The Mainland Human Rights Committee is recognizing Equality Days throughout the year with an electronic and interactive Human Rights Equality Puzzle. Each puzzle piece represents a different day or month that is recognized in Canada and/or internationally. We invite you to check back throughout the year to learn about these important dates and for the unveiling of the puzzle picture on April 17, 2022.
Click to find the Sept 30th puzzle piece and find out more about Orange Shirt Day, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Click on a puzzle piece!
MHRC Human Rights Equality Puzzle
April 17th - the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Each April 17th we celebrate Canada’s Equality Day, the anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which came into effect on April 17, 1985. Read the Charter.
May - Asian Heritage Month
Each May we celebrate Asian Heritage Month. Please go to the following links to learn more about why we recognize this month and how you can celebrate it in your home.
- Learn: Discover more about Asian Heritage Month, events in Asian Canadian history, and noteworthy Canadians of Asian origin.
- Remember: Watch a video on the importance of activism and using your voice.
- Celebrate: Virtual Asian Heritage Month Festival 2021
May 5 - National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
May 5th has been designated as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls to honour those whose lives have been tragically cut short by violence.
Indigenous women in Canada are seven times more likely to be murdered by serial killers than non-Indigenous women. Click here to learn more about about the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
If you would like to raise awareness about this date, please consider doing any of the following:
1) Wear RED on May 5th and post a photo on social media with the hashtag #NationalDayofAwareness #MMIWG or #MMIW
2) Host a virtual event to honour this day
3) Create a living memorial
May 15 - International Day of Families
May 15th is International Day of Families, a date designated to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.
Far too often we do not see ourselves reflected in what is considered the gold standard example of families: PSAC and the Mainland Human Rights Committee wants to change that by spending the year celebrating you and your family.
Same-sex parent households, single parents, parents to fur-babies - you get to define what makes your family a family.
All PSAC members are encouraged to send in your pictures or videos of your family to email@example.com and tell us what makes your family so wonderful so that all of us in your union family can celebrate them too.
May 17 - International day against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia
International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) marks the date in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
IDAHOT aims to coordinate international events that raise awareness of LGBTQ2+ rights violations and stimulate interest in LGBTQ2+ rights work worldwide.
The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is not one centralized campaign; rather it is a moment that everyone can take advantage of to take action on queer rights.
Emily Craddock (she/her)
PSAC BC Regional Council LGBTQ2+ Rep
June - Pride Month
June is Pride Month and also marks the start of the Pride season of festivals and celebrations held across the country and around the world. Pride celebrates the LGBTQ2+ communities, acknowledges their history and achievements, and supports their rights and recognition that they deserve.
How to celebrate Pride virtually:
- Learn about the history of Pride in Canada
- Host a virtual happy hour with your friends, family, or even your union family.
- Support locallyl owned LGBTQ2+ businesses.
- Donate to LGBTQ2+ organizations within your community.
- Host a virtual LGBTQ2+ film festival with your friends and loved ones.
- Attend virtual events, such as a Drag Queen Storytime.
June - National Indigenous History Month
National Indigenous History Month
Each June Canadians celebrate National Indigenous History Month to honour the history, heritage, and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
We encourage you to set aside some time this month to learn, share, and celebrate their varied traditions and cultures, their stories, and their important contributions to the history of this country.
June 21 - National Indigenous Peoples Day
This June 21st we celebrate the 25th anniversary of National Indigenous Peoples Day!
Here are some ideas as to how you can virtually celebrate the the rich, varied, and beautiful heritage, cultures and achievements of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people:
- Watch Indigenous films and/or documentaries.
- Listen to music, read a book, enjoy artwork by Indigenous artists.
- Visit a museum collection of Indgenous art and artifacts online.
- Participate in one of the virtual events in your community
- Familiarize yourself with the 94 Calls to Action and make a personal pledge of reconciliation.
June 27 - Multiculturalism Day
Each June 27th we celebrate Multiculturalism Day, however this year is especially noteworthy because it is a milestone year.
