Post submitted by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Piero Narducci, Director General, Human Rights Promotion Branch
2017 marks the anniversaries of Canada’s foundational human rights legislation, with the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the 40th anniversary for the Canadian Human Rights Act.
On September 27th & 28th, the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) will host the Beyond Labels 2017 Human Rights Symposium, to celebrate our human rights achievements made thus far, and the challenges still to be addressed.
As we mark these anniversaries, it is time for Canada to look at how inclusive it really is as a country. In some ways, Canada is a far more diverse and inclusive society than ever. But, we still attach labels to ourselves and to others – based on gender, religion, sexual orientation, skin colour, etc. For some people, labels can be empowering and affirming. Yet, we still tend to focus on what divides us, rather than on what brings us together.
Labels can be a damaging way to exclude others. With various voices in our country reminding us that discrimination and intolerance and hatred continue to exist, maybe it is time for us to go beyond labels? That is the conversation we want to start. This Human Rights Symposium is the beginning of a dialogue in which everyone can play a part.
We will bring together people from all walks of life —especially those with lived experiences who can share their insights and challenges. Human rights defenders, decision-makers, employers, academics, legal professionals, NGOs, unions and youth from across the country will challenge our thinking, our behaviour and the labels we use for each other and ourselves, setting the foundation for the future of human rights, beyond labels.
Over the course of two days, the symposium will stimulate, engage and perhaps provoke participants to think beyond traditional ideas of human rights, and toward inclusiveness in its purest form — a world beyond labels.
The CHRC will also launch an improved website this autumn to coincide with the Symposium. The new website will be a resource for people who are looking for human rights information, or who want to submit a human rights complaint in the quickest, easiest way possible.