Alberta Human Rights Information Service June 19, 2019

In this issue:
National Indigenous Peoples Day
Human rights case law: Tribunal decisions
Commission news

June 21st marks National Indigenous Peoples Day
National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day for all people to connect with one another and share in Indigenous culture, ceremony, and tradition. It is a time to come together and celebrate, but it is also a time to increase our understanding of Indigenous history and reflect on the issues facing Alberta’s Indigenous people today.
Taking action: On June 3, 2019, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its Reclaiming Power and Place: Final Report. The report calls on all Canadians to improve conditions for Indigenous women and girls. It states, “contemporary human rights protections can be helpful tools in making sure Indigenous rights are respected and upheld." This report identified 231 Calls for Justice, making recommendations in the areas of human rights, culture, health and wellness, security and justice. In response, the Commission is reviewing the report to identify ways in which it can respond to the Calls for Justice, including implementing organizational and systemic changes.

This also aligns with one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action, calling upon governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Indigenous Peoples. To date, Commission staff have attended workshops on Indigenous Peoples' history, culture, and contemporary issues, as well as training offered by the Government of Alberta. In addition, a Commission staff member and a Member of the Commission recently participated in the four-day Calgary Police Service's Aboriginal Justice Camp, which served as a transformative and comprehensive cultural experience introducing participants to Indigenous Peoples' history and traditional values, as well as current issues facing Alberta's Indigenous Peoples and communities participating or involved in the justice system.

What can you do?
On June 21st, Alberta’s First Nations and Métis communities will share their cultures and teachings at community events throughout the province. Participating in local events provides an opportunity for non-Indigenous people to experience and learn more about Indigenous culture and to connect with Indigenous people in their communities.

Visit the following websites to find events near you:

HUMAN RIGHTS CASE LAW: TRIBUNAL DECISIONS

1. Recent tribunal decisions
You can read all tribunal decisions free of charge on the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) website.

2. Summary of a recent tribunal decision:
Vautour v. Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, 2019 AHRC 17 (CanLII) (Alberta Human Rights Tribunal, May 16, 2019)
Complaint dismissed after complainant can not be found
The Director of the Human Rights Commission (the Director) referred a complaint to the Tribunal. The respondent, Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, informed the Tribunal that the complainant could not be contacted and applied for the complaint to be dismissed. Counsel to the Director consented to the request. The Tribunal requested that the Director make every reasonable effort to contact the complainant. The Director attempted to find the complainant, including sending emails, searching the internet for the complainant’s name and contacting the investigating officer. The Director was unable to find the complainant and conveyed this fact to the Tribunal. The Commission’s bylaws require that a complainant keep the Commission informed of their contact information. The Director and respondent submitted that the complainant’s involvement in the complaint was critical. For all of these reasons, the Tribunal Chair dismissed the complaint.

COMMISSION NEWS
1. Update on the Case Inventory Resolution Project:
The Commission launched the Case Inventory Resolution Project to deal with the case inventory more efficiently through streamlined processes. Following a competitive process, the Investigation Team and the Conciliation Team, overseen by a Project Lead, were formed.

The teams have made significant progress as they process files in an expedited manner. The Investigation Team has started investigating 37% of the files in their queue. The Conciliation Team, launched after the Investigation Team, has conciliation meetings scheduled for 14% of the files.

Both teams are using various forms of technology to enhance collaboration and efficiency, with the ultimate goal of encouraging the parties to reach a timely resolution of their issues.

You can read more about the Case Inventory Resolution Project.
2. The Chief of the Commission and Tribunals in the Community
Michael Gottheil, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission, presented at the following events:
  • Tribal Chiefs Ventures Inc. Conference: Michael Gottheil presented at the Innovative Collaboration for Diabetes Management and Prevention Conference hosted by the Tribal Chiefs Ventures Inc. on March 13, 2019 in Edmonton. Mr. Gottheil discussed the duty to accommodate disabilities in the workplace and outlined case law regarding accommodating diabetes in the workplace.

  • Municipal Inclusion Symposium: The Commission partnered with the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association to host a second Municipal Inclusion Symposium on March 18-19, 2019 in Calgary. Michael Gottheil provided opening remarks to the municipal administrators who came together to network, share, and learn about the initiatives that Alberta municipalities are implementing to create more inclusive organizations and communities. 

  • Not in Our Town: Michael Gottheil provided greetings to participants attending the screening of the film “Not in Our Town” in Calgary on March 18,& 2019 and in Fort McMurray on March 20, 2019. This film that tells the story of how a town came together after an incident of anti-immigrant violence. Participants discussed how to better address racism and discrimination in their communities.

