Report Of The Human Rights Committee Of The Atlantic Regional Council, February 2012

Present                                                                                   Regrets

Sandy Harquail, GLBT Director (Chair)                         Dana Bailey, RV Director

Lori Walton, NS Director                                                     Charlene Vito Milne, Aboriginal Director

Rhonda Doyle Leblanc, Maritime Womens Director

Melissa Hyde, NL Director

Anne Fagan Wood, Disabled Members Director

Alex Stuit, PSAC Staff Advisor


Introductions and Election of Chairperson


Roundtable introductions were made and the committee acclaimed Sister Sandy Harquail as Committee Chairperson.


Review and Amend Terms of Reference and Mandate Document


  • Update Human Rights Committee Members and Contact Information
  • Active Regional Human Rights Committees
    • Halifax, Sydney, Moncton, Charlottetown (Active Committees – 4)
    • Saint John, NB is trying to form a HR Committee
    • St. John’s, NL’s Human Rights Committee folded when the chair stepped down in October 2011.  The Atlantic Human Rights Committee agreed work needs to be done to re-establish the St. John’s Committee
  • In the Education section of the document direct member to PSAC Atlantic website for a guide on how to file a human rights complaint.
  • In the Communication/Networking section of the document:
    • Bullet #4, list all 11 prohibited grounds of discrimination. 
    • Bullet #7, Brother Stuit to assist us in arranging and establishing conference calls
    • Add additional Bullet as follows: Establish partnerships and coalitions with other labour and community human rights groups in support of and as a resource to our members with disabilities.
  • Brother Stuit amend PSAC Atlantic web link at the bottom of the document to reflect new location of updated document.


Reviewed Atlantic Human Rights Committee Report to PSAC Atlantic Regional Triennial Convention


Sister Hyde inquired on how we accomplished so much work with no budget/funding.  Members who were part of the previous committee explained how Human Rights/Equity resolutions never get support at conventions and never seem to receive funding.  Because we are so passionate about Human Rights, Equity and Diversity we find other ways and means to get funding in order to do the work that needs to be done.  Such as:

  • Making recommendations to receive funding for initiatives through Atlantic Council,
  • Accessing the PSAC Social Justice Fund for funding,
  • Accessing the Political Action Committee Budget if it is Political Action work,
  • Having the regional human rights committees work through their budgets,
  • Using at times, our Directors budgets,
  • Looking to our allies and other PSAC committees for funding (i.e. RWCs),
  • Sometimes even paying out of our own pockets to support the initiative.


Sister Hyde informed us of a group of PSAC members who make meals for a St. John’s food bank and asked for feedback on how to access funding to assist with this.  Committee members advised Sister Hyde to have them form a Human Rights Committee!


Discussion took place on how we could try to get equity resolutions passed at PSAC conventions. Ideas are to build allies and lobby across the various groups nationally within the PSAC (i.e. NAPC, Pride Network, EOC, Components)

  • As Sister Lori Walton is the only delegate from the Atlantic Human Rights Committee who is a delegate to the PSAC National Triennial Convention, Sister Lori volunteered to look at the Convention Resolutions to identify which are equity / human rights resolutions and report back via email to the committee to strategize on how we can move the equity resolutions forward.


Sister Anne mentioned a National Human Rights Committee Network has been established and is in the beginning stages.  She advised that she would share the contact information of the Brother from British Columbia who organized the network so we can become connected to it.


Brother Stuit mentioned there is talk of a Regional Aboriginal Peoples Circle being established and to stay tuned for more information.  Sister Harquail mentioned there is a standing invitation that the Greater Moncton Human Rights Committee has with the Atlantic Regional NAPC representatives to participate via teleconference.


Commemorative Dates


Reviewed list from PSAC website for updating purposes, the first item listed was African Heritage Month / Black History Month which led Sister Lori to speak of a recent occurrence of Racism in Nova Scotia.

  • Sister Walton advised the committee of an act of Racism this past weekend in Antigonish, Nova Scotia where as a Black Business owner had racist and derogatory graffiti spray painted across his business wall.  Sister Walton reminded the committee of the recent racist hate crimes that Black Nova Scotians have faced in recent years in rural NS and stated that Racism was alive and well and needed to be stopped.  Recommendation #1was formulated by the committee to be submitted to Atlantic Council

Continued with reviewing dates, committee suggested Brother Stuit add the following:

  • March 17th – International Day Against Homophobia
  • November 20th – Trans Day of Remembrance
  • October 10th – National Coming Out Day

Members of the Atlantic Human Rights Committee committed to further review and update any other missing dates they may notice.


New Resources / Discussion Items / Roundtable



  • CLC Booklet / toolkit entitled Workers in Transition
  • PSAC Employment Equity toolkit

Theses resources were distributed to committee members and are available to all Directors, Locals and Members from the PSAC Regional Offices.


Discussion Item:

  • Brother Stuit distributed and email that was forward to him for discussion regarding the Aboriginal Scalping Law, this is a law established in 1756 that is still on the books in Nova Scotia)  Recommendation #2 was written by the committee to Atlantic Council in response to this item.



  • Sister Harquail informed the committee a disturbing new Canadian Air Travel Regulation that discriminates against Transgendered individuals, GLBT and any individual who doesn’t look a specific way.  Regulation 5 (c) (1) states that if an airport employee believes that a passenger’s appearance “presents” the gender that is identified on their ID, they can deny boarding.  This is both for domestic (in Canada) and international flights.  Recommendation #3 was written by the committee to present to Atlantic Council.


  • Sister Walton raised concern regarding solidarity and leadership in regards to Council Directors supporting equity initiatives.  Recommendation #4was written by the committee as a reminder to the Council Directors from last term in office and an introduction to new Council Directors  for acceptance of the recommendation.


Atlantic Human Rights Committee Recommendations


Recommendation #1– Against Racism


Whereas in Antigonish there has a been a recent incident of racism and vandalism against a Black Business Owner,


Whereas the PSAC will be holding the Atlantic School and the CLC will be holding their Union School in April in Antigonish


We recommend that the PSAC (in conjunction with the CLC) organize a public action to show solidarity with the Black Community in Antigonish; to stand up and speak out against racism and hate crimes.

·      Suggestions:  Press Conference; Peace March; Rally; Paint or Repaint the business wall (if owner allows it – possibly with a Anti Racism or Hope for the Future msg/mural)


Recommendation #2 – Scalping Law


We recommend that PSAC Atlantic Council participates in actions supporting the repeal of the Scalping law in whichever was are requested, be it lobbying via letters, lobbying MPs / MLAs, letters to the editor, participating in rallies, etc.


Recommendation #3 – Discriminatory Travel Regulation


We recommend that PSAC takes a position against Canadian Air Travel Regulation 5 (c) (1) in regards to gender.  That PSAC Atlantic and Atlantic Council understand the issue and actively lobby their MPs and the Transportation Minister to have language amended so there is no opportunity for discrimination.


Recommendation #4 – Council Solidarity – Equity


We recommend that all Atlantic Council Directors reaffirm their commitment to show solidarity, leadership and support by promoting all equity events, initiatives and activities in their region, and actively participating where logistically possible.


In Solidarity,


Members of the PSAC Atlantic Human Rights Committee