Independent Expert to Examine Police Street Check Data

Monday, September 18, 2017 - 11:23

Dr. Scot Wortley has been selected by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission as the independent expert to examine police street check data related to persons of African descent. (see full bio below).

In January 2017 police street check data from 2006 and 2016 was publicly released that indicated black people in Halifax were three times more likely to be stopped by police than white people.

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has since been in discussions with the police complaints commissioner, the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT), the Halifax Regional Police, and African Nova Scotian community advocates. “Obviously we’re concerned about allegations of racial profiling and discrimination in police street checks,” said Christine Hanson, director and CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. “We look forward to working closely with all parties to address any potential issues once Mr. Wortley has presented his findings.”

Earlier this year it was agreed by the Board of Police Commissioners and the community that the commission would hire an independent expert to look at the police street check data. The parties subsequently agreed with the selection of Mr. Wortley. “He is extremely knowledgeable and highly qualified with extensive research and evaluation experience related to criminal justice and race,” said Ms. Hanson.

Mr. Wortley has doctorate in sociology and been a professor at the Centre of Criminology at University of Toronto since 1996. He is a published author on issues surrounding race and crime, including street checks. He has also worked extensively with public sector institutions, including law enforcement, in Canada and the Caribbean. One of Mr. Wortley’s assignments has been working with the Government of Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate to develop standards and guidelines for the collection and dissemination of race-based data within the public sector. He has also designed and implemented national crime victimization surveys and provided related recommendations to the Government of Jamaica.

FULL BIO

BIOGRAPHY: SCOT WORTLEY, PHD

Dr. Scot Wortley has been a Professor at the Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto, since 1996. He holds a B.A., M.A and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto.

In 2001, he was appointed the Justice and Law Domain Leader at the Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement (CERIS).  In 2007, he was appointed by Metropolis to the position of National Priority Leader for research on Justice, Policing and Security.  Professor Wortley has also recently conducted research on youth violence as the Research Director for both the Toronto District School Board’s School Community Safety Advisory Panel (chaired by Julian Falconer) and the Ontario Government’s Roots of Youth Violence Inquiry (chaired by Roy McMurtry and Alvin Curling). 

From 2009 to 2012 Professor Wortley was the lead evaluator for Prevention Intervention Toronto (PIT) – a major gang prevention program funded by Public Safety Canada.  In 2017, Professor Wortley has been working with the Government of Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate to develop standards and guidelines for the collection and dissemination of race-based data within the public sector.  Finally, Professor Wortley designed and implemented the 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2016 Jamaican National Crime Victimization Surveys.  He also wrote reports for the Government of Jamaica based on these surveys – the first and most ambitious of their kind in the Caribbean region. 

Professor Wortley teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses including Introduction to Criminology, Introduction to the Canadian Criminal Justice System, Penology, Interpersonal Violence, Current Issues in International Criminology, and Youth, Culture and Crime

His recent research projects include: 1) An ongoing study that is investigating the extent and nature of street gangs in Toronto; 2) Four studies investigating the effectiveness of different youth crime and gang prevention programs in the Toronto area; 3) A project that is exploring the relationship between immigration and crime using both official police statistics and survey data; 4) A general population survey of Toronto residents that is examining racial differences in perceptions of and experiences with the Canadian criminal justice system; 5) A major survey of criminal offending and victimization among Toronto high school students and street youth; 6) Two studies that are examining the practice of “street checks” and police use of force in Ontario and British Columbia; 7) A study that is evaluating the meaning and use of firearms within Toronto’s most economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods; 8) A study that is examining the use of race-based statistics within Trinidad and Tobago’s criminal justice system; 9) a study that is evaluating cultural competency training programs for criminal justice practitioners; and 10) a study that is examining the impact of police interactions with minority youth and youth cooperation with police investigation, youth radicalization and youth offending.

