STC Truth and Reconciliation Education and Awareness
On August 20, 2021, Chief Commissioner Barry Wilcox attended the Saskatoon Tribal Council’s (STC) Truth and Reconciliation Education and Awareness event at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex in Saskatoon.
The event honoured residential school survivors while promoting understanding and unity.
“I would like to thank Tribal Chief Mark Arcand, the Saskatoon Tribal Council, their many volunteers, and the numerous people who organized this event,” said Chief Commissioner Wilcox. “Educational events like these are essential for meaningful reconciliation. Everyone must learn the truths of our shared history and what happened at residential schools. Education plays a vital role in uncovering, illuminating, and understanding these truths.”
The STC’s Truth and Reconciliation Education and Awareness event included teachings from Elders and Knowledge Keepers and experiences of residential school survivors, as well as drums and sacred dances by traditional dancers.
“We need to work together to achieve mutual respect and understanding,” said Chief Commissioner Wilcox. “By respecting and understanding one another, we can help shape our shared path to healing and reconciliation.”
Commissioner Kuttai raises $2,738 for Saskatoon AIDS Walk
On September 26, SHRC Commissioner Heather Kuttai attended the Saskatoon AIDS Walk at Victoria Park.
The annual fundraising event, which began in 1993, was hosted by Prairie Harm Reduction, OUTSaskatoon, and Saskatoon Sexual Health. With more than 160 participants, the 2021 AIDS Walk raised a record-breaking $90,000.
Proceeds from the event help fund programming, support services, education, and resources for people living with and impacted by HIV/AIDS in Saskatoon and surrounding areas.
“The Saskatoon AIDS Walk is an important day that I circle on my calendar every year,” said Commissioner Kuttai, who raised $2,738 for the event. “Not only is it a fundraiser, but it also helps raise awareness about the realities of AIDS/HIV in Saskatchewan.”
Currently, Saskatchewan has the highest HIV rate in Canada –more than double the national average.
The Global Voice - International Human Rights Day
Commissioner Fatima Coovadia appeared on The Global Voice, the Saskatoon Open Door Society’s radio show, on Sunday, December 5.
During the special episode, which served as a precursor to International Human Rights Day, Commissioner Fatima spoke about growing up under Apartheid in South Africa and the journey that brought her to Saskatchewan. She also discussed human rights, the responsibilities that come with those rights, and the duty we each have to uphold the rights of others.
The Global Voice, which is a new to CFCR 90.5FM Saskatoon Community Radio, celebrates diversity and inclusion by highlighting newcomer stories and talent. It is also a space for the broader community to be inspired, to learn about the institutions and organizations providing support to newcomers, the struggles they face and how to get involved in the good work being done by community organizations supporting newcomers.
The show takes place live every Sunday morning from 10 – 11 a.m.
USSU Women in Leadership Gala
On March 8, 2022, Norma Gunningham-Kapphahn, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission was a guest speaker at the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union’s “Women in Leadership Gala”.
The event celebrated International Women’s Day by highlighting women in leadership.
Gunningham-Kapphahn was joined by fellow guest speakers Manuela Valle-Castro (Director of Division Accountability, College of Medicine UofS), Patricia MacDougall (Deputy Provost UofS) and Cara Bahr (CEO of the YWCA Saskatoon). The panel explored career challenges, provided advice critical for success, and discussed how their work as women in leadership impacts future generations.
This year, the annual USSU event raised funds for the YWCA.
On May 20, 2021, Commissioner Mike San Miguel attended Kulay Saskatoon at Bishop LeGatt Hall in Saskatoon. The theme for the event was “Cultural Diversity and Inclusion – A Celebration of Colours.”
Numerous organizations were also in attendance (the SK Korean Language School, the Saskatchewan Rattlers, Saskatoon Community Youth Arts Programming, the City of Saskatoon), as well as students from the Filipino Heritage School, teachers, and parents.
The event featured a cosplay competition, an art exhibit, an on-the-spot painting contest, a singing contest, a trade show, an auction, a mural painting contest, and more.
Kulay Saskatoon is a project developed by Bayanihan Community Services Canada Inc. (BCSCI), in partnership with PRIMECom Corporation. This year, Kulay Saskatoon’s beneficiary was Saskatoon Community Youth Arts Programming – an organization that helps at risk youth through arts and cultural programing by providing inclusive art drop-in programs, workshops, and classes with trained instructors.
