The African-Canadian Resource Network (ACRN), in collaboration with the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan, and Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, held a two-day inter-provincial conference on July 5 and 6 at the University of Regina. With the theme, “Advancing Human Rights Values,” the goal of the conference was to explore the mental health, social and economic costs of oppression based on perceived race, gender, and religious differences.

Community-based researchers, academics, policy makers, service providers, and community leaders gave presentations about policy, theory, and lived experience. As well, researchers discussed preliminary findings of the Inter-action Project, a participatory action research project to understand the human, social and economic costs of oppression experienced by the African-Canadian community.

The SHRC’s Director of Systemic Initiatives, Darrell Seib, spoke about the Commission’s efforts to address discrimination that affects large groups (or cohorts) of people through collaboration and stakeholder engagement. He highlighted recent successes in the areas of accessible public transportation, efforts to address issues facing the D/deaf and/or hard of hearing, and addressing discrimination experienced by renters who receive public assistance. Seib noted that positive outcomes are made possible by the commitment of people with lived experience, municipal officials and leaders, businesses and organizations, as well as the significant contributions of provincial Ministries

Kayode Akomolafe, an Investigator (Systemic Initiatives) with the Commission, spoke at the conference about the relevance of immigration in addressing many of Canada’s human capital needs. Reviewing the lived experiences of immigrants who have been discriminated against and the attendant economic costs of discrimination, Mr. Akomolafe advocated for a sustained systemic approach in addressing/ending discriminatory practices against immigrants, until the province’s motto “from many peoples, strength” is not a mere aphorism, but our shared reality.

Also at the conference, Shade Adeagbo, an Investigator with the Commission, discussed the peculiar challenges immigrant women face in the work environment. Sharing from current research and lived experience reports, she considered the consequent impact of discrimination to this intersectional group, strategies for overcoming these challenges, and how The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code addresses these issues.

The ACRN, MCoS, the SHRC, and conference attendees committed to pursue further opportunities for collaboration.