Sunday, December 11, 2016

Because so few real human rights defenders exist I must speak about what it takes to be one. I have been fortunate to encounter two of them--Velvet Martin and Ruth Adria. They are doing the same work at the two ends of the human cycle. Velvet works for the children. And Ruth works for the elderly.

Besides knowing that there were others working to help the most vulnerable people in our society at the Awards Ceremony I had the comfort of a brief pause in the hard work of thinking about horror.

The reason more lawyers don't do what Mr. Lee does which is help the discards of our society is that it is not well paid work and it is hell on the psyche. Learning how undependable the GOA is and then learning how self serving most politicians and their coterie are it's a hard slog. Then to be disappointed by the other advocates in the society who have been given no powers worth mentioning then you see how the structure of the system is designed for defeat of citizen activism.

It's then compounded by the power of organized businesses and corporations to pound on activists with lawsuits. It's very difficult to speak without getting retribution of one sort or another.

This is why it is very important to remember that the people who speak and who continue to speak are the most tenacious of all the activists. They are working not for the glory or the changes that never come. They are working for the deep reasons of the soul--ethics, justice, love and kindness.

Such heroes and heroines are rarely found in government.  They are on the streets of our nation.

Because so few real human rights defenders exist I must speak about what it takes to be one. I have been fortunate to encounter two of them--Velvet Martin and Ruth Adria. They are doing the same work at the two ends of the human cycle. Velvet works for the children. And Ruth works for the elderly.

In between these two ends they are really working for one thing-which is the human rights of all of us.
When you see such great souls, it is hard to stay small yourself.
Even if you are not brave, you are able to stretch the paper of your own small soul and become a bit more brave.
You can attempt to speak.
You can fail.
You can speak again.
As the good Mdm.Marie-Claude Landry said today, we are all human rights defenders--but of course I believe we have to be chosen to be HRD.

As Mdm. Marie-Claude Landry said it --no one really gets up one day and says "I will be a HRD". You are chosen for the work. I believe this is true. No one in their right mind would do this horrific work. It is hard on the human beings who get up each day to face horror and speak of this horror. But it must be done. And we must help the heroes and heroines who speak because guess what? None of us are exempt from this hard work of the soul. We are all required to take part in the great work of our lives which is to include all of us in the human family. We are all ultimately in the same tribe of living beings.  And as Mdm. Marie-Claude Landry pointed out we are required to challenge the rhetoric of politicians which is out of line with the reality we all live.  Rhetoric is not reality and the reality in Alberta in the child welfare system is that the GOA is failing big time. Point this out folks and get the GOA to do the work of change. If not, let the system be taken down institution by institution. We --mummies and daddies and all other interested citizens are the change that is required when our politicians are tangled up in the webs of their rhetoric.

'More children are going to get hurt,' province warned on eve of review

Head of most recent child-in-care review says province needs to act rather than begin another study

Ann Sullivan · CBC NewsDecember 9, 2016
serenty
The death of four-year-old Serenty has sparked another review of Alberta's child intervention system. (supplied)
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The man who led Alberta's last task force on children who die in provincial care says more kids are going to get hurt while the government conducts yet another review of the children-in-care system.
"It's pretty frustrating to hear that this is the exact same process that the previous Conservative government went through about two years ago," said Tim Richter who chaired the Alberta Child Implementation Oversight Committee in 2014.
"It's really about implementing the recommendations that have been made.
Tim Richter
Tim Richter led the most recent review of the children-in-care system in Alberta. (CBC)
"I'm just frustrated with the delay. More children are going to get hurt before the government takes the action necessary to keep them safe."
On Thursday, Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir, amid calls for his resignation, gave more details about an all-party panel that will review the child intervention system.
The panel has short term and longer term deadlines to report back with recommendations on how to improve the system, culminating in a report to be tabled in the legislature by the minister in the spring.
It will be the seventh review involving childrens' services in eight years.
The last six covered foster care, kinship care and a review of investigations and reporting of deaths and serious injuries.

