Nova Scotia recognizes those who stood up for human rights

Metro Halifax
Published on December 12, 2016

HALIFAX, N.S. – Nova Scotia recognized six of its most outstanding citizens and groups at a ceremony on Saturday for their work in promoting human rights, social justice and advocacy.

 Marking the 66th United Nations’ International Human Rights Day, the event saw dignitaries and recipients from across the province gather in Halifax’s Central Library to celebrate this year’s theme – “Stand up for someone’s rights today!”

“This year’s awards recipients have absolutely answered that call to action,” said Christine Hanson, Director and CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission at the ceremony. “Nova Scotia is most definitely a better place because of them.”

 El Jones, Halifax’s former poet laureate, was one of the three recipients for the Burnley Allan “Rocky” Jones award for individual achievement.  Her work as an activist, promoting and calling for the protection of human rights for prisoners, prompted the award.

“Sometimes people think that if you’re doing work with prisoners you’re doing something wrong,” Jones said. “For the Human Rights Commission to acknowledge this work is to also acknowledge those people.”

Samuel Gregan, a Grade 9 student at Gorsebrook Junior High, received the Human Rights Commission’s Youth Award for his work as an LGBTQ advocate inside of his school and throughout the community.

“I couldn’t have done this without my parents,” he said. “Thanks to my guidance counsellor who nominated me for this.”

Two organizations also received awards on Saturday. The Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) won for its instrumental work in resettling more than 1,100 Syrian refugees throughout the province during the past year.

Mount Saint Vincent University’s Alexa McDonough Institute for Women, Gender and Social Justice won for their annual Girls’ Conference, which allows young women to learn about human rights and social justice issues in a safe environment.

Dr. David Leitch and Raymond G. Tynes were the other recipients for individual achievement.

Leitch won for his work improving access to education for people with disabilities while Tynes was recognized for his push to eliminate racism and discrimination.

“It takes real men and women to show leadership,” Tynes said while accepting his award. “Embrace equity and equality.”