National Supported Employment Conference: June 19-21, 2018 (Halifax)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - 15:32

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission is pleased to support the Canadian Association for Supported Employment (CASE) national conference at the Halifax Convention Centre from June 19-21, 2018. The conference provides an opportunity for organizations to learn more about the business case for employing persons with disabilities and how to best support them. Participants will have the opportunity to network with community-based service providers, educators, resources from across Canada, and over 100 employers of like-minded businesses. CASE 2018 also includes events like the Lieutenant Governor’s Diversity and Inclusion Award and the Entrepreneurs’ with Disabilities Annual Awards, the “Hali CASE CHASE”, and the Entrepreneur Marketplace. The Commission's Manager of Race Relations, Equity and Inclusion, Késa Munroe-Anderson will deliver a workshop the afternoon of June 20: 

Working Together Better: Inclusion Across the Intersections

Késa Munroe-Anderson

This interactive workshop will provide participants with knowledge on inclusive workplace principles and how building an inclusive organizational culture that welcomes persons with disabilities from diverse backgrounds is critical to their organization’s success.  Participants will learn about the difference between equity and equality, about the Employment Equity Act and how implementing employment equity can help close the gap of employment disparities that exist for persons with disabilities as well as tap into a largely untapped rich resource of skilled prospective employees.   

Participants will learn about historic barriers facing persons in the four employment equity groups – Aboriginals, Visible Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities – as well as other disadvantaged groups including persons in the LGBTQ+ and recent immigrant communities.  We will discuss barriers posed by the intersectional identities of persons with disabilities and how these barriers impact on their employment. Finally, we will explore various best practices that employers and senior leaders within organizations can implement to successfully and proactively recruit, hire and retain persons with disabilities from diverse backgrounds. 

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn more about inclusive and supportive employment! Please visit the conference website for more information and to register.

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CASHRA 2018 - June 26-27, Whitehorse, Yukon

Thursday, April 26, 2018 - 13:52

CASHRA 2018, The Time is Now: Change and Innovation in Human Rights Today, June 26-27, Whitehorse, Yukon.

This year’s conference from the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies (CASHRA) takes you to the unforgettable setting of Canada’s North. Learn from leaders in human rights in Canada, build your network, and take in unique northern experiences - all while under the legendary Midnight Sun.

The conference, featuring various panels, sessions, workshops, and social events offering a taste of Yukon, will create a forum for information sharing about new ideas in the field of human rights in Canada. We respectfully acknowledge that this year’s conference will be held within the traditional territory of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council.

Who should attend?

For decades, CASHRA’s annual conference has offered an extraordinary learning and networking opportunity for people working closely on human rights issues in Canada. Specifically focused on the work and role of Commissions, this conference is a unique opportunity to engage deeply on the mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights. If you work for a human rights organization, are a professional in the field, work at a non-proft or NGO, or if you’re a student or an activist, this conference is a place for you to grow, learn, connect, and share.

For more information

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Public Lecture With Tim Wise - Towards Racial Equity: Becoming an Effective Ally

Monday, March 12, 2018 - 11:24

On March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs and the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission are pleased to present Tim Wise, one of the most prominent anti-racist writers and educators in the United States. Tim Wise has been addressing audiences across the U.S. for 25 years. He has been named one of Utne Reader’s “25 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World”,

Wise has contributed chapters or essays to over 25 books and his writings are taught in academic institutions across the nation. He is the host of a new podcast, Speak Out with Time Wise. Visit Speak Out  to learn more about Tim's work.

If you missed the lecture, you can still watch it on YouTube.


Date: March 21, 2018

Time: 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Lecture and reception to follow.

Location: Seton Hall, Auditorium A, Mount Saint Vincent University

Please RSVP on or before March 15 at:



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Resources to Help Nova Scotia Employers Address Sexual Harassment

Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 13:59

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission is introducing new online resources to help employers address and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

“It’s important that we do all we can to prevent incidents of sexual harassment from happening and that we adequately address them when they do happen,” said Mark Furey, Minister of Justice and Minister responsible for the Human Rights Commission. “These resources will support organizations in their efforts to create welcoming and safe workplaces for their employees and provide employers with the tools they need to contribute to a respectful workplace free of sexual harassment.”

