Edmonton Human Rights Coalition marks 35 years of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

A human rights advocate who has challenged Toronto police carding practices hopes to impart his experiences to Edmonton activists as part of a series of local events to mark the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Edmonton Human Rights Coalition planned several events to run through the weekend, including a rally in Churchill Square, workshops on “activisim 101” and a walk to draw attention to unsolved homicides in Edmonton’s Somali community.

Toronto-based human rights advocate Knia Singh traveled to Edmonton to host a workshop on fighting back against racial profiling, and will participate in a roundtable discussion on race and policing.

Singh said he plans to share his own experience fighting against arbitrary stops and checks by police, and to help Edmontonians learn how to apply practices that helped “move the ball forward” in Toronto.

Among the messages he hopes to convey is the importance of opening up a dialogue with politicians and authorities, and about how to bridge the “disconnection” between activists and the establishment.

“The main thing is communication. It’s about understanding both sides,” Singh said.

Both events will be held Sunday at the Aroma Cafe–the workshop is scheduled for 9 a.m., and the roundtable for 1 p.m.

Organizer with the Edmonton Coalition for Human Rights Mahamad Accord said the Charter is a symbol of what Canada is all about, but that it’s only a document–he said it’s important for people to speak out to ensure the principles outlined in the Charter are being upheld.

“There is a gap between what the ideal is, and what were are seeing currently,” Accord said.

Accord said events being held over the weekend are intended to raise the “voice of the voiceless”, and fight for Canada to live up to the principles laid out in the Charter.

The Charter was adopted on April 17, 1982 during the tenure of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s government.



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