organized by the City of Lethbridge, the University of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination (CMARD) Committee, was attended by over 200 participants from various community organizations and individuals from Lethbridge and Southern Alberta. The conference increased awareness and understanding of Lethbridge's diverse communities, the impact of racism and discrimination on diverse communities and how the community can respond to combat racism and discrimination and ensure that everyone is welcomed and included. It is the second conference organized by these organizations to support the Lethbridge community to advance its CMARD goals. The first conference was held in September 2010.
  • 3. Four appointments to the Commission: An acting director and three new part-time members of the Commission were appointed to the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Audrey Dean, the Commisson's senior legal counsel, has been appointed as the acting director. She will perform the director's duties until a permanent director is appointed. The new members of the Commission are Catherine Christopher,Q.C., Sharon Lindgren-Hewlett and Melissa Luhtanen. Their terms will end on December 31, 2014. You can read the biographies of members of the Commission and the Government of Alberta new release.  

    4. Two members of the Commission honoured with Queen's Counsel appointments: Two members of the Commission, Geeta Bharadia and William D. McFetridge, were honoured with Queen's Counsel appointments for their contributions to the legal profession and to their communities. From the news release: "This designation recognizes the excellent skill and expertise exhibited by lawyers in Alberta," said Verlyn Olson, Q.C., Minister of Justice and Attorney General. "It is also a mark of the outstanding contributions they have made to the profession and in their communities." Read the biographies of the members of the Commission.

    5. Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund:

    The Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund (HREMF) supports communities and organizations to make changes so that all Albertans can contribute to the economic, social and cultural life of the province without discrimination. The HREMF also provides financial support for outcome-based projects that are tools for change in communities and in community organizations. The HREMF's grant priorities are:

    • to remove organizational barriers that exclude groups protected under Alberta's human rights legislation, and

    • to increase community or organizational capacity to develop and sustain work in building welcoming communities and inclusive organizations

    When developing initiatives, organizations are encouraged to work with one of the HREMF consultants to develop projects that are viable and maximize the resources available. Please contact a consultant to discuss your ideas for fostering equality, reducing discrimination and encouraging full civic participation. The next deadline for receipt of Letters of Intent to apply for financial assistance is May 1, 2012.

    6. Welcoming and Inclusive Communities (WIC) update: The provincial network of Welcoming and Inclusive Communities (WIC) gathered in Edmonton in December 2011 for its second formal meeting. More than 70 participants representing more than 20 communities attended the event, "Come Together Alberta." This network allows communities to share best practices and lessons learned, develop common resources and gain support in the development and implementation of their action plans towards building welcoming and inclusive communities. Blair Mason, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, brought greetings to the event and spoke about the importance of WIC's work. Read more about the meeting. The WIC initiative is a partnership between the Commission and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA).  Read more about the WIC initiative.

    PLEASE NOTE: In the following sections of the newsletter, we publish news and information provided by other organizations. We also link to other websites related to human rights and diversity. The Commission provides this information as a service and is not responsible for the content provided by other organizations on their websites or by other means. Please direct comments or inquiries regarding these organizations or their websites to the organization in question.


    1. Significant dates:

    January 27 was International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Communities across the world gathered on January 27, 2012 to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

    March 8 is International Women's Day: Canada's theme for International Women's Day 2012 is Strong Women, Strong Canada - Women in Rural, Remote and Northern Communities: Key to Canada's Economic Prosperity. From the Status of Women Canada website: "In rural and remote areas, women make up approximately 45% of the labour force, but significant gaps still exist between women and men in labour force participation rates, employment rates and income. These trends are more pronounced for Aboriginal women, who make up a large part of the rural, remote and Northern population."

    On the occasion of International Women's Day, UNESCO will launch the World Atlas of Gender Equality in Education. From the UNESCO website: "The launch will provide the opportunity to present the World Atlas and raise key issues around the challenge of measuring progress towards gender equality in education." Read more.

    March 9 to 25 is Les Rendez-vous de la Francophonie: This national two-week celebration of French culture and history runs from March 9 to 25, 2012. Check out the website and read about national activities planned, including activities throughout the province, and the 2012 theme, Understanding builds a better future.

    March 21 is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed all around the world to focus attention on the problems of racism and the need to promote racial harmony. The United Nations designated this day in memory of anti-apartheid demonstrators killed in Sharpeville, South Africa in 1960. Albertans are invited to participate in events organized across the province. Read more about International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

    March 24th to April 1st is International Adult Learners' Week in Canada: From the Canadian Commission for UNESCO website: "The Week celebrates adult learners across the country and the joy of learning throughout life."  Literacy events will be taking places across the country and in Alberta to mark IALW. Check this website closer to the date to read about the planned events across Alberta, and read more about IALW. The Alberta Human Rights Commission offers posters titled Learning is a Human Right. The posters promote learning as central to building strong and vibrant communities that value human rights, diversity and inclusion. The posters include links to guide Albertans to information about the Commission's programs and services as well as the literacy and employment programs and services of the Government of Alberta.