The commission has recently seen a significant rise in the number of calls concerning sexual harassment, including from employers asking for advice and training. Through the Safe Spaces Make Great Workplaces campaign, the commission is providing a free online course for employers and their employees, along with a template for a sexual harassment policy which can be adapted by organizations.

"Addressing and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace starts with employers having a clear sexual harassment policy, educating staff and enforcing the policy," said Christine Hanson, commission CEO. “Today, with the full support of the business community, thousands of employers across the province are receiving information about these free resources offered by the commission.”

Forty-three per cent of women in Canada say they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment at work is illegal under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. "While the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace is not new, growing awareness demands employers thoroughly familiarize themselves with the issue and are provided with the necessary tools," said Jordi Morgan, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, vice president, Atlantic. "This template and online training will be very useful tools for our members and our business resource counsellors to ensure small- and medium-sized businesses are ready to adapt to this changing landscape."

“Sexual harassment is a serious issue for women. It creates barriers to their success," said Kelly Regan, Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. “The commission and its partners worked hard to build these resources and I wish it success as it continues to prevent and address sexual harassment in workplaces across the province."

To access the online resources, visit

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Community Conversations with Dr. Scot Wortley on Street Checks

Thursday, February 1, 2018 - 15:59

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission is continuing its meetings with the African Nova Scotian community on police street checks. On September 18, 2017, the Commission announced that it had selected Dr. Scot Wortley as the independent expert to examine Halifax Police street check data related to people of African descent. These meetings with Dr. Wortley provide members of the African Nova Scotian/Black community with an opportunity to ask questions, as well as contribute to and inform his process and analysis of the data. In November 2017, community meetings were held at the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church, at the Black Cultural Centre, and at the North Preston Community Centre. Now the Commission will hold meetings in Lucasville and Beechville in February.

Meeting Dates and Locations:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018: 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. The Wallace Lucas Community Centre, 596 Lucasville Road, Lucasville, Nova Scotia

Thursday, February 22, 2018: 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Beechville Baptist Church Hall, 1135 St. Margarets Bay Rd, Beechville, Nova Scotia

For more information, please contact: 902-424-7281 or

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Nova Scotia Youth Art - Human Rights

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - 18:30

For the 50th Anniversary of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, youth aged 12-24 from across Nova Scotia submitted work on what human rights means to them. The work appeared in libraries and community centres in Nova Scotia, and at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport on digital displays. Select works were also featured on Halifax Transit bus interiors. We were pleased to have these young artist at our Human Rights Day and Awards on December 8, 2017 at Citadel High School. See the art work by scrolling down the page.