Professor Wortley has made numerous presentations at international conferences and has given talks to officials at all levels of government.  He has also published chapters in a large number of edited volumes and academic journals including the American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Police and Society, Law and Society Review, British Journal of Sociology, Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, British Journal of Criminology, Criminal Justice, Canadian Journal of Ethnic Studies, Journal of International Migration and Integration, Sociological Perspectives and the Journal of Studies on Alcohol.  He also published an edited volume on Crime and Criminal Justice in the Caribbean with researchers from the University of the West Indies.

Professor Wortley has extensive experience with program evaluation.  Over the past decade, he has conducted ten major evaluation projects.  Individual projects include evaluations of the Toronto John School Diversion Program, Prevention Intervention Toronto (a multi-million dollar Toronto gang prevention program funded by Public Safety Canada), the Jane-Finch Positive Alternatives to Youth Gangs Program (operated by the San Romanoway Revitalization Association), the Cultural Competency Training Program for Justice Workers (operated by the African Canadian Legal Clinic) and the Youth Justice Education Program (African Canadian Legal Clinic).  Professor Wortley also produced a major report that reviewed the effectiveness of various youth crime prevention programs for the Ontario Government’s Roots of Youth Violence Inquiry.

 

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10th Anniversary United Nations’ Rights of Indigenous People: Indigenous Rights in Nova Scotia

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 - 12:33

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission works to protect and promote the rights of Nova Scotia’s Indigenous people. The Nova Scotia Human Rights Act provides protections for people if there is discrimination against them based on ethnic, national or aboriginal origin.

September 13, 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This comprehensive document addresses the human rights of Indigenous peoples globally, providing guiding principles for Nova Scotia, Canada and the world. It emphasizes the rights of Indigenous peoples to live in dignity, to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their self-determined development, in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.

The anniversary of the UNDRIP is a reminder that we can’t turn a blind eye to what has been done to Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq people. The Mi’kmaq are the first peoples of Nova Scotia, with a more than 13,000 year presence here.  Further, they remain the predominant Aboriginal group within the province. There are 33,845 people of Aboriginal identity in NS, of which 21,895 are First Nations people (Statistics Canada National Household Survey 2011). They are made up of thirteen bands governed by a Chief and Council.

With European settlement beginning in Nova Scotia in the 1600’s, these settlers robbed the Mi’kmaq of their land, culture, language and way of life. Many died of infectious diseases like smallpox inflicted by the settlers, and were killed through torture and deliberate genocide. Residential schools were intended to create cultural genocide–  seven generations of Indigenous youth were forced to assimilate their lives and in the most abusive ways. Even though this might seem like history to some, the impact remains present today and inequities exist in many facets of society. One only has to look at the wrongful conviction of Donald Marshall Jr. for murder,  the over representation of Indigenous people in the prison system, and the greater likelihood of Aboriginal women to be named among the  “ missing and murdered”. In Canada, many Aboriginal communities face poverty and poor living standards. In terms of discrimination, a 2013 Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission study showed that Aboriginal people reported experiencing Consumer Racial Profiling by retailers and service providers more often than other groups. Specifically, the report shows that they have been targets of offensive language and have  been treated as if they were physically threating or as potential thieves.

What can we do?

  • Address any unconscious biases and stereotypes toward Indigenous people and stand up against racism and discrimination
  • Help educate others about racism and discrimination faced by Nova Scotia’s indigenous groups, as well as the historic and current context. Make a commitment not to be discriminatory in employment, provisions of services etc. if you are in a position to do so.
  • Learn about Truth and Reconciliation, a process that acknowledges that Canada’s educational system has wrongly informed Canadians about Canada’s indigenous peoples’ for generations. It is intended to restore the balance of the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

If you are an indigenous person and you have questions about your rights under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act, you may contact a human rights officer. The Commission also has an Indigenous education officer who works with communities to provide information on human rights under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act and to educate around indigenous rights.  If you are not an indigenous person and wish to learn more, we also encourage you check out the links below.   

