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.

The commission ensures that its complaint procedure is accessible, but it also carries out a public education mandate. It issues recommendations, publishes reports and guidelines, has a presence on social media, and provides human rights training for companies, employees and students on an ongoing basis. But is that enough?

It is now essential for the public to become involved and to be aware of its role in respecting the obligations set out in the New Brunswick Human Rights Act and then assume that role.

Human rights affect almost every aspect of society, including housing services (landlord/tenant relations), health services (patient/health-care provider relations), employment (employer/employee relations), education (teacher/student relations), and public transportation by taxi, bus, etc. We all have our role to play in these areas so we can live in a society in which every person’s rights are respected. We cannot allow those close to us, our neighbours and the people in our community, to live in isolation and exclusion because of their differences. We must forge ahead and take concrete action to promote inclusion and diversity.

During the year, we have seen people organize and get together to raise public awareness of their special characteristics and specific needs; people who have asked for their basic rights to be respected and to be treated with respect and without discrimination. Each and every one of us must recognize that right for others so that everyone is accepted and respected, regardless of their differences.

On New Brunswick Human Rights Day, let us draw inspiration from Becca Schofield’s #BeccaToldMeTo movement and her campaign to promote kindness to those around us. Let us do something for others to promote respect, equality and the elimination of discrimination.

For further information about this topic, the act or the commission, New Brunswickers may contact the commission at 506-453-2301 or toll-free at 1-888-471-2233 within New Brunswick. TTY users may also reach the commission at 506-453-2911.