Community Conversations with Dr. Scot Wortley on Street Checks

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 14:30

On September 18, 2017, The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission announced that it had selected Dr. Scot Wortley as the independent expert to examine Halifax police street check data related to persons of African descent.

The Commission will now host meetings with Dr. Scot Wortley and members of the African Nova Scotian/Black community. These meetings will provide an opportunity for those attending to meet Dr. Wortley and ask him questions, as well as contribute to and inform his process and analysis of the data.

Meeting Dates and Locations:

Monday, November 6, 2017: 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - Cornwallis Street Baptist Church, 5457 Cornwallis St, Halifax, N.S.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017: 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. - Black Cultural Centre, 10 Cherry Brook Rd, Cherry Brook, N.S.

Thursday, November 9, 2017:  7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. - North Preston Community Centre, 44 Simmonds Rd, North Preston, N.S.

For more information and to contact 902-424-7281 or HRCEducation@novascotia.ca.

For more background information regarding this initiative and a bio for Dr. Wortley, please visit this page.

 

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Gender Markers and ID Documents: Community Consultation

Thursday, October 26, 2017 - 14:25

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and South House are partnering to hold a community consultation session about gender markers on ID documents. Have you encountered obstacles or challenges in changing your gender marker on your Nova Scotia ID? The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and South House invite people who identify as trans, intersex, non-binary, two-spirit, or other diverse gender identities and gender expressions to participate in a facilitated conversation about gender and provincial ID documents. The aim of this consultation is to increase understanding and foster communication between communities and government on this issue. We would love to hear your stories, your perspectives, and your concerns.

When: November 23, 2017. 6:30pm-8:00pm.

Where: South House Sexual and Gender Resource Centre. 1443 Seymour Street. Halifax.

South House is an accessible space, with an all gender washroom. Catering will be provided. Please RSVP by November 9 to Allison.Smith@novascotia.ca. If you are unable to attend, but would still like to provide comments, please let us know.

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Call For Nominations: 2017 Nova Scotia Human Rights Awards

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 - 13:20

On its 50th anniversary, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission invites Nova Scotians to nominate individuals or groups for the 2017 Human Rights Awards.

Deadline for nominations: Friday, Nov. 10, at 4:30 p.m.

The awards are presented annually by the Commission and Partners for Human Rights, a group of organizations dedicated to creating more respectful communities through promotion of human rights.

“This is a big year for the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. What better way to celebrate a 50th anniversary than to recognize those who drive positive social change,” said Mark Furey, Minister responsible for the Human Rights Commission. 
“I encourage Nova Scotians to nominate the individuals or organizations that are helping us build an inclusive province through respect for human rights.”

Nominations can be made in three categories: youth, individual (Dr. Burnley Allan "Rocky" Jones Award), and groups/organization and are for people or groups that support projects advancing human rights. Winners will be announced on December 8 during the province’s International Human Rights Day celebrations.

Please note that you cannot nominate someone who has received an award in the past five years. More information, including on past awardees, can be found here.

How to make a nomination: Download the nomination package, which can be found: here.

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Serious Concerns Raised by UN Regarding Systemic Discrimination Faced by African Nova Scotian

Monday, September 25, 2017 - 13:52

After visiting Nova Scotia and other parts of Canada last fall, a United Nations working group is raising serious concerns regarding ongoing systemic discrimination faced by people of African descent.

The UN Expert Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent is on the agenda to present its report to the UN Human Rights Council today, Sept. 25, and tomorrow in Geneva.

"The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission continues to see evidence of racism and discrimination faced by African Nova Scotians," said Christine Hanson, the commission's director and CEO. "We call on communities and governments at all levels to examine and develop policies and practices to address the report's recommendations."

In its published report, the working group stated that it is deeply concerned by the structural racism that lies at the core of many Canadian institutions and the systemic anti-Black racism that continues to have a negative impact on the human rights situation of African Canadians. Canada's history of enslavement, racial segregation and marginalization of African Canadians has left a legacy of anti-Black racism which must be addressed in partnership with the affected communities. African Nova Scotians make up the largest racially visible group in Nova Scotia.

Among its observations, touching on human rights, justice, employment, health and other areas, the report also recognizes efforts in Nova Scotia to improve the situation of people of African descent. For instance, it welcomed the restorative inquiry for the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, as a model of collaborative and restorative approaches in addressing issues affecting people of African descent. The working group also expressed concerns over the lack of implementation of the Land Title Clarification Act, which is aimed at resolving outstanding land claim issues within historically Black communities. The Nova Scotia government will make an announcement on this issue later this week. "The commission is pleased the government is taking action to address this long-standing issue and looks forward to an announcement with greater detail later in the week," said Ms. Hanson.

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Act mandates the commission to address allegations of racism and discrimination and build inclusive communities through human rights public education. The commission recently announced that it hired independent expert Scot Wortley to examine Halifax police street check data and to make policy recommendations to the Halifax Police Board of Commissioners. In March, the commission launched an education campaign in partnership with the Nova Scotia business community, Serving All Customers Better, free online training for front line retail staff to address and prevent consumer racial profiling. The training has already reached thousands of people. "We are grateful that the UN Expert Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent came to Nova Scotia," said Ms. Hanson. "We welcome their recommendations as they will help inform our work with partners, stakeholders and the community."

The United Nations Decade for People of African Descent runs until 2024. The UN, in proclaiming this decade, recognizes that people of African descent represent a distinct group whose human rights must be promoted and protected.

The working group's report that will be presented to Human Rights Council is publicly available on the United Nations high commissioner for human rights website at: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G17/239/60/PDF/G1723960.pd...

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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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