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

On Dec. 10, New Brunswickers and people around the world are invited to celebrate International Human Rights Day. It is the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948.

I invite all New Brunswickers to echo this year’s theme, which is Defend someone’s rights today! It is everyone’s responsibility to take concrete actions and maintain relationships that instill respect and an appreciation of diversity and a lack of discrimination against those near to us, our neighbours, and our community.

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that all human beings “are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

This day is an opportunity to think about the progress we have made, and about the action we can take now. Investing in our communities to help victims of harassment, bullying, lack of accommodation, or a form of discrimination prohibited by the New Brunswick Human Rights Act is a first step toward exercising our fundamental rights as protected by that law, regardless of our ethnic origin, religion, skin colour, social status, gender or sexual orientation. Let us also extend a hand to newcomers and refugees to make them feel as though they are an integral part of their new land.

The day also reminds us that human rights are universal and of crucial importance, and that we cannot take them for granted.

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.