Stories of Canada’s inspiring human rights defenders to educate students across the nation
Rights champions gather in Ottawa to launch Speak Truth To Power Canada

July 15, 2015

Ottawa – Twelve inspiring Canadian human rights defenders are the focus of a new national resource being rolled out to teachers across the country this fall. “Speak Truth to Power Canada (STTP Canada)” is designed to raise awareness of the importance of human rights and motivate young people to become defenders themselves.

Seven of the individuals featured in this groundbreaking educational initiative are gathering Friday evening in Ottawa for the official launch of this online resource.

Event details:

When: 7 p.m., Friday, July 17, 2015
Where: Victoria Ballroom, 2nd floor, Marriott Hotel, 100 Kent Street, Ottawa

Their compelling stories draw attention to the human rights issues all around us in Canada – stories of violation, resilience, survival and hope – adding relevance to lessons about human rights taught in Canadian classrooms.

The 12 profiled defenders are (those at the July 17 event are underlined):

  • Louise Arbour (Québec),
  • Remzi Cej (Newfoundland),
  • Léonie Couture (Québec),
  • Jeremy Dias (Alberta/Ottawa),
  • Rick Hansen (British Columbia),
  • Gilles Julien, (Québec),
  • Wilton Littlechild (Ermineskin Cree Nation, Alberta),
  • Art Miki (Manitoba),
  • Timea Nagy (Ontario),
  • Rosemary Sadlier (Ontario),
  • Mary Simon (Inuit/Québec) and
  • Karihwakeron Tim Thompson (Wahta Mohawk Territory, Ontario).

A backgrounder on defenders will be available on Friday.

This first educational initiative of its kind in Canada helps fill a gap identified by teachers in a recent survey about human rights resources for schools. The Canadian resource, available in French and English, was developed over the last two years through a partnership between the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR). The RFKHR created Speak Truth To Power resource which is now being taught to millions of students around the world.

“Continuing the legacy of Robert Kennedy, all our programs focus on the power of the individual to create change,” said STTP Executive Director John Heffernan. “This uniquely Canadian adaptation will inspire students to stand up and speak out when they witness injustice and inequality.”

The Canadian defenders will be added to the global resource compiled by the RFKHR alongside international human rights icons such as the Dalai Lama, Rigoberta Menchu and Desmond Tutu. The global resource is now being used in over a dozen countries and is available in eight languages. The powerfully courageous story of STTP Canadian defender—Wilton Littlechild—will be presented as one of five readings by champions of human rights education from all over the world at the 7th Education International Congress in Ottawa next week. In addition, Canadian Defender Remzi Cej will introduce STTP Canada at the Congress on July 25.

By profiling Canada’s own human rights stories, the creators of Speak Truth to Power Canada worked to put human rights in a recognizable, local context. The website of “Speak Truth to Power Canada – Defenders for Human Rights” can be viewed on July 17. Additional resource material for educators will be added to the online resource over the next few months.

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For more information and to arrange advance interviews, please contact:

Pauline Théoret, CTF Program Officer
Canadian Teachers’ Federation @CanTeachersFed @EnseigneCanada
613-688-4303; Cell: 613-899-4207  ptheo@ctf-fce.ca

Maureen Fitzhenry, Media relations manager
Canadian Museum for Human Rights @CMHR_News
204-289-2112; Cell: 204-782-8442  maureen.fitzhenry@humanrights.ca

Daniel Cronin
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
917-284-6356  cronin@rfkhumanrights.org

Patricia D’Souza, Senior Communications Officer
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
613.292.4482  dsouza@itk.ca

Alain Garon, Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789, ext 382  agaron@afn.ca