Additional Resources:

 

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Two Indigenous Nova Scotian Human Rights Commissioners to Attend United Nations Meeting

Friday, July 7, 2017 - 12:13

Two commissioners with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, Chief Andrea Paul and Cheryl Knockwood, will attend a United Nations meeting on the rights of Indigenous peoples in Geneva, Switzerland, from July 10-14.

“We want to publicly recognize the contribution that these two Indigenous women from Nova Scotia will make on the world stage,” said Christine Hanson, director and CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. “They will no doubt be instrumental in helping to bring attention to Indigenous rights not only in Nova Scotia, but throughout Canada.”

Organized by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the session, titled the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, is held annually to discuss how the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples can improve indigenous peoples’ lives. The year 2017 is the 10th anniversary of the declaration. 

Andrea Paul is the chief of Pictou Landing First Nation. She was first appointed to the commission in 2013 and was reappointed in 2016. She taught Mi’kmaw in the local community school and, prior to that, she was a student counselor and worked with both youth and adults in her community. 

Chief Andrea Paul


Cheryl Knockwood was appointed to the commission in 2015. She is a lawyer and currently works for the Membertou First Nation as its governance coordinator. She has also taught aboriginal and treaty rights at Cape Breton University. 

Cheryl Knockwood

For more information on the 10th session, please visit:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/EMRIP/Pages/Session10.aspx.

 

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Youth Art on Human Rights Appearing in Halifax Transit Buses in July 2017

Friday, June 30, 2017 - 15:46

If you’re riding a Halifax Transit bus in July 2017, take a look up. The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, in cooperation with Partners for Human Rights, is pleased to share the work of four young artists on the interior bus signs. This initiative, launched to coincide with the Commission’s 50th Anniversary, aims to help raise awareness of important human rights issues in Nova Scotia. Youth across the province submitted artwork that represents what human rights mean to them.

 

The Commission will also continue to feature young artists throughout 2017, including through exhibits in communities across Nova Scotia and at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport this Fall. More information on the Commission's 50th anniversary and related events can be found here. See an exhibit coming to your community? Contact us (HRCInquirie@novascotia.ca) if you are aged 12 to 24 and want to submit a piece of artwork according to the guidelines of this initiative.

 

The four pieces in Halifax Transit bus interiors are:

 

Jillian Connors, Age 21, Truro, Nova Scotia

“We are all human regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, etc. and should be treated as such.”

 

LACEY BROWN, AGE 13, Grande-Pre, Nova Scotia

“We are all equal no matter what our colour, religion or gender are.”


 

MANANI JONES-LAMONT, AGE 16, Halifax, Nova Scotia

“This piece is about the human rights of women around the world. I am an African Nova Scotian young woman and I believe in advocating for all women.”

 

TRINITY DEJONG, AGE 13, Brookside, Nova Scotia

“This piece is about being transgender and hiding that you are.”
No one should have to hide who they are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1967-2017 - 50th Anniversary of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission

Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 11:03

The Nova Scotia Human Commission was established in 1967 due to the racism faced by African Nova Scotians. Over the last 50 years, the Commission has assisted Nova Scotians facing discrimination and promoted respect for human rights and inclusivity in our province. We’ve seen evolutions in human rights law responding to the needs of our population. In our effort to advance human rights, we’ve protected family status and recognized the rights of same-sex couples. We’ve added sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to our protections. We developed a policy for breastfeeding mothers. We’ve helped women and girls play sports. We have helped employees and employers alike address the needs of persons with mental and physical disabilities in the workplace. We continue to address complex human rights cases, including those involving systemic racial discrimination working in cooperation with partners in the justice system.  These are just some examples and there are many more.

Anniversaries are time for reflection and renewal.

We recognize there is much to do. We continue to work to advance equity and dignity, foster positive and respectful relationships, and actively protect and promote the human rights of all Nova Scotians. As the Commission continues its work, we are making important investments in technology, such as those to develop elearning tools to address and prevent discrimination. For all Nova Scotians to prosper and flourish, an effort to promote respect for human rights and diversity is needed across all sectors and communities in our province. We are here to provide advice and guidance to all -- education and outreach continue to be a central part of our efforts.

