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Alberta Human Rights Information Service June 21, 2017

In this issue:
National Aboriginal Day

Human rights tribunal decisions
Commission news
Other human rights and diversity news
Publications and resources

On June 21st, we commemorate National Aboriginal Day

On June 21st we commemorate National Aboriginal Day, a day to celebrate with Alberta’s Indigenous Peoples and share their cultures, ceremonies and traditions. This important day gives all Albertans the opportunity to participate in events to learn more about Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, and to better understand history and recognize the many contributions Indigenous Peoples have made.

This year Canada marks 150 years since Confederation. This year commemorates a century and a half since the signing of the Constitution Act, originally enacted as The British North America Act, 1867, which established Canada as a nation. However, Canada’s history goes back far longer than 150 years. Indigenous Peoples occupied North America for thousands of years before Europeans settled the land. There has been a long history of relations between our first peoples and settlers, including trade, peaceful relations and comradery, and also a history that includes power struggles and conflicts over resources and territories.

You can read a Message from Mr. Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission. You can view Mr. Philp's video message.

For more information about National Aboriginal Day and events taking place in communities throughout Alberta, visit the following websites:

National Aboriginal Day Events - Alberta
Alberta Indigenous Relations
Aboriginal Day Live
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada


The Commission recently released the following tribunal decisions:

  • Kara-Lindsay Martin v. Sphere Environmental Ltd. (June 14, 2017; Melissa L. Luhtanen, Tribunal Chair)
  • Renee Mandziak v. Taste of Tuscany and Medhat Salem (Decision on Remedy; May 17, 2017; Kathryn Oviatt, Tribunal Chair)
  • Jennifer Sylvan v. A.B.W. Management Ltd. o/a South Calgary Oral and Maxilliofacial Surgery (SCOMS) (Procedural Matters Decision; April 18, 2017; D. Jean Munn, Q.C., Tribunal Chair)

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

1. Commission revised two information sheets regarding protected areas and grounds:
The following information sheets regarding protected areas and grounds have been revised:

•Protected areas and grounds under the Alberta Human Rights Act
•Areas and grounds protected (chart)

These information sheets have been revised to include the protected grounds of gender identity and gender expression as expressly prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Alberta Human Rights Act. As well, some of the descriptions of protected grounds have been updated to match the descriptions in the Commission’s recently revised Human rights complaint form and guideThe human rights complaint process: A guide for complainants, and The human rights complaint process: A guide for respondents.

2. Upcoming forum: Understanding Gender Identity and Gender Expression in Employment and Services:
The Commission, together with the City of Red Deer and the Central Alberta Pride Society, is offering this forum.
Red Deer
Date: August 17, 2017
Time: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Location: Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery, 4525-47A Avenue, Red Deer
Fee: $50.00 plus GST, totaling $52.50. Breakfast will be included.

Read more
about the August 17, 2017 forum and register online.

3. E-learning Centre: What’s new?
Are you an Alberta business or organization who wants to learn more about Alberta’s human rights legislation and the process to make or respond to a human rights complaint? If so, the Commission has a short webcast that provides an overview of the Alberta Human Rights Act, as well as a new two-part webinar series on understanding the Alberta Human Rights Commission’s complaint process. These webcasts are free for on-demand viewing with registration:

You can view other webcasts and playlists available on the Commission's E-learning page.

4. Celebrating 45 Years:
2017 marks the 45th anniversary of the introduction of the Individual’s Rights Protection Act and the Alberta Bill of Rights, which formed the basis of the Alberta Human Rights Act, and enabled the establishment of the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

In recognition of this important anniversary, the Commission hosted conversations in five communities across Alberta. These conversations provided the opportunity for human rights organizations to come together to discuss current human rights issues, opportunities to increase diversity and inclusion in their communities, and ways to reduce the barriers that marginalized groups continue to face. It was also an opportunity for the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals to recognize the important advances in human rights, diversity and inclusion that have occurred in Alberta since 1972 and to thank attendees for their tireless efforts.