Preventing similar incidents

Sabir announced the panel in the legislature while answering questions from Wildrose Leader Brian Jean about Serenity, a four-year-old Indigenous girl who died in kinship care two years ago.
"The premier has asked me to establish a committee that will include members from across the aisle that will look into this issue and will make sure there are enough safeguards in place that we can prevent similar incidents from happening," Sabir said.
Serenity was emaciated and badly bruised when she died from a brain injury. Medical records documented injuries that suggested the young girl had been sexually assaulted.
She died in 2014.
That same year then Conservative Human Services Minister, Manmeet Bhullar, asked Richter, to lead the deaths-in-care committee.
It came up with dozens of recommendations. Richter said the NDP, who were then in opposition, felt the committee hadn't gone far enough.
"Now we've had a controversy erupt and the [NDP] minister, the government, seems to be kicking the can down the road," he said.
Richter says rather than another panel, the government should implement recommendations made in previous reviews.
"We don't need to be going over this ground again" he said. "It's highly unlikely that a new panel is going to come up with anything that a dozen previous panels, or reviews or sets of recommendations haven't already come up with."
Richter says the first change the province should make is to have the office of the medical examiner review the death of every child who dies in care.

Seven reviews in eight years


  • Ministerial Panel on Child Intervention 2016
  • Implementation Oversight Committee 2014
  • Ministerial Roundtable: Investigations and Reporting of Deaths and Serious Injuries  2014
  • External Expert Panel following death of a child 2011
  • Child Intervention System Review  2010
  • Kinship Care Review  2009
  • Foster Care Review 2008


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The Book Of Love - Martin Kerr (Cover) Live at the Citadel Theatre 





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Velvet Martin đŸ’ I was blessed to be a recipient a previous year.

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10TH ANNUAL HUMAN RIGHTS AWARDS: AN EVENT THAT RECOGNIZES LOCAL HUMAN RIGHTS HEROES

December 5, 2016
Edmonton, December 1, 2016 − The John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights invites the media to join them for their 10th Annual Human Rights Awards and the launch of Ignite Change 2017: A Global Gathering for Human Rights on December 11th, 2016, from 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM at the ATB Financial Arts Barn (10330 84 Ave NW).
Held in commemoration of International Human Rights Day, these awards are meant to recognize those in our community who are actively promoting, fulfilling, protecting or educating on human rights, and making our communities a place where all belong, are included and able to participate. Chief Commissioner Marie-Claude of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Mdm. Marie-Claude Landry, Ad.E. will be the event’s guest and keynote speaker.
Every year awards are given out to recipients, who are local human rights champions who are building Edmonton as a human rights city. This year however we will be awarding our first winner from outside of Edmonton in our efforts to recognize Albertans making an impact. This is followed by the Gerald L. Gall Award for an individual who has made an outstanding contribution and has demonstrated excellence in the protection and promotion of human rights in Canada.
RenĂ©e Laporte, a Human Rights Champion recipient in 2015, explains what the award means to her,  “When you are an advocate, you face stigma and discrimination. You feel the hate marginalized communities face, and that drives you to work harder to see them have their rights upheld.” She was recognised for her work of over a decade as an educational assistant, inclusion innovator and pioneer in fostering high risk young women.
This year’s awards recipients are
Robert P. Lee
              Gerald L. Gall Award 2016
Paula Kirman
              Human Rights Champion 2016
Ruth Adria
              Human Rights Champion 2016
Kristina De Guzman
              Human Rights Champion 2016
Roy Pogorzelski
              Human Rights Champion 2016
The John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights envisions a world that manifests a culture of peace and human rights in which the dignity of every person is respected, valued and celebrated.  We work to advance a culture of peace and human rights through educational programs and activities, community collaboration and relationship building guided by the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
For additional information, contact:
Tisha Raj
Project and Communications Coordinator
John Humphrey Centre for Peace & Human Rights
Contact: 780.235.2961 or tisha@jhcentre.org



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Our amazing human rights champions! Congratulations!!!




















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Music magic from Martin Kerr.
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