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Advancing Human Rights on a weekday night

Friday, October 26, 2007

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On Monday October 22nd, the CHROMA leadership program held a workshop entitled Advancing Human Rights: Fostering an Inclusive Community. Hosted by Mahejabeen Ebrahim, the Associate Director of the Human Rights and Equity Office (HREO) and Andrew Bresnahan, the Coordinator of the CSA Human Rights Office (HRO), the workshop utilized a human rights quiz alongside specific case studies in order to facilitate a discussion about the practice of human rights.

The quiz placed an emphasis on the stories behind human rights and the ongoing struggle to implement them. Mahejabeen Ebrahim stressed the fact that the establishment of human rights in Canada is a relatively recent occurrence, with many of the struggles taking place in the last couple decades. She also emphasized the ongoing development of inclusive language. For example, did you know that the United Nations declared Canada's use of the term "visible minorities" to be racist in March of this year?

Ebrahim described the case studies as a good opportunity to "put words and documents into action" in order to "live the practice of human rights." The case studies explored the ethics of responding to a human rights concern or abuse in day to day interpersonal interactions. Participants worked in groups, sharing their wisdom to tackle some pretty tricky questions.

Students, staff, and faculty at the University of Guelph should be proud to boast both a student-run Human Rights Office as well as a University-mandated Human Rights and Equity Office. Andrew Bresnahan asserted that the two offices were established after significant student pressure on the University administration; similarly, the codes and rights we have in place today will only come to live as the result of ongoing group and individual effort.

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