Chief's messages

Message from Kathryn Oviatt, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission

On June 21 of each year, we recognize and celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Alberta is home to 45 First Nations and 140 reserves on the lands of Treaties 6, 7, and 8. It is also home to eight Métis Settlements, the six Regions of the Métis Nation of Alberta, non-status First Nations people, and the Inuit. National Indigenous Peoples Day allows us to recognize and appreciate the diverse cultures, languages, traditions, and histories of the First Nations, Inuit, and Mé​tis, and their connections to the land here. By doing so, we strengthen our commitment to reconciliation and foster a more inclusive and equitable society.

Indigenous cultures have played a vital role in shaping our province. Their vibrant art, music, dance, storytelling, ways of knowing, and ceremonies have enriched our culture and collective understanding, inspiring generations.

The Alberta Human Rights Commission supports initiatives that promote reconciliation, truth, and healing. We recognize the importance of land acknowledgements, ceremony, Indigenous language revitalization, restorative justice practices, and equitable access to education, healthcare, social services, and justice.

We invite everyone to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day by participating in virtual or in-person events organized by local Indigenous communities. These events, such as powwows, cultural festivals, art exhibitions, and storytelling sessions, offer a glimpse into the rich traditions and wisdom passed down through countless generations.


Message from Kathryn Oviatt, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission

Each year on March 21, the Commission observes the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day has been recognized globally for almost sixty years. Discrimination based on race or ethnicity is a violation of fundamental human rights that undermines our shared values of equality, justice, and respect for diversity.

The day was developed in 1966 to mourn and call to action anti-racist efforts following the 1960 police killings of 69 peaceful protesters in Sharpeville, South Africa, including 10 children. One hundred and eighty people were injured, and many were paralyzed while protesting racist apartheid laws. It was a shocking and despicable incident of racial hatred that sparked global outrage and a collective response to stand against such actions

Despite this history and multi-decade fight against racism, the scourge of racism continues today, including here in Alberta. This racism includes racial profiling of people of colour, Islamophobia, anti-Semitic hate, and much more. Communities, individuals, and stakeholder groups from all racialized communities continue to report to the Commission that they regularly experience everything from subtle micro-aggressions to physical violence. We unequivocally stand with them in condemning racism in all its forms.

Alberta's population continues to grow at higher rates than anywhere else in Canada. Projections anticipate that in the next 25 years, approximately 55 per cent​ of our population growth will come from international migration and with it, an increasingly diverse community. Increased diversity is entirely a good thing, bringing new ideas and approaches to complex problems that enrich us all. It is critical that increased equality comes along with increased diversity.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a day to reflect and acknowledge past and present wrongs, but it is also a day for hope and action. We celebrate our diversity and recognize the significant achievements of Black, Indigenous, and racialized people in our community. We also recognize the contribution of individuals and organizations that stand up against racial discrimination. Eliminating racial discrimination will have economic and social benefits for generations to come, and we call upon all Albertans to stand united in the fight against racism.

Message from Kathryn Oviatt, Chief of the Commission and Tribunals, Alberta Human Rights Commission

Hate-motivated incidents against transgender people have been on the rise in Alberta. These incidents have sadly involved escalating intimidation and harassment of the 2SLGBTQI+ community in both public and private spaces.

Diversity in Alberta should be celebrated, not attacked. The Commission would like to extend our solidarity to all members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community, and to the transgender community in particular. This pervasive and persistent hate is not acceptable and should not be tolerated in Alberta.

We uphold the principles of equality and justice for all, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other protected characteristic in the Alberta Human Rights Act. We condemn all forms of violence or intimidation in the strongest terms.

According to the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee’s January 2023 report​, which tracked hate incidents reported to them from February 2017 through December 2022, 10 per cent of hate incidents targeted the LGBTQ+ community. This is in spite of the fact that LGBTQ2+ people only account for 4 per cent of Canada’s total population aged 15 and older in 2018, according to Statistics Canada’s 2021 data.

Sadly, these numbers are not unusual. According to the Government of Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan Survey, 39 per cent of people who identify as 2SLGBTQI+ reported experiencing violence or discrimination directed at their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression in the last five years.

Hate has serious consequences for already marginalized groups and can create a culture of fear for other minority populations across the province. We must all work to protect and nurture diversity in our communities.

Bias, prejudice, and hate have no place in our society. All Albertans have a right to feel safe, welcome, and free from discrimination and harassment. We must not let the voices of intolerance drown out the voices of equality and acceptance. We must work together to protect the rights of all people, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized, and create a world where everyone can live their lives to the fullest, free from discrimination and prejudice.

The Commission stands with the 2SLGBTQI+ community and would like to send a clear message that hate and harassment have no place in Alberta. We will continue to work to combat transphobia, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination and hate.