New Brunswick Celebrates Organization Dedicated to Helping Others
FREDERICTON (GNB) – Lt.-Gov. Jocelyne Roy Vienneau presented the 2017 New Brunswick Human Rights Award to the New Brunswick Multicultural Council on Friday, September 15th, during a ceremony at Government House in Fredericton. The event marked New Brunswick Human Rights Day, as well as the 50th anniversary of the New Brunswick Human Rights Act, which was adopted in 1967.
“The council received this award for its decades of outstanding work in promoting human rights, diversity and inclusion in communities across New Brunswick,” said New Brunswick Human Rights Commission chairperson Nathalie Chiasson. “More recently, the council has been prominently and actively engaged in the welcoming and settlement of Syrian refugees. The work of the council and its member agencies was instrumental; they provided programs, co-ordination and opportunities that directly helped hundreds of Syrian families begin a fresh start in New Brunswick.”
“It is a tremendous honour to receive the New Brunswick Human Rights Award, especially on the 50th anniversary of the Human Rights Commission,” said council president Mike Timani. “New Brunswick and Canada have come a long way since the New Brunswick Multicultural Council was established in 1983, but the work of promoting diversity, inclusion and human rights is as important now as it has ever been. Our province and our country can only prosper if all of our residents – those born here and new Canadians alike – can achieve their full potential and live free from prejudice and discrimination.”
The council has been active on local, provincial and national fronts over the years and played a part in the creation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act in 1988. The council works with 16 local multicultural associations throughout New Brunswick. It provides a unified voice for the province’s multicultural sector and also provides co-ordination and support for province-wide projects.
New Brunswick Human Rights Day is observed every Sept. 15 to commemorate the evolution, recognition and protection of human rights in the province. Since 1967, the commission has been responsible for enforcing the Human Rights Act. The organization is also responsible for the act’s evolution by recommending amendments to reflect societal changes.
“We live in a province and a country that both set the standard for freedom, inclusion and diversity,” said Chiasson. “We have so much to be proud of today and throughout our history but we cannot simply enjoy that pride. We must educate ourselves about the challenges we face and the opportunities that await us. We must be active participants in the continuing evolution of human rights.”
The award, a sculpture of walnut and maple with the names of the recipients engraved on the base, is on permanent public display at Government House. It was established by the commission in 1988 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each year, the award is given by the commission to an individual or group from New Brunswick that has shown outstanding effort, achievement and leadership on a volunteer basis in the promotion of human rights. Nominations are solicited from a wide variety of groups.
More About The New Brunswick Multicultural Council
The New Brunswick Multicultural Council Inc (NBMC) is a bilingual, not-for-profit, umbrella, organization committed to supporting immigrant-serving agencies, and multicultural and ethno-cultural associations in the province. Since 1983, NBMC has facilitated member, government and community efforts to make New Brunswick the province of choice for both newcomers and residents, through enhancing the economic, social and cultural value of diversity.
On October 7th 1971, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau announced at the House of Commons that multiculturalism would be an official government policy of Canada. In 1982, section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms fully recognized multiculturalism. During this time, multicultural associations were being formed in New Brunswick in the three main cities. In 1983, the three active multicultural associations in New Brunswick – the Multicultural Association of Fredericton, the Multicultural Association of he Greater Moncton Area, and The Multicultural Association of Saint John – all recognized that each spoke for themselves but no organization spoke for the entire New Brunswick multicultural community. A strong, unified voice was needed on the federal and provincial level, something no single city could accomplish or properly represent.
In order to best elevate and communicate concerns, anxieties, hopes, and aspirations of these multicultural groups and engage in issues at a provincial and federal level, an umbrella organization, in the form of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council (NBMC)- was formed and incorporated in 1983. At the start of the New Year in 1984, NBMC officially opened its doors.
NBMC participated in the creation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, which laid the groundwork for Canada to become the international leader on immigration and multiculturalism that it is today. Finally, 1988, the Canadian Multiculturalism Act was enacted by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney with recommendations from The New Brunswick Multicultural Council and other multicultural and immigrant serving groups all across the country.
The New Brunswick Multicultural Council encouraged the development and formation of new multicultural associations in areas throughout New Brunswick where no such associations existed. At the time of creation, NBMC only had three organizations listed in its membership and today boasts 16 member organizations. NBMC continues to support and connect its members through training and events, while also promoting public awareness and engagement in the multicultural reality of Canada and New Brunswick.
The New Brunswick Multicultural Council, staffed by passionate and exceptional individuals, has been advocating for a more multicultural and inclusive New Brunswick since 1984 and continues to do so today.