Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

December 07, 2009 16:20 ET

Ontario Federation of Labour Recognizes Human Rights Day: Celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 7, 2009) - "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." These are the first words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948.

The main objective of Human Rights Day 2009, according to Navi Pillay United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, "is to help promote discrimination-free societies and a world of equal treatment for all."

Freedom from discrimination and equal treatment for all are cornerstone foundations of the labour movement, says Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) executive vice-president Terry Downey. "The OFL has a long history of active involvement in human rights issues in our province. Human rights are an integral part of our work as evidenced by activities at our recently concluded biennial convention."

Downey noted that a major policy paper on rights and numerous policy resolutions were discussed and endorsed by the convention. Other examples of human rights-related programming at the convention included:

- From Crisis to Justice - Labour and Community Working Together for an
Equitable and Inclusive Economic Future: A human rights symposium
co-sponsored by the OFL and the Colour of Poverty Working Group.

- The OFL Human Rights Forum - the theme of which was "Will the Real
Canadian Please Stand Up!!!" where Suaad Hagi Mohamud shared her
experiences of dealing with Canadian and Kenyan policies and procedures
as she sought to return to Canada after visiting family members in Africa.

- UFCW Canada and the Agriculture Workers Alliance received the Bob Borch
Human Rights Award for their continuing work with and for the rights of
farm workers across Ontario.

- Malalai Joya, a Member of Parliament in Afghanistan spoke about what is
happening to the people of her homeland as they, cope with war, political
and social instability and the presence of thousands of foreign troops
including Canadians.

- High school students Serena and Shannen Kootstachin, from the
Attawapaskat First Nation, spoke to delegates of their experience of
becoming environmental refugees within Ontario as governmental
indifference forced them to leave their homes on the shores of
Hudson Bay.

Downey concluded, "The issues we dealt with at the OFL convention were a stark reminder that there is much work still to be done in our province, our country and our world to eradicate discrimination. The convention was also an opportunity for the labour movement to reaffirm our strong commitment to being an agent of change on these issues."

Contact Information

  • Ontario Federation of Labour
    Terry Downey
    Executive Vice-President
    (416) 578-3230
    Ontario Federation of Labour
    Mike Belmore
    Communications Department
    (416) 443-7658 or (905) 308-4300 (cellular)
    or 1-800-668-9138 x 658 (toll free)