The 50th anniversary of the Multiculturalism Policy
In 1971, Canada is the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy, intending to preserve the cultural freedom of all individuals and provide recognition of the cultural contributions of diverse ethnic groups to Canadian society. For many years following this initial action, multicultural policies do not meet the needs of all immigrants to Canada, but the introduction of the term brings attention to the need for federal coordination to reflect the diversity of Canadian society. (Source: Library and Archives Canada)
August 9 - International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
August 9 commemorates the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. It is celebrated around the world and marks the date of the inaugural session of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations at the United Nations in 1982.
The 2021 commemoration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples focuses on the theme “Leaving no one behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract.” This year's commemoration features an interactive discussion on the distinct elements to be considered when building and redesigning a new social contract that is inclusive of Indigenous peoples—where Indigenous peoples’ own forms of governance and ways of life must be respected and based on their free, prior, and informed consent and genuine and inclusive participation and partnership.
The guest speakers will be James Anaya, who has taught and written extensively on international human rights and issues concerning Indigenous peoples, and María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, an Ecuadorian scholar and diplomat who has held many leadership positions within the government of Ecuador, serving as minister of foreign affairs, minister of defense, and minister of cultural and natural heritage.
For more information about the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, visit https://www.un.org/en/observances/indigenous-day.
September 6 - Labour Day
Labour Day has been marked as a statutory public holiday in Canada on the first Monday in September since 1894. However, the origins of Labour Day in Canada can be traced back to numerous local demonstrations and celebrations in earlier decades.Such events assumed political significance in 1872, when an April labour demonstration in Toronto, in support of striking printers, led directly to the enactment of the Trade Unions Act, a law that confirmed the legality of unions.
World Suicide Prevention Day is recognized annually on September 10th by over 50 countries. The day offers people the opportunity to gain a greater awareness and understanding about suicide,
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention has put together a WSPD 2021 Toolkit with the goal of starting a movement of preventative action and in support of this year’s theme: Creating Hope Through Action.
The Department of National Defence provides information to further our knowledge on Suicide and Suicide Prevention in the Canadian Armed Forces.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has recently released Suicide Prevention in the Workplaceto help people to navigate through difficult conversations surrounding suicide, while providing tips for protecting the mental health of managers and employees. Also, they have worked collaboratively with the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, the Centre for Suicide Prevention and the Public Health Agency of Canadato develop Suicide Prevention Toolkits to support people who have been impacted by suicide.
If you are experiencing significant distress and feel you are not coping well, you may need additional support from a mental health professional or other health care professional. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 911 or visit an emergency department.
It is important you seek support if you need assistance. Other resources include the following:
- Local crisis centres.
- The Canada Suicide Prevention Service (1-833-456-4566)
- Kids Help Phone
- The Hope for Wellness Help Line
- 1-866-APPELLE (Quebec residents)
September 30 - National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
The residential school system separated Indigenous children from their families, language and culture. It was an act of genocide against the First Peoples of this land whose lives and futures were forever altered. It is a shameful part of Canada’s history that should never be forgotten, and the founders of Orange Shirt Day want to make sure that it never will be.
The day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration project in Williams Lake B.C. In 2013, survivors of the school gathered for a reunion to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families. One survivor, Phyllis Webstad, shared with everyone the story of her first day at the residential school when her new orange shirt, a gift from her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year-old girl.
September 30 was the date chosen because it represents the season when children were taken from their homes to begin their time at residential schools and it also gives teachers time to plan events in schools across the country. The event provides the opportunity to talk to children about the impacts of their experiences and to create space to talk about anti-bullying and anti-racism policies for the school year.
We encourage all of you to participate in the events that will be taking place in your respective communities and wear orange as a conversation-starter to engage others. Connect with survivors and let them know they are not alone in their healing journeys. Ensure that the path of reconciliation is a well-worn one.
