April 19, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission
In its newly released 2016 Annual Report to Parliament, Canada’s human rights watchdog is shining a light on how too many children in Canada are being left behind when it comes to their basic rights of dignity, safety, education and family.
“Ensuring that children are given equal opportunities to thrive, regardless of their individual challenges, is the best way of ensuring human rights for all,” says Chief Commissioner Landry in the report’s opening message. “How they are treated today, will determine, in large measure, how they will treat others tomorrow.”
The report presents the stories of five young Canadians and their individual experiences with discrimination and exclusion. The stories are heartbreaking but also inspiring accounts of the struggle for acceptance that too many of Canada’s children must face:
- “No support” is about the issue of child welfare services on First Nations reserves. It tells the story of Cheryl — a courageous First Nations girl who spent her childhood being passed around the on-reserve foster care system before becoming a mother at the age of 18.
- “Nobody’s business” is about trans rights. It tells the stories of two bright, gender-diverse kids, Jake and Charlie.
- “Left behind” is about the issue that students with disabilities in Canada are facing overwhelming barriers and challenges within our school systems. It tells the story of Jenna, an autistic girl living in Northern Canada, and the exclusion she faced at school.
- “Locked up” is about the issue of migrants, both adults and children, being held in detention in Canada. It tells the story of a young girl who—together with her mother—spent 385 days in Toronto’s Immigration Holding Centre.
The Commission’s Annual Report also offers updated statistics on the Commission’s discrimination complaints, as well as a glimpse at the new work being done at the Commission as part of its “people first” three-year strategy.
In 2016, the Commission received 1,488 discrimination complaints from people in Canada seeking human rights justice.
The largest proportion (60%) of complaints the Commission received in 2016 were related to disability.
48% of the disability complaints received by the CHRC were related to mental health issues. This means that 29% of the total complaints received by the CHRC in 2016 were related to mental health.
“Ensuring that children are given equal opportunities to thrive, regardless of their individual challenges, is the best way of ensuring human rights for all. How they are treated today, will determine, in large measure, how they will treat others tomorrow.” — Marie-Claude Landry, Ad. E., Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission
“Too many families are losing hope. It’s time to help young parents by offering support and opportunities, not by creating barriers.” — Cheryl Bruce, “No support”
“Girlish boy, boyish girl—why does it matter at all?” — Charlie Lowthian-Rickert, “Nobody’s business”
“There was so little local support for kids like us.” — Jenna Aitken, “Left behind”
“Migration is not a crime.” — Dr. Michaela Beder, “Locked up”