Recipients of the 2014 Nova Scotia Human Rights Award were recognized at the Human Rights Day celebration held in Cole Harbour today, Dec. 10.
Human Rights Day is an annual celebration in Nova Scotia commemorating the signing of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Human Rights Day provides us an opportunity to reflect on our individual contributions to strengthening human rights in Nova Scotia,” said Lena Metlege Diab, Minister responsible for the Human Rights Commission. “These awards recognize Nova Scotians who have chosen human rights as guiding principles in the way they live their lives.”
Sgt. Craig Smith of Halifax, and Scott Jones of Scotsburn were recognized for their work in human rights education with the Dr. Burley Allan “Rocky” Jones Award, the individual category renamed last year for the late activist and community leader. The Nova Scotia Mass Choir is this year’s recipient in the organization category.
Sgt. Smith is the site supervisor of the Cole Harbour RCMP detachment, as well as the lead on Halifax region’s crime prevention and victim services program. An author, educator, advocate, and leader in the area of human rights, Sgt. Smith has demonstrated a longtime commitment to community development in the African Nova Scotian community through his work.
Mr. Jones’ experience after a violent 2013 attack in New Glasgow that left him paralyzed led him to create the Don’t Be Afraid campaign against homophobia. Focused on promoting dialogue and understanding homophobic behaviour, attitudes and language, Jones’ commitment to curbing fear as a barrier to freedom to be ourselves, has been heard around the world.
The Nova Scotia Mass Choir actively spreads acceptance and racial harmony through its music and composition. The choir often reaches audiences that would not normally be exposed to the genre of black gospel music, thereby raising awareness of some of the cultural contributions of African Nova Scotians.
The day’s program included a community breakfast, keynote address by Delvina Bernard, executive director of the Council on African Canadian Education, as well as performances by district high school choirs and drama groups, spoken word poet Des Adams, vocalists Linda Carvery and Lana Grant, and Project ARC (Action, Responsibility, Choice).
Hosted by a different Nova Scotian community each year, the event is a partnership between the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and Partners for Human Rights.
“Regardless of who you are or what you do, fostering a respect for others that honours the dignity in each of us is an incredibly powerful act,” said Tracey Williams, director and CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. “The simple act of kindness, when delivered without judgment or prejudice, is the foundation of every positive relationship.”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948, as a result of the experience from the Second World War. The international community vowed never again to allow atrocities like those happen. World leaders decided to complement the UN Charter with a road map to guarantee the rights of every individual everywhere.
To learn more about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights visit http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/ .
To learn more about the Nova Scotia Human Rights Award visit http://humanrights.gov.ns.ca .