Celebrated annually around the world on December 10th, International Human Rights Day marks the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Declaration was a moral, unified shout by the leading countries in the world, proclaiming loud and clear the inalienable rights everyone is entitled to as a human being — regardless of religion, race, colour, sex, language, national or social origin, political or other opinion, property, birth or other status.
It was a monumental document. The most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages.
But it was not the first of its kind.
A year earlier, while the Universal Declaration was still a draft waiting to be adopted, the Tommy Douglas government passed the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights Act in 1947.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the landmark statute. A statute designed to protect a broad range of civil liberties and human rights in Saskatchewan. Not only did the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights Act guarantee everyone in the province fundamental democratic freedoms (of expression and association, freedom from arbitrary imprisonment, the right to vote, etc.), it also pledged access to what we now consider the public sphere — education, employment, property and accommodation, public services, membership in professional and trade associations — without discrimination or prejudice based on race, creed, religion, colour or ethnic or national origin.
Legislation of that magnitude was revolutionary at the time. And, to this day, serves to protect the human rights of the people in this province as Part I of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.