Please click here to learn more about the history of Orange Shirt Day and to watch videos on the following:
- Phyllis Webstad - On Orange Shirt Day
- Canadian History and the Residential School System
- Honorable Murray Sinclair - Impact of Residential Schools
- The Vision of Kukpi7 Fred Robbins
October 11 - National Coming Out Day
October 11, National Coming Out Day, celebrates the anniversary of the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights that took place on October 11, 1987.
This day is used as an occasion for many in the LGBTQ2S+ community to celebrate their sexuality and gender identity. Some people come out for the first time, others share the stories of their own coming out or talk about their journey to recognizing their gender and sexuality.
The LGBTQ2S+ experience is unique to each individual and can also change or evolve over time. Someone who has been "out" for years might take October 11th as an opportunity to talk about newly discovered aspects of their queer reality.
Additionally, many members of the community will use this day to mark themselves as a safe person for others to discuss the complicated nature of gender and sex with. While not every person has the ability to come out, whether for reasons of personal safety or simply because they're not ready yet, October 11th will always be a time to celebrate who you are.
Some may celebrate publicly, others privately but all are equal and all are loved.
- Emily Craddock, PSAC BC Regional Council LGBTQ2+ Coordinator
November 20th: Trans Day of Remembrance
Trans Day of Remembrance is an annual observance held on November 20 to honour the trans, two-spirit and non-binary people who have lost their lives to transphobic violence, and those who continue to face violence and discrimination as they work for more just and inclusive communities.
While we mourn, the fight for justice for trans people continues. National data isn’t available but in Ontario we know that:
- Two-thirds of trans people have avoided public spaces or situations because they feared harassment
- 43% have attempted suicide
- 13% of trans workers have been fired for being trans, and another 15% were fired and believe it might be because they were trans
- 18% have been turned down for a job because they were trans, and another 32% suspect that this is why they were turned down
- 17% have declined a job they applied for and were offered, because of the lack of trans-positive and safe work environment
- 28% of trans workers could not get employment references with their current name or pronoun and 58% could not get academic transcripts with the correct name or sex designation
Trans, two-spirit and non-binary people are our co-workers, friends, family members and neighbours. On the Trans Day of Remembrance we mourn and grieve together – and recommit to end all violence against trans people.
- The Transgender People and Suicide fact sheet offers guidance on trans mental wellness at the individual and collective levels. It highlights the importance of supportive relationships, gender affirmation (acceptance of name and pronouns), and help seeking.
- The Rainbow Youth Health Forum report outlines strategies to create safer spaces for trans people in health-care settings.
- If you are a trans person who needs someone to talk to, please call the Trans Lifeline at 1-877-330-6366. It’s run by and for trans people.
December 3: International Day of Persons with Disabilities
December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and this year’s theme is “Fighting for rights in the post-COVID era.” Disability inclusion is an essential condition to upholding human rights, sustainable development, and peace and security. The commitment to realizing the rights of persons with disabilities is not only a matter of justice; it is an investment in a common future.
COVID-19 has not only deepened pre-existing inequalities, it has exposed the extent of exclusion and highlighted just how imperative it is to forward the cause of disability inclusion. Under normal circumstances persons with disabilities are less likely to access health care, education, employment, and to participate in their communities. Persons with disabilities are one of the most excluded groups in society and have been among the hardest hit in terms of fatalities from the global COVID crisis.
Disability inclusion will result in a COVID-19 response and recovery that better serves everyone and create systems more adept at responding to complex situations while reaching the furthest behind first.
- An estimated 46% of older people aged 60 years and over are people with disabilities.
- One in every five women is likely to experience disability in her life, and one in every ten children is a child with a disability.