“We are all human regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, etc. and should be treated as such.” Jillian Connors, Truro, N.S.
“My art piece is about all races, genders and sexuality (etc.) being accepted in Nova Scotia. Also it is about what we can possibility accomplish in the next 50 years. I chose to cover this topic because I think human rights and equality are important and I would like to see everyone accepted in the next 50 years.” ~ Emily Rafuse, New Ross, N.S.
This piece “represents my closest friends. And how we see each others differences and we learn from them. We help each other.” ~ Neenah Johnson, Halifax, N.S.
 “My piece represents the fact that regardless of anyone’s gender identity, we are all equal and all deserve the same amount of respect.” ~ Olivia Crook-Simiana, Dartmouth, N.S.
“My piece is about religion. Because that is a thing that I had to hear and sometimes people thought that about me.”  ~ Islam Tahina, Wolfville, N.S.
 “My piece is about gender identity/gender expression. I decided to cover this topic because I know people who are trying to discover their gender identity. The purple hands represent people reaching out to find what’s truly on the inside.” ~ Cleah Cameron,  Halifax, N.S.
“My piece shows different religions and beliefs, as well as different genders and how Nova Scotians accept them with Peace.”
 ~ Bowen Stokesbury-Price, Wolfville, N.S.
This piece is about “perception of gender, of who we are and who we see.” ~ Andrew Fuller,  Kemptville, N.S.
“This piece is about..the rights of the transgender child/youth. She is breaking away from the box she’d been put inside her entire life and she is discovering she can be free in her true self.” ~ Lucy (Lucky) Sharpe, Fletcher's Lake, N.S. 
CaptionWho ignored their human rights?  The ant represents people and plants represent those who take the ant’s right. The plants on the ant are cordyceps militaris, a well-known medicinal plant in Asia. Cordyceps are parasitic fungus that grows on insects and use the host’s body for growth and development. ~ Yusang Cho, Halifax N.S.
“This piece is about being transgender and hiding that you are.” Trinity DeJong, Brookside N.S.
“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.” ~ Manani Jones-Lamont, Halifax, N.S.
Art by Lacey Brown
“We are all equal no matter what our colour, religion or gender are.” ~ Lacey Brown, Grande-Pré, N.S.
“This is about how the way you are treated should not depend on the colour of your skin.” ~Milena Ramirez,
Wolfville, N.S.
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Settlement reached in Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission Complaint by Liane Tessier

Monday, December 18, 2017 - 14:04

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission (NSHRC), Halifax Regional Municipality, and Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency (HRFE) have settled a complaint filed by Liane Tessier alleging historic systemic discrimination based on gender.

As a result, there will be no further proceedings in this complaint.

“We’re sorry that Ms. Tessier had to go through such a lengthy process in order for this matter to come to resolution,” said Kymberly Franklin, Senior Legal Counsel at the NSHRC. “We credit her for sticking with her complaint. The investigation into this matter has been very thorough and now other female fire fighters in Nova Scotia should also benefit from the outcome."

“The Halifax Fire and Emergency Service has admitted that historic systemic discrimination took place based on gender as result of a complaint filed by Ms. Tessier,” said Ms. Franklin. “We commend them for taking steps to change their policies and practices to help prevent harassment and discrimination faced by female fire fighters.”

Ms. Tessier was a volunteer firefighter from 1998 to 2006. From January 2005 to May 2006, Ms. Tessier also worked as a paid casual firefighter. On May 21, 2008, Ms. Tessier filed a human rights complaint against the municipality and HRFE alleging discrimination based on gender. Her complaint was amended in 2014 to add historic systemic discrimination based on gender within the fire service.

Ms. Tessier’s personal human rights complaint of gender discrimination has been settled. In addition, the systemic discrimination complaint has also been settled, with assistance from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. HRFE acknowledges there has been a systemic issue within the fire service concerning the treatment of female firefighters. The department is committed to ensuring this is addressed through the ongoing changes that have been made since the filing of Ms. Tessier’s complaint.

As part of the settlement, Fire Chief Ken Stuebing has formally apologized  to Ms. Tessier and to any other female firefighter who has experienced gender discrimination while a member of HRFE. “As an organization, we must ensure our female firefighters feel welcome, valued, and respected as members of our team,” said Chief Stuebing. “As the chief, it is my responsibility to ensure our workplace is free from all language and behaviours meant to hurt, undervalue, or discriminate.”

The fire service is committed to ensuring HRFE is a welcoming and accepting workplace for women. Initiatives include specialized training for firefighters, independent investigations of internal complaints filed against the fire service, and a strong focus on improving the number of female firefighters in the department.

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2017 Human Rights Awards - Recipients

Thursday, December 7, 2017 - 22:37

Each year, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission recognizes Nova Scotians nominated by their peers for work in the field of human rights, social justice and advocacy. This year is particularly special, given it is the commission’s 50th anniversary – the organization was established in 1967. The theme of the 50th anniversary is “Learning from our past, building for our future.” 

