Building discrimination-free, welcoming and inclusive communities in Alberta
On June 1, 2007, in Calgary, Alberta, 13 municipalities from across Canada, five of which were from Alberta, formed the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination (CCMARD) and signed a declaration against racism and discrimination. CCMARD is a UNESCO-led initiative that calls on Canadian municipalities to be part of a larger international coalition of cities and towns committed to combating racism and discrimination and foster equality and respect for all.
Municipal governments, along with provincial and federal governments, local and national organizations, and individuals, all share responsibility and play an important role in this work. In Alberta, the Alberta Human Rights Commission is a champion of CCMARD and engages communities throughout the province in their efforts to implement initiatives aimed at creating welcoming and inclusive communities, free from racism and discrimination. These communities are also supported by Welcoming and Inclusive Communities (WIC), a partnership between the Commission and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, which provides information, resources, tools, learning opportunities and other support to CCMARD communities and their initiatives.
Currently there are 13 member municipalities in Alberta, the second highest of all provinces and territories in Canada, with the Town of Devon most recently signing on in February 2012. These Alberta communities are actively engaged in efforts to build respectful, inclusive and safe communities where everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in the economic, social, cultural, recreational and political life of their community. An example of one such community is the City of Lethbridge, where a team of government, nonprofit and business leaders is actively working together to make positive, forward changes within their community.
The Lethbridge Network of CCMARD has successfully changed policy within the City of Lethbridge, which has now adopted the Building Bridges….Finding Common Ground: A Welcoming and Inclusive Community Action Plan 2011-2021.
This plan provides a ten-year strategy focused on building a welcoming and inclusive Lethbridge, combating racism and all forms of discrimination, and championing equity and respect for all people. They have also hosted two Discover Diversity conferences, the most recent being held in February 2012, as well as a variety of other community events, including a Peace Day celebration in September aimed at celebrating diversity and promoting peace.
The Commission has supported and actively participated in these events, including attendance at events by the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals and other Commission staff. Lethbridge, as well as Alberta's other CCMARD municipalities, are making great strides in helping to create welcoming communities and build a culture of peace in our communities, province and country.
Duty to Accommodate Mental and Physical Disabilities forum – January 30, 2013
Duty to accommodate remains an important issue for employers and service providers in Alberta. In a discussion between the Alberta Human Rights Commission, the Human Resources Institute of Alberta and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, representatives identified the need for employers to have an opportunity to meet to learn more about the issue, examine its implications within their own workplaces, and share best practices.
Through this unique partnership, these organizations will offer a forum on January 30, 2013, where employers can dialogue about the duty to accommodate physical and mental disabilities, the challenges faced by organizations and potential solutions.
Keynote speaker, Janice Ashcroft, Senior Legal Counsel, Office of the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals for the Alberta Human Rights Commission, will provide an overview of theduty to accommodate, including rights and responsibilities during all stages of the accommodation process. Participants will discuss common scenarios that many companies face and develop an understanding of how to accommodate physical and mental disabilities in their workplaces.
This unique forum will be an opportunity for dialogue and exchange. It is designed for human resource managers, operations managers, supervisors, business owners and anyone with a general interest in the topic. For more information or to register, contact Sherri Clark at 780-427-4533 or go to www.albertahumanrights.ab.ca.
Release of the 2011-2012 Annual Report
The Commission released its 2011-2012 Annual Report, which highlights results achieved in the three areas of activity undertaken by the Commission: education and engagement, complaint settlement and resolution, and complaint adjudication.
It also includes information about the legislative framework for the Commission, the legislative framework for the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund, biographies of the Members of the Commission, and listings of tribunal decisions made in 2011-12 and of judicial reviews of decisions made by the Chief of the Commission and Tribunals.
Human Rights in the Workplace workshops – winter 2013 schedule
The Alberta Human Rights Commission offers public and customized workshops to organizations in Alberta. Workshops provide participants with an overview of Alberta's human rights legislation, information on the duty to accommodate and strategies for preventing harassment. Full-day public workshops are held in various regions in Alberta and provide an overview of how to create respectful, inclusive workplaces. Customized workshops comprise the majority of the workshops provided by the Commission and are presented at the request of organizations, tailored to meet their needs.
With about 80% of the human rights complaints originating in the workplace, the workshop program is one of the Commission's most sought-after programs. Intended for managers, supervisors, team leaders, human resource professionals, union leaders and small business owners, the workshops help organizations and businesses develop strategies in promoting respect and inclusion for all.
The winter 2013 public workshop dates are now available. Workshops are planned for Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge, with additional workshops to be arranged for Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray. For the complete workshop schedule, visit the education and information services section of the Alberta Human Rights Commission website.
Alberta Hate Crimes Committee – Community Resource Toolkit
On April 24, 2012 Alberta communities were asked to proclaim the day as Hate Crimes Awareness Day as part of National Victim’s Awareness Week (April 23-27, 2012). This year’s theme was “Support Victims of Hate Crime.” A number of events were planned throughout Alberta communities, including Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Calgary, Brooks, Lethbridge and Red Deer. The Commission encouraged municipalities to participate in this event, advertized events through the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) and CCMARD communities, and helped organize events in Calgary and Edmonton, where Commissioners brought greetings and staff supported education and engagement activities.
Funded through the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund (HREMF), the Alberta Hate Crime Committee (AHCC) developed a new Community Resource Toolkit that was unveiled at individual events. The toolkit is designed to help communities address hate as it arises within their communities. It offers suggestions on how communities can respond to hate and develop strategies to address issues and enable community action.
To learn more about this initiative or download a copy, visit AHCC’s website.
Honouring the memory of Pardeep Gundara, a champion of human rights in Alberta
In tribute to one of Alberta's human rights champions, the master's level Alberta Award for the Study of Canadian Human Rights and Multiculturalism has been named the Pardeep Singh Gundara Memorial Scholarship after Pardeep Gundara, former Director of the Southern Regional Office of the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Pardeep was the embodiment of compassion, care and respect. Sadly, he passed away in October 2011, leaving a legacy of commitment and dedication to human rights in Alberta. Read more about Pardeep and the impact he made in the area of human rights.
The Alberta Award for the Study of Canadian Human Rights and Multiculturalism was established in recognition of Alberta's centennial and the contributions and experiences of our diverse population.
Funded through an endowment by the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund (HREMF) and administered jointly by the Alberta Human Rights Commission and Alberta Advanced Education and Technology, the intent of the scholarship is to encourage graduate studies that will create value for Albertans by promoting informed thinking about human rights, cultural diversity and multiculturalism. It is also intended to support the pursuit of studies in Canadian human rights, cultural diversity and multiculturalism, and build capacity to undertake human rights or multicultural work in Canada.
Graduate students attending an Alberta public post-secondary institution whose studies will contribute to the advancement of human rights and multiculturalism are encouraged to apply. Read more and learn how to apply for the award. The application deadline is February 1st of each year.