- Of the one billion population of persons with disabilities, 80% live in developing countries
December 6: The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
December 6, 2021, marks the 32nd anniversary of the massacre when a man opened fire in a classroom at École Polytechnique in Montreal. This violently misogynistic and senseless murder of 14 women prompted Parliament to designate December 6 as The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Each December 6, we remember:
- Geneviève Bergeron
- Hélène Colgan
- Nathalie Croteau
- Barbara Daigneault
- Anne-Marie Edward
- Maud Haviernick
- Maryse Laganière
- Maryse Leclair
- Anne-Marie Lemay
- Sonia Pelletier
- Michèle Richard
- Annie St-Arneault
- Annie Turcotte
- Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz
Unfortunately gender-based violence not only continues in Canada, there has been a reported increase since the start of the pandemic. Not only is it important that we remember those who have experienced gender-based violence and those who have lost their lives to it, it is imperative that we all make an effort to educate ourselves, ensure the safety of survivors, and give them voice and a strong foundation so that they can rebuild their lives. Last but not least, we must speak up against violence and oppression.
We encourage everyone to attend to attend a memorial in person or virtually, and consider donating time, funds, and/or needed items to your local women’s shelter.
December 10: International Human Rights Day
On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and declared that Human Rights Day is to be observed annually on December 10th.
The UDHR is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being - regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. The document is available in more than 500 languages and is the most translated document in the world.
This year’s Human Rights Day theme is EQUALITY - Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights, and it relates to Article 1 of the UDHR – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
The principles of equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of human rights. This includes addressing and finding solutions for deep-rooted forms of discrimination that have affected the most vulnerable people in societies, including women and girls, indigenous peoples, people of African descent, LGBTQ2+ people, migrants and people with disabilities, among others.
If you would like to celebrate this day, consider doing any or all of the following:
- Stand up for human rights and show your support for equality on social media using the hashtags #StandUp4HumanRights #HumanRightsDay
- Watch a film from the Human Rights Playlist curated by the National Film Board of Canada.
- Learn more about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- Download the illustrated version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and share it with family.
- Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action (PDF version, 299 KB) and choose one that you will act on.
January 24 - International Day of Education
International Day of Education is observed each January 24th to celebrate the role of education for peace and development. This date was first recognized in 2019 by the United Nations as it was agreed that education is a human right that everyone should have access to. Inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all aids countries in achieving gender equality, as well as breaking the cycle of poverty that leaves millions of children, youth, and adults behind. Education is a catalyst that can empower people to combat poverty and inequality, help people make informed decisions, and empower vulnerable populations throughout the world.
This year’s International Day of Education will be a platform to showcase the most important transformations that have to be nurtured to realize everyone’s fundamental right to education and build a more sustainable, inclusive and peaceful futures. It will generate debate around how to strengthen education as a public endeavour and common good, how to steer the digital transformation, support teachers, safeguard the planet and unlock the potential in every person to contribute to collective well-being and our shared home.
February - Black History Month
Each February, Canadians are encouraged to participate in Black History Month festivities and events that honour the legacy of Black Canadians and their communities. They are a part of Canada’s history, cultural diversity, and contributed to the nation’s prosperity.
The theme for 2022 is February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day. To learn more about Black History Month, notable people their legacies and their triumphs, resources, and events, please note the following links:
March 8 - International Women's Day
International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, as well as a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
The campaign theme for International Women's Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. Whether it is deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead in both their personal lives and their careers. Knowing that bias exists isn't enough, which is why ensuring there is a level playing field is imperative.
Do not live someone else's life and someone else's idea of what womanhood is. Womanhood is you. - Viola Davis
Every woman's success should be an inspiration to another. We're strongest when we cheer each other on. - Serena Williams
Ways to celebrate today:
- Join tonight’s Kitchen Table Talk with Regional Coordinator, Karen Sutton, and Alternates, Lea Serron and Nielene Chand.
- Connect with important women in your life.
- Wear something purple as it is one of the colours of International Women’s Day, and it is also the international colour that symbolizes women.
- Donate feminine hygiene products to local women’s shelters.
- Read a book or watch a film about empowering women, such as Period. End of Sentence
Always remember that being a woman itself is a superpower, so own that! Celebrate your superpower and celebrate the superwomen in your life.
Happy International Women's Day!