5. Recently completed projects funded in part by a grant from the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund:

  • On May 25, 2017, the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre presented a workshop in Lethbridge on the legal duty of employers to accommodate the human rights of their employees. The workshop is part of a pilot project funded by the Fund to develop and test human rights resources tailored for small and mid-size employers in Alberta. The project will continue until the spring of 2018. For more information or to schedule a workshop, contact

  • Alberta Restorative Justice Association recently completed collaborative work with organizations serving Indigenous and diverse communities. Grant funding was allocated to 10 organizations for a range of micro-projects that included presenting restorative justice practices through healing circles, mentorship for youth in extrajudicial sanction agreement processes, and restorative justice practices for domestic abuse prevention in ethno-racial groups. Organizations indicated a need for diversity training relevant to Alberta and restorative justice. You can read Lessons from the Inclusive Restorative Practice Program and contact for more information.

  • Alberta Hate Crimes Committee has increased its outreach to youth by training police school resource officers in “Hate Hurts” curriculum for school presentations. The curriculum is part of a larger initiative to build awareness and understanding of hate crime, as well as how to respond. The website has been created to allow Albertans to report hate incidents. Albertans are invited to tweet their thoughts, experiences and ideas about hate in Alberta at #StopHateAB.

6. The Commission in the community: 

  • On June 8, 2017, Robert Philp, Queen's Counsel, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, moderated an evening plenary at the 35th Lancaster House Labour Arbitration and Policy Conference in Calgary, "Brave New Grounds: Should social condition, genetic characteristics, weight and political belief be added to human rights legislation as grounds of discrimination?" Mr. Philp stated, "Just because it may be difficult to interpret these new grounds, it is no reason for them not to be included in human rights legislation."

  • On May 17, 2017, Robert Philp offered opening remarks at the Building Empathy, Conquering Apathy symposium at MacEwan University in Edmonton. The symposium, sponsored by Canadians for a Civil Society, was launched on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. This is the second event in a three-year plan to prevent and raise awareness of human rights violations including gender-based violence, discrimination, harassment and bullying at the intersections of gender identity, race, sexual orientation and poverty. The Chief’s remarks focused on the importance of living human rights as part of everyday life.

7. Commission staff received Merit Awards:

  • Individual Accomplishment Merit Award: Jim Foster, legal counsel to the Director, Alberta Human Rights Commission - South, was nominated for and was awarded an Individual Accomplishment Merit Award by the Government of Alberta. Jim Foster was presented the award that recognizes individual achievement for his demonstration of professionalism, innovation and creativity in the delivery of legal services at the Commission and in his handling of complaints that come before tribunals and the courts that attract high public interest.

  • Team Merit Award: Sushila Samy, Anne Clennett, Carolyn Ormsbee, and Jane Maze, all from the Education and Engagement area of the Commission, as well as Dr. Afroza Nanji, a contracted consultant, were awarded a Team Merit Award by the Government of Alberta. The team was recognized for their commitment to excellence in producing high-quality webinars to help Albertans and organizations create respectful, harassment-free workplaces. You can view the Understanding and Preventing Harassment in the Workplace webinars on the Commission's E-learning page.

Sushila Samy, Diversity Specialist; Carolyn Ormsbee, Grant and Program Administrator; Anne Clennett, Policy and Program Consultant; and Jane Maze, Administrative Coordinator; all from the Education and Engagement Unit of the Commission, were awarded a Team Merit Award by the Government of Alberta.

8. Strathcona County joins Canadian Coalition of Municipalities against Racism and Discrimination (CCMARD): Strathcona County has recently joined the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination (CCMARD). The County becomes the 17th municipality in Alberta to join CCMARD. You can read the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) news release.

The Commission was involved in founding CCMARD, has worked in partnership with the AUMA on the Welcoming and Inclusive Communities initiative and CCMARD initiatives, and provides funding support through the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund to municipalities to support their initiatives to build inclusive communities. The 17 municipalities in Alberta that have made commitments to CCMARD are part of a network of 71 municipalities across Canada, and over 500 worldwide that have committed to take action against racism and discrimination and become more inclusive.


1. Myths and facts related to refugees: Refugee Alberta, a project of the Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies, offers Myth v. Fact, a list of myths and facts related to refugees.

 2. Guide to accommodating substance dependence at work: The Canadian Human Rights Commission offers the resource Impaired at Work: a guide to accommodating substance dependence.


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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.