FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued today by Nathalie Chiasson, chair of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, to mark Human Rights Day:

Since 2002, Sept. 15 has been the day that we officially commemorate the recognition of human rights in all communities across the province and underscores the coming into effect of the New Brunswick Human Rights Act on Sept. 15, 1967.

The adoption of the act was an important step forward for human rights. For the first time, New Brunswickers had an effective mechanism for fighting discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, and public services. It also led to the establishment of the Human Rights Commission to oversee the application of the act.

It is useful to recall that the concept of human rights and the creation of a vision of equality for all is constantly evolving and being shaped by population movements and the contribution of all people who bring about major societal changes, thus forming the mosaic of our society.

During the recent arrival of Syrian refugees, New Brunswickers were able to mobilize, show compassion and innovation, and take concrete actions to promote the principles of equality and respect. Those actions can only be applauded as practical measures that make us firmly committed to the equality of all New Brunswickers.

The 10-year education plans, Everyone at Their Best and Donnons à nos enfants une longueur d’avance, propose that emphasis be placed on inclusive education, which is based on respect for diversity. Those plans advocate a learning environment for our children that recognizes diversity in all its forms as being essential to personal and community development. This is an unequivocal invitation for all communities to work together to ensure our province remains a welcoming place characterized by respect and compassion.

We must all get involved and acknowledge that we must educate ourselves in order to truly understand our role and respective obligations as set forth in the Human Rights Act of New Brunswick. This will enable us to lead our lives in a manner that is respectful of those rights and to work together more closely to ensure the act is applied.

On this New Brunswick Human Rights Day, I congratulate each and every person who has taken action to promote respect, equality, and the elimination of discrimination over the past year.

In 2017, it will be the 50th anniversary of the act. This will serve as a focal point for expanding recognition of the basic principle that all human beings are equal in dignity and rights.

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