The Commission hosted a national human rights symposium entitled “Beyond Labels” wanting to inspire a different conversation about human rights, while challenging our own thinking and conventions. For example, participants were asked to think about how labels play a role in the way we talk about human rights in Canada—in the way we divide up people’s rights into various grounds of discrimination. Participants were asked to think about whether labels lift up or put us down. Are labels empowering or are they holding us back? And ultimately, what do we need to put in place today so that human rights continue to evolve and reflect Canadian society into the future?

“We’re building a place where everyone can belong.”

Chief Commissioner Marie-Claude Landry, 2017

“Human rights aren’t pieces of a pie – you don’t run out by extending them to all.” –Randy Boissonnault
“We are all one.” –Chief Dr. Robert Joseph
From left to right: Tiq Milan and Kim Katrin Milan “I’m not fractions. I’m layers.” –Kim Milan
From left to right: John Packer, University of Ottawa; Shahina Siddiqui, Islamic Social Services Association; and Alex Neve, Amnesty International Canada. “At the heart of human rights is human dignity.” –Shahina Siddiqui

These new themes became a central part of the Commission’s public messaging in 2017. The result was an unprecedented year for the Commission in terms of public engagement, public discussion, and reaching new audiences. The Commission produced a Beyond Labels video series featuring human rights leaders and individuals sharing their views on whether labels play a positive or negative role. The response was incredible. People from across Canada took to social media to share their thoughts, to debate the ideas, to encourage others to join the dialogue. At the same time, the Commission also produced the 4040 Project—an anniversary video series that featured historic human rights milestones, current human rights issues in Canada, and interviews with influencers from across the human rights community.

“We are stronger through inclusiveness. Proud of how Canada is moving beyond labels.” –Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“Commitment Board” at the Commission’s 2017 Beyond Labels Human Rights Symposium