Kulay is a Filipino word for colour. Colour could mean many things – the colour of a person’s skin (race), colours of a flag (nationality), and colours of the rainbow (gender preference).
Our London Family Vigil 2022
On June 6, 2022, Commissioner Fatima Coovadia spoke at an evening vigil to honour and remember the Muslim Canadian family killed a year ago in London, Ont., and to stand together against Islamophobia, racism, and hate.
The vigil, which was held at Civic Square in Saskatoon, marked the one-year anniversary of a hit-and-run incident in which four members of the Afzaal family were murdered and another was seriously injured. Police determined the attack was premeditated, and that the family members were targeted because of their Islamic faith.
During her speech, Commissioner Coovadia offered words of support for Fayez, the then 9-year-old who was seriously injured and “orphaned through hate” by the incident, as well words of remembrance for the four family members (Talat, Salman, Madiha and Yumna) who lost their lives.
Commissioner Coovadia also reminded those in attendance that “every human has a right to live, free and with dignity – free from hate, free from being targeted simply because you choose to worship differently or look a certain way or because you choose to dress the way you wish.”
She urged people to understand these rights, to stand up against hate, and to act on our responsibilities.
“Because with our rights come responsibilities,” said Coovadia. “The responsibility each of us has to educate ourselves, to break down barriers, to build relationships, to get to know our neighbours and classmates and colleagues and, in doing so, to build a more respectful and accepting society that values and upholds the rights of others. We have the responsibility of holding ourselves, the people around us, and our leaders accountable for the choices we make, for the words we choose, for the actions we take.”
See below for Commissioner Coovadia’s full speech.
As salaam mu alakykum. May peace be upon you all. Good evening ladies and gentlemen.
It is with a heavy heart that I stand before you on behalf of Chief Commissioner Barry Wilcox, Commissioner Gitlin, who is here with us today, and the rest of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission at this remembrance vigil for Our London Family.
An evening walk on a beautiful spring evening is something that my family enjoys. Yes, it often takes a promise of an ice cream and a nudge to get the teenagers out the door, but once out in the warm fresh air, it is a time of connection, sharing the days events, arguing over petty sports scores, tasting each others ice creams, and enjoying our time together.
Until last year, on this same fateful evening, the thought – “will we get home safely from this walk?” – never crossed my mind.
I had never asked myself:
Would someone choose to target my family?
Would someone choose to single out my husband as the other?
Would someone choose to see my mom as less than?
Would someone choose to see my daughter as not worthy?
Would someone choose to irreparably shatter the life of my baby boy?
And yet, on June 6, 2021, in London, Ont., Nathaniel Veltman, filled with hate CHOSE to do all that, as he intentionally targeted and killed four members the Afzaal family, leaving then 9-year-old Fayez seriously injured in hospital – orphaned through hate.
Talat, Salman, Madiha and Yumna, tonight we remember you and the lives that you lead. The contributions that you made to your community, the values that you chose to uphold, and the legacy you leave behind.
In Canada, every human has a right to live, free and with dignity – free from hate, free from being targeted simply because you choose to worship differently or look a certain way or because you choose to dress the way you wish. This is not only a constitutionally protected right, it is an inherent right because you are human. It is not okay anymore to say that one acts this way out of ignorance or because they didn’t know any better. We need to choose to do better. We need to choose to be responsible.
Because with our rights come responsibilities. The responsibility each of us has to educate ourselves, to break down barriers, to build relationships, to get to know our neighbours and classmates and colleagues and, in doing so, to build a more respectful and accepting society that values and upholds the rights of others. We have the responsibility of holding ourselves, the people around us, and our leaders accountable for the choices we make, for the words we choose, for the actions we take.
As Canadian citizens and members of one human family, it is our duty to strengthen the bonds of community, to act on our collective responsibilities, and to stand up and speak out against hate in all its forms. We can no longer be idle bystanders. We each have a responsibility to make the world a better place.
I will close with words for young Fayez. Please know that we remember, we grieve with you, we support you, we walk with you, and we commit to choose more wisely – to do better. I pray that you find comfort and peace on this difficult day and that you continue to heal, surrounded by love.