Where is the Freedom in Vietnam? The Story of Din Dang Din

On Monday April 7th 2014, the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights held a meeting to discuss the Freedom of Expression in Vietnam. Hoi Trinh, a Vietnam-Australian lawyer and also the Executive Director of VOICE, started the discussion by telling us a story about a Vietnamese teacher, Din Dang Din. Din was sentenced to serve […]

Where is the Freedom? A Look at Free Speech in Vietnam

On Monday April 7th 2014, the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights held a hearing to discuss the freedom of expression in Vietnam.  The Vietnamese human rights advocates visited Ottawa after attending Vietnam’s United Periodic Review (UPR) before the United Nations Human Rights Council during its session in Geneva from January 27 – February 7 […]

Remembering Zeenab Kassam

On March 20, 2014, Zeenab Kassam and Roshan Thomas, both Canadians volunteering in Afghanistan, were brutally gunned down by several Taliban. I will speak of Roshan Thomas at another time. That same day, Zeenab’s family in Calgary was informed about her murder. Zeenab Kassam was born in Zanzibar to an esteemed family. Her great grandfather […]

How ‘Serve and Protect’ Can Often Become ‘Fear and Distrust’ for Black Men and Women in Toronto

On March 3rd 2014 the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights held a meeting on the topic of visible minority youth and the criminal justice system. Since that meeting, young people from across the country have contacted us to share their experiences living as a visible minorities, and I want to share one of their […]

The Importance of Minority Women Role-Models for Young Women and Girls

When we look at young visible minorities in the criminal justice system, it is easy for the conversation to focus primarily on young males. This is not without reason: According to the Statistics Canada: “In 2008/2009, as in previous years, less than one quarter of completed court cases involved a female accused. Approximately 18% of […]

Are Visible Minority Youth Getting Adequate Access to Legal Aid?

One of the basic tenants of the Canadian justice system is the right to be represented by a lawyer. If an individual cannot afford a lawyer it falls upon the government to provide that service for its citizens. When an at risk visible minority youth comes into contact with the law they often cannot afford […]

Understanding Systemic Discrimination in Our Criminal Justice System – Part 2

The Government’s Response   Most Canadians regard the police as trusted personnel whose job it is to protect you. When my children were growing up I often told them that if they ever got lost they should go and find a police officer to help them. Unfortunately, many visible minority youth do not have such […]

Navroz Mubarak

On March 21, 2014, in Afghanistan, Diversity and Multiculturalism, Iran, Pluralism, by senjaffer

  “The breeze of Navroz is blowing from the Beloved’s quarter; seek solace from this breeze to brighten your heart.”- Hafez Navroz Mubarak, On this auspicious occasion of Navroz, I would like to wish you and your family Navroz Mubarak. Navroz is a festival which marks the first day of spring and the New Year. […]

Understanding Systemic Discrimination in Our Criminal Justice System – Part 1

Visible Minority Youth Need Our Support   On March 3, 2014 the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights met to discuss the issue of visible minority youth and the criminal justice system. As you may be aware, visible minority youth constitute a disproportionate amount of individuals involved in our criminal justice system. Emma Rhodes from […]

International Women’s Day 2014

Today, on International Women’s Day, I send my appreciation to all the women and men that work to promote equality in its entirety around the world. It is my continual privilege to have the opportunity to travel across our beautiful country and abroad, and to meet so many remarkable women that are working towards a […]