    May is Asian Heritage Month: In December 2001, the Senate of Canada passed a motion officially designating May as Asian Heritage Month in Canada. You can read about the Official Declaration, and order or download a poster online

    See the list of significant days on the Help Make a Difference website.

    The Commission offers a flyer and poster called Celebrate All Year Round to remind Albertans of significant international, national and provincial days related to human rights and diversity. To order the flyer or poster, contact or call 403-297-8407. 

    Alberta news

    1. Hate Crime Awareness Day:
    The Alberta Hate Crimes Committee (AHCC) invites all Albertans to participate in the third annual Hate Crime Awareness Day on April 24, 2012, when communities, governments and police unite to send the message that hate crimes will not be tolerated. This year's theme is "Supporting Victims of Hate/Bias Crime and Activities." This event is part of National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, April 23 to 27, 2012. Workshops and events will be hosted in six centres across Alberta, including Calgary, Lethbridge, Brooks, Red Deer, Edmonton and Fort McMurray. Blair Mason, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, will be speaking at the Calgary event. Read more about the planned events. In addition, on April 24, 2012, the AHCC will officially release its latest document, Beyond Hate: A Resource Toolkit for Building a Community Response Plan to Counter HateRead more about Hate Crime Awareness Day.
    The AHCC was formed in 2002 to develop a province-wide framework to support a collaborative and integrated approach to prevent, enforce, and respond to hate and bias motivated activities in Alberta.  AHCC members include government and community sectors who work together to reduce the number of hate and bias crimes in Alberta. The Alberta Human Rights Commission is a member of this committee.

    2. May 1 is Yom ha-Shoah, Holocaust Memorial Day: Albertans are encouraged to remember the systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewish men, women and children during the Holocaust, as well as millions of others who have perished in acts of genocide. See Alberta's Holocaust Memorial Day and Genocide Remembrance Act. Teachers may be interested in the publication Guidelines for teaching about the Holocaust.

    3. Law Day celebrated in Alberta: During the month of April, The Canadian Bar Association, in cooperation and with funding from the Alberta Law Foundation and the Law Society of Alberta, will organize activities throughout the province to celebrate Law Day. From the Canadian Bar Association website: "Law Day provides an opportunity for Albertans to learn about their legal system and the role the law plays in their country. In the past the event has been very successful in all the centers participating with an enthusiastic audience taking part in these activities. All members of the public are welcome to attend the Open House at the Courthouse." The Alberta Human Rights Commission will be displaying banners, brochures, information sheets and other materials related to human rights and diversity at the Law Day events in Edmonton and Calgary. Read more about Law Day and the planned events throughout the province.

    Canadian news

    1. Update from the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies (CASHRA):

    2. Human rights education website: The Manitoba Human Rights Commission offers a new website, Class Action: a student's guide to Human Rights. From the website: "This site is designed to help students become involved with human rights and learn more about the Manitoba Human Rights Commission."

    International news

    1. United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training:
    The United Nations General Assembly adopted the
    United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training. Read the declaration. This landmark document recognizes every person's right to have access to human rights education.

    2. International Human Rights Day speech: On December 6, 2011, Hillary Rodham Clinton, United States Secretary of State,
    provided a powerful message regarding International Human Rights Day at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The speech focused on the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Read or listen to the speech.

    3. Report on human rights of gay and lesbian people: The United Nations (UN) Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights released the report Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. From the UN news release: "The first ever United Nations report on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people details how around the world people are killed or endure hate-motivated violence, torture, detention, criminalization and discrimination in jobs, health care and education because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity." Read the report


    1. Website to support skilled immigrants:
    The website offers support for the recruitment, retention and promotion of skilled immigrants. Various resources are offered on this website, including videos and webinars.

    2. Foreign qualifications website: The Government of Canada offers a website that showcases innovative foreign qualifications assessment and recognition practices. From the International Qualifications Network (IQN) website: "The IQN website was developed in response to partners' call for a tool to promote collaborating on information related to the assessment and recognition of international qualifications. The IQN website enables registered members to share information about their own initiatives, and provide feedback on others' initiatives."


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    Our vision is a vibrant and inclusive Alberta where the rich diversity of people is celebrated and respected, and where everyone has the opportunity to fully participate in society, free from discrimination.