March 21 - International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
On this day in 1960, police opened fire on a crowd of Black people in the township of Sharpeville, South Africa. These people were engaged in a peaceful demonstration protesting the apartheid “pass laws”, laws that denied the rights and freedoms of anyone not considered white.
The attack lasted for approximately two minutes, leaving 69 dead, and more than 180 injured, with most people shot in the back as they fled the violence. All of them shot simply because of the colour of their skin.
Apartheid laws classified all South Africans into one of four racial categories - “white/European”, “native/black”, “coloured” (people of “mixed race”, or “Indian/Asian”. With these “pass laws”, black South Africans were restricted as to where they could work or live.
In response to the massacre, countries around the world denounced the massacre, and on April 1, the United Nations (UN) Security Council passed a resolution that coined the killings and called for the South Africa to abandon its apartheid policy. One month later, the UN General Assembly declared apartheid a violation of the UN Charter, and six years later, as a direct result of the Sharpeville Massacre, the UN declared March 21 to be the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
March 22 - World Water Day
World Water Day has been observed each March 22nd since 1993. The day celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. It is about taking action to tackle the global water crisis. A core focus of World Water Day is to support the achievement of water and sanitation for all by 2030.
Canada has not legislated the right to water, but in 2012, it recognized the UN declaration on the human right to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Provincial and territorial regulations governing safe drinking water and sanitation, which operate to protect the health of most Canadian residents, do not extend to First Nations reserves. Other factors compounding the problem include insufficient and unpredictable funding, tainted source water, and lack of capacity and support for water system operators. As a result, water on many First Nations reserves is not safe.
Canada became a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1976. In June 2016, Human Rights Watch published a 92-page report that found that the Canadian government had failed to meet a range of international human rights obligations toward First Nations people and communities in Ontario by failing to remedy the severe water crisis.
Access to water is a human right under international law, and Canada’s Constitution Act of 1982 provides for “essential public services of reasonable quality.” This means that the authorities have an obligation—as well as a moral imperative—to uphold this right. It also empowers people to demand that their governments take concrete and deliberate steps to ensure access to safe and affordable water for the population.
This year’s theme for World Water Day is “Groundwater - Making the Invisible Visible”.
Groundwater is invisible, but its impact is visible everywhere.
Out of sight, under our feet, groundwater is a hidden treasure that enriches our lives.
Almost all of the liquid freshwater in the world is groundwater.
As climate change gets worse, groundwater will become more and more critical.
We need to work together to sustainably manage this precious resource.
Groundwater may be out of sight, but it must not be out of mind.
TAKE THE ONE MINUTE CHALLENGE!
Shoot a 60 second video and to tell… How does groundwater affect your life? Is there enough? Is it safe? What needs to be done to protect groundwater? Share your groundwater story!
Make your film…
- One minute max.
- Landscape orientation.
- Civil and truthful.
- In English or with English subtitles.
Don’t forget to include the hashtags #MyGroundwaterStory & #WorldWaterDay, upload to YouTube or Vimeo, and send the link to firstname.lastname@example.org
April 17 - Equality Day
It’s been exactly one year since we started the Equality Puzzle, and what a year it’s been! The puzzle was launched on April 17, 2021, in recognition of Equality Day, the anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which was signed in 1982 and came into effect on April 17, 1985.
Each puzzle piece has represented important human rights dates, such as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and National Coming Out Day. What’s essential to remember is that important human rights dates do not start and end with this puzzle, and unfortunately the fight for human rights is never-ending so it’s never too late to raise your voice and lend a hand.
In case you are looking for ideas of how or where to start, the Employment Equity Act (EEA) Review Consultation Process is currently open for public input until April 28, 2022. In order for the EEA to reflect changing demographics and current understandings of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, they need to hear from you - the underrepresented and their allies. If you would like more information or to participate, please click HERE.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We encourage you to recognize Equality Day and this milestone year every day because it’s not just something to celebrate, it’s something we all have a responsibility to protect.