  • Canadian Bar Association West Conference: On April 27, 2019, Michael Gottheil presented a session on enhancing access to justice through diversity within the legal profession at the Canadian Bar Association West Conference in Penticton, B.C.

  • Alberta Council of Disabilities Service Conference: Michael Gottheil offered the keynote address to participants attending the Alberta Council of Disabilities Service Conference on May 14, 2019 in Calgary. Mr. Gottheil discussed the importance of recognizing the rights of persons with cognitive disabilities.

  • Canadian Institute of Administrative Justice: On May 28, 2019, Michael Gottheil served as co-chair at the National Roundtable of Administrative Law hosted by the Canadian Institute of Administration Justice in Montreal, Quebec. The theme of the roundtable discussion was the independence of administrative tribunals.

  • Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals: Michael Gottheil served as a panel member at a workshop hosted by the Canadian Human Rights Commission and International Commission of Jurists Canada on May 28, 2019 in Montreal, Quebec. The panel explored the topic of the rise of populism and the rule of law.

3. Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund

Tree logo Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund 

Completed and ongoing grant projects
The Elizabeth Fry Society of Edmonton received a Human Rights Project Grant from the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund to develop a 56-page handbook describing human rights legislation in plain language for a diverse population of incarcerated women (including Indigenous and transgender women). From Human Rights in Action: A Handbook for Provincially Incarcerated Women in Alberta, it notes the handbook: "is a tool that is intended to ensure that those whose rights are interfered with have support in addressing discriminatory treatment, and are able to identity and address areas that require system advocacy and change." The Elizabeth Fry Society hosted workshops in the Edmonton area for approximately 300 incarcerated women, along with their family members and friends, where they learned about their rights as inmates and citizens.

The Town of Banff and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo received funding from a Community Inclusion Grant Program for Municipalities to collaborate and research best practices to address diversity, inclusion and equity for their local workforces. From their research, training curriculum was developed for employers and employees to support improved employee retention, productivity, financial returns and customer satisfaction. In addition, ongoing recognition programs were developed for the businesses that participate in inclusivity training and make positive change to create respectful workplaces. You can read the 2017 Bow Valley Workplace Inclusion Charter. For information on the Wood Buffalo Charter, email: diversity.woodbuffalo@rmwb.ca.

Human rights and multiculturalism scholarship
The 2018 scholarship recipients of the Alberta Award for the Study of Canadian Human Rights and Multiculturalism have been announced. This award encourages graduate studies that will create value for Albertans by promoting informed thinking about Canadian human rights, cultural diversity, and multiculturalism. The award was made possible through the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund. There are two awards - the Master's level award is $10,000 and the Doctoral level award is $15,000. The Master's level award honours Pardeep Gundara, one of Alberta's human rights champions. You can read more about the award.

2018 scholarship recipients:  
Paige Reeves, a University of Alberta PhD student, received the Alberta Award for the Study of Canadian Human Rights and Multiculturalism. Paige will use the scholarship to further research examining the community experiences of people with intellectual impairments from their perspectives, ensuring that people with disabilities have a say in the issues and solutions that affect their lives. This research will bring to light the barriers that exist that influence their sense of community belonging. The findings from this research could inform the creation of supports to help strengthen community belonging and advance the wellbeing and social inclusion of persons with intellectual impairments.

Erin Davis, a Master’s student from the University of Lethbridge, received the Pardeep Singh Gundara Memorial Scholarship for her research on patient-centred care for people living with dementia. This research will explore the systemic issues that impact patient care, including the barriers that staff encounter when providing care. It will identify structural supports that could be put into place to enable patient-centred care practices. Erin’s master’s research is intended to create culture change in care facilities and residential care homes to ensure improved practices for persons living with dementia.

You can read about past scholarship recipients.

4. New Director of Communication, Education and Engagement: In April 2019, Anne Clennett was chosen as the Commission’s new Director of Communication, Education and Engagement.

Anne has been serving as Acting Director, Education and Engagement, since December 2018 and brings years of experience to this position. Anne started working for the Commission in 2012 as Policy and Program Consultant, where her specialized skills and qualifications have served the Commission well. Over the years, Anne has established connections within the provincial, national and international human rights communities.

5. Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of Alberta Conference:
Commission staff met with participants who attended the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of Alberta (CPHR AB) Conference: HR Undefined, on April 10 & 11, 2019 in Edmonton. The Commission display includes educational resources and promotional materials related to human rights and diversity.

Image of Commission staff member staffing display that shows banners, information sheets.
Jessica Snow, Administrative Coordinator with Communication, Education & Engagement, Alberta Human Rights Commission, staffed the Commission display at the CPHR AB Conference.

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