"We’ve come a long way since 1967, and we recognize that more progress is needed to ensure respect for human rights. This can only be realized in partnership with Nova Scotians,” said Christine Hanson, commission director and CEO. “We are fortunate to live in a province where we not only have human rights protections in law, but we also have passionate and engaged people like the individuals and organizations we honoured today.” The recipients are:


Joshua Cochrane, 11, Yarmouth, honoured for his work to foster an inclusive environment for persons with disabilities.

Premier Stephen McNeil with Joshua Cochrane
Premier Stephen McNeil presents award to Joshua Cochrane


At a very young age, Joshua Cochrane was diagnosed with autism. Now, at 11 years old, he uses his personal journey to show the world that people on the spectrum can do anything that they want to do and helping to foster a more inclusive environment for persons with disabilities.Josh has attended the World Autism Festival several times, which has enabled him to connect with his peers who have autism from over 60 different countries. He was featured in a documentary called Connected: A Film About Autism, which was screened in Hollywood, New York City and other cities around the world. Since the age of 2, Josh has used his musical talents to help raise awareness about childhood cancer, veterans, mental health, organ donations, stem cell/bone marrow donations, PTSD, Wounded Warriors Canada, Hospice, Relay for Life and Children's Miracle Network. By the time that he was 8 years old, Josh raised over $300,000 for various charities. He was recently one of four recipients of the 2017 Prince of Wales Youth Service Award. 


Wade Smith, Halifax, recognized posthumously for his leadership in human rights, inclusive education and community mentorship. 

Rev. Dr. Lennett Anderson presents Wade Smith's human rights award to his family
Rev. Dr. Lennett Anderson presents award to Wade Smith's wife Sherry and son Jaxon. 


Wade Smith embodied the “Each One, Teach One” philosophy and delighted in giving back to his community.  An educator, mentor, community activist, loving husband to Sherry and father to Jaydan and Jaxon, Wade was a passionate humanitarian who championed human rights for all. A proud African Nova Scotian, he attained a Bachelor of Arts from Saint Francis Xavier University, a Bachelor of Education from Saint Mary's University, and a Master of Education degree from Mount Saint Vincent University. As a teacher and principal in public school, adult and university education for over 25 years, Wade was genuinely concerned about all students, particularly marginalized youth.  He was solutions-focused; working conscientiously to create a safe learning environment that welcomed diversity, embraced equity and protected against discrimination and harassment. To fellow educators, he was a role model; leading the way on culturally proficient mentorship, curriculum and training development. 

A devout athlete, he gave back to the basketball world through coaching at the Community YMCA, high school, and Basketball NS which led to the pinnacle of his coaching career when he was named head coach of Nova Scotia's U-17 Boys Canada Games Team. As a mentor, Wade believed in setting goals, sharing his time and making a difference in the lives of everyone he encountered. He often expressed, "Giving back was not a choice. It was an obligation." "You get up everyday and go to work and make a difference in someone's life." Above all, Wade emphasized that his family was paramount. His wife and sons were his source of support and strength enabling him to enrich the lives of many Nova Scotians. Wade’s legacy lives on in the lives of all whom he inspired.

Angela Simmonds, Cherry Brook, Halifax Regional Municipality, recognized for her commitment to human rights by helping African Nova Scotian communities to obtain titles to their land. 

Tracey Jones-Grant presents award to Angela Simmonds 


Angela Simmonds believes that the law can be used as a tool to address discrimination, systemic racism and inequities in our society. She has become a legal expert on Preston land claims and issues relating to the Land Titles Clarification Act (LTCA). Because of her workhelping African Nova Scotians to obtain titles to their land that their families have lived on for generations, she appeared before a United Nations expert panel that subsequently echoed her recommendations in their preliminary report. She also worked closely with the Nova Scotia Community College to create a video on the subject that was recently awarded the Human Rights Amnesty Award. A JD graduate from the Dalhousie Schulich School of Law, Angela currently works for the Nova Scotia Legal Aid – Youth Office. She has previously worked for the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, Federal Prosecution Service Canada, the Department of Natural Resources, Schools Plus and the Halifax Regional School Board. She is a recipient of the 2017 Judge Corrine Sparks Award and the 2017 Dalhousie Legal Aid Service’s Sarah MacWalker MacKenzie Clinical Law Award

