Human Rights Day 2023: Holding the line on humanity in troubled times
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) works to strengthen the social fabric of our society by supporting, enabling and convening community groups and organizations through our grants, services and network of public, research and community partners. Given our domestic mandate, our goal is to build bridges between all impacted communities and government decision-makers in Canada, while strengthening the capacity of racialized communities, religious minority groups and Indigenous people to carry out their own work to combat racism.
A significant proportion of our work also focuses on increasing awareness of the scope, nature and impact of hate crimes across Canada, developing national standards for training, reporting, better understanding the needs of victims, and developing thoughtful solutions to address and mitigate these crimes.
Some of this work takes place in the public arena. Of necessity, some of it must occur more quietly, enabling community members and leaders the space to face one another offline, to build connection as fellow humans in ways that are difficult to achieve in the hollow echo chambers of the internet.
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects every Canadian’s right to be treated equally under the law. The Charter guarantees broad equality rights and other fundamental rights such as the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.
Over the past few months, anti-Semitic, anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic hate crimes and incidents in Canada have skyrocketed, accompanied by the suppression and silencing of Palestinian voices amidst threats and fears of retribution for speaking out. During this time, we convened our Board of Directors to discuss our best course of action, and the ongoing importance, now more than ever, of continuing to centre the crucial long-term and longstanding work of repairing, building and nurturing relationships between and across communities in Canada.
While sometimes necessary, condemnation statements almost always leave people unfulfilled and wanting more. But wherever and however we do it, time and historical atrocities have repeatedly shown us that we must continue to stretch ourselves across difference, with an insistence on collaboration, good faith and perseverance in recognizing our common humanity, even in the face of unspeakable trauma, shattered trust and horrific acts of violence.
Hate thrives on fear of the other. But it gives way to hope when we make space for connection, commonality and compassion, and our commitment is to do precisely that. As we draw and hold the line on acts of hate, we will continue also to hold the line on humanity.