Please stay tuned with us throughout the year as we recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of Nova Scotians promoting human rights and as we reflect on how far we have come.

Check back for more information on our 50th Anniversary events:

  • 50th Anniversary Youth Art Exhibition at the Margaret Hennigar Library – July 2017
  • Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission at Halifax Pride (Parade July 22, 2017)
  • 50th Anniversary Youth Art Exhibition - Wolfville Farmers' Market – August 5-September 9, 2017
  • 50th Anniversary Youth Art Exhibition - Halifax Stanfield International Airport (Fall 2017)
  • 50th Anniversary Youth Art Exhibit - Truro Library – September 15-29, 2017
  • 10th Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People – September 13, 2017 
  • Celebrations for International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2017 (location TBD)

Interesting in partnering with us on an event? Contact us at HRCInquiries@novascotia.ca

 

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Yuille v. the Nova Scotia Health Authority, Board of Inquiry Decision

Friday, April 7, 2017 - 14:48

 

 

An independent human rights board of inquiry has ruled that the Nova Scotia Health Authority discriminated against Melanie Yuille when it revoked her conditional job offer to work as a registered nurse at the Dartmouth General Hospital.

 

Read the news release: here

Read the decision: here.

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New Education Campaign Helps Business Address Consumer Racial Profiling

Monday, March 27, 2017 - 16:47

 

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has launched a free online course to help businesses address and prevent consumer racial profiling.

 

The course, Serving All  Customers Better, is expected to train thousands of front-line service staff in Nova Scotia.

 

 "This new free training, the first of its kind in Canada, is a definite win-win for businesses and their customers by helping  promote inclusive and welcoming environments," said Christine Hanson, director and CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. "We're thrilled by the overwhelming support of Nova Scotia's business community, who partnered with us to create this course."

 

 Serving All Customers Better was officially launched on March 27, at an event at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.

 

"Retailers appreciate the steps the commission took to collaborate with the Retail Council of Canada in developing the course, which will complement their existing training," said Jim Cormier, Atlantic Director for Retail Council of Canada. "We're confident this course will give retail employees and other service industry staff a better understanding of the shopping experiences of all Nova Scotians."

 

Consumer racial profiling is a serious issue in Nova Scotia. Visible minority customers are significantly more likely to be followed, searched and ignored than non-minority customers. Under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act, it is illegal to deny someone service or discriminate against them by treating them differently because of their race, colour or ethnicity.

 

"The Halifax Chamber of Commerce is excited to share this announcement with our members and the business community at large," says Patrick Sullivan, president and CEO of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. "We encourage our members to use this software and consider how they can integrate it into their ongoing skills development for their workforce. The more information we have on how to be a more welcoming business community, the better it is for us all."

 

You can learn more about Serving All Customers Better by visiting www.servingall.ca.

 

 

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Youth Art Competition - 50th Anniversary of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 12:56

 

The year 2017 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. To celebrate the protection and promotion of human rights in the province, the Commission, in collaboration with Partners for Human Rights, is inviting Nova Scotia youth ages 12-24 to submit their original works of art for exhibition and display in Nova Scotia. We call on educators, youth leaders and parents to work with youth to help them make submissions.

Deadline: Extended to MAY 31, 2017

Download the contest guidelines and consent forms, and find out how to make a submission here.

Téléchargez les lignes directrices et les formulaires et découvrez comment présenter une soumission en cliquant ici.

Theme: Human Rights for all Nova Scotians

Top works will be featured:

  • On Halifax Transit bus interior signage – July 2017
  • At the Halifax Stanfield International Airport – Fall 2017
  • In an exhibit at the Halifax Central Library (May 2017) and other locations across the province (dates and locations to be announced).
  • On social media channels, including the Nova Scotia Human Right's Commission's Facebook page, Twitter, etc.
  • On printed posters (for select submissions).

Questions? Email: HRCEducation@novascotia.ca

 

 

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