Nicole Doria, Halifax, a recent graduate of Dalhousie University, honoured for her commitment to promoting human rights in support of the health of Indigenous peoples

Commissioner Cheryl Knockwood presents award to Nicole Doria


Nicole Doria is a recent graduate of the Master of Health Promotion program at Dalhousie University and currently works in patient-oriented research at the Maritime SPOR Support Unit. Nicole holds leadership positions on the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre Board of Directors and the Indigenous Health Interest Group at Dalhousie, which aim to close the human rights gaps that exist for victims of sexualized violence and Indigenous peoples in Nova Scotia. Through her various roles, Nicole has become a strong advocate for improved Indigenous health and wellness, the advancement of an Indigenous curriculum, improved affirmative action policies, and the prevention of sexualized violence across the province. She is described as having a spirt of excellence, an incredible work ethic, a genuine ability to lead, and an inspirational desire to improve the world around her.


Syria-Antigonish Families Embrace (SAFE), a group in Antigonish recognized for its work to promote human rights by resettling Syrian refugee families. 

Minister of Immigration Lena Diab presents award to Syria-Antigonish Families Embrace


SAFE is a community initiative that has sponsored Syrian refugee families displaced from their homes by war and helped them to start a new life in Antigonish. It has a core organizing group of 20 people from all walks of life, but they are fortunate to have the active involvement and support of the larger community. Since May 2015, SAFE has sponsored four Syrian families with one more expected in early 2018 and another later in the year. The community has come together to secure and renovate housing; find furniture and clothing; connect the families with healthcare; settle the children in school and the adults in English language classes; help the adults to open bank accounts; and so much more. SAFE truly believes that the Syrian refugee families have helped Antigonish to become a better, more loving community and they are humbled by the generosity of all those who have supported the initiative.  

Bill 59 Community Alliance, recognized for its advocacy for the rights of persons with disabilities throughout the province.

Diana Whalen presents award to Bill 59 Community Alliance


The Bill 59 Community Alliance is a group of advocates that formed a single voice for persons with disabilities. It was supported by 35 organizations representing all disabilities. The Province of Nova Scotia invited the Alliance to help draft the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act. The first time such a collaborative legislative drafting process has been undertaken in the province. The result: perhaps the most progressive accessibility act in Canada with a stated goal to make the province fully accessible by 2030. It is the third such Act in Canada. It also profoundly changed the institutional landscape for supporting persons with disabilities, transforming it from a Social Service Model to a Human Rights Model. The Act resides with the Minister of Justice.

Women’s Wellness Within, Halifax, recognized for its work to promote the rights of incarcerated and criminalized women and their children. 

Commission Chair Eunice Harker presents award to Martha Paynter on behalf of Women's Wellness Within


Women’s Wellness Within is a non-profit organization that supports criminalized women and trans individuals who are pregnant or parenting young children in Nova Scotia. In addition to one-on-one client support, WWW facilitates monthly workshops on women’s health for imprisoned women; leads seminars for health professionals and students; and speaks publicly to raise consciousness of the rights and reproductive health experiences of criminalized women. WWW’s work also includes advocacy on behalf of criminalized women on issues, such as banning the solitary confinement of women; providing access to internet and phone for incarcerated women to communicate with their families and to develop health literacy; ensuring dignity and respect for imprisoned trans individuals; and developing alternatives to incarceration to advance reproductive justice and women's rights to parent. WWW's 50+ members include formerly incarcerated women, doulas, health care providers, lawyers, students, researchers and mentors. It works in close partnership with the Chebucto Family Centre, the Elizabeth Fry Societies of Cape Breton and Mainland Nova Scotia, the IWK Health Centre, and the Halifax Branch of the Women’s Legal Education Action Fund. 


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