Justice and Public Safety
December 6, 2016
The following is being distributed at the request of the Human Rights Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador:
Human Rights Commission Announces Nominees for the 2016 Human Rights Award
Today, the Human Rights Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador announced nominees for the 2016 Human Rights Awards. The annual awards recognize individuals who have made and/or continue to make meaningful contributions to advancing and furthering human rights in the province.
This year's nominations came from community members, professional contacts and others who sought to recognize the nominees' efforts. The 2016 Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Award and Human Rights Champion recipients will be announced at a ceremony at Government House on Thursday, December 8. The timing of the presentation coincides with December 10, International Human Rights Day. Information on the nominees can be found in the backgrounder below.
"The selection committee was impressed and honoured to receive and review this year's nominations as
each nominee is impressive and well-deserving of such an honour. Newfoundland and Labrador residents
are advancing human rights throughout the province by advocating for positive change through their
work, volunteer efforts or other civic involvement. Their engagement shows exemplary interest in and
passion for giving a voice to important human rights causes in our communities."
- Remzi Cej, Chair, Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission
The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Award recipients will receive a specially-commissioned sculpture designed and carved by Wilson Semigak, a Labrador soapstone carver.
For more information on the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission, visit www.thinkhumanrights.ca .
- The annual Human Rights Awards recognize individuals who have made and/or continues to make a meaningful contribution to advancing and furthering human rights in the province.
- This year's nominations came from community members, professional contacts and others who sought to recognize the nominees' efforts.
- The 2016 Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Award and Human Rights Champion recipients will be announced at a ceremony at Government House on Thursday, December 8, which coincides with International Human Rights Day on December 10.
- The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Award recipient will receive a specially-commissioned sculpture, which was designed and carved by Wilson Semigak, Labrador soapstone carver.
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Remzi Cej, Chair
Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission
2016 Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Award Nominees
Sarah Anala is an Inuk elder and former resident of Nain. Sarah was nominated because of the lasting impact her efforts have had on the Indigenous People of Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly her actions to support female survivors of gender violence, supporting inmates transitioning to freedom and to recovery, to minimize recidivism in the community. A recipient of many honours, Sarah was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1997.
Justin Brake is an independent journalist, reporter, and editor for TheIndependent.ca, who lives on the traditional land of the Beothuk and Mi'kmaq on the Island's west coast. Justin was nominated because of his work in reporting on the developments at the Muskrat Falls site in Labrador, including conducting interviews and stories about the potential impacts of development on the culture, history, and livelihood on the lives of Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents of Labrador.
Mark Gruchy is a St. John's lawyer with a lived experience of mental illness. Mark is involved with the Canadian Mental Health Association, Newfoundland and Labrador Division, the Community Coalition for Mental Health, and was appointed to the Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council to advise government on key mental health matters, including the improvement of mental health services. Mark also speaks regularly about his own personal experiences of living with bipolar disorder and on the need to change attitudes and eliminate inequalities for those who live in mental health care and corrections facilities and our communities. Mark was nominated because of his significant commitment to making mental health a provincial priority.
Lorraine Hearn is one of the founding members of the Status of Women Central, which offers front line services to women in Grand-Falls Windsor. She is also the former Executive Director of the Violence Prevention South and Central, under the Violence Prevention Initiative. Lorraine was nominated because of her more than 30 years of human rights advocacy experience, particularly in the area of women's rights and advocacy against gender-based violence.
Gemma Hickey is a widely known St. John's-based activist and up-and-coming poet. Gemma has championed many causes, but is best known for co-leading the movement that legalized same-sex marriage and more recently, for walking across Newfoundland in support of survivors of clergy abuse. Gemma founded Pathways, an emerging agency that offers support to men and women who have experienced abuse within religious institutions and is Executive Director of For the Love of Learning, an arts-based group that works to improve the lives of at-risk youth. Gemma was nominated for their longstanding commitment to human rights protection, particularly for LGBTQ people in Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada, and for survivors of clergy abuse.
Bryan Johnson is a recognized leader in the Deaf Community and has served their needs in many ways, including as past-President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Deaf Sports Association and past-President of the Newfoundland Coordinated Council on Deafness. Bryan has represented Newfoundland and Labrador at the Canada Deaf Games and at the Deaf Olympics in Russia. Bryan was nominated because of his longstanding and passionate commitment to protecting the rights of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are Deaf.
Sheldon Pollett is the Executive Director of Choices for Youth, an organization that works with hundreds of at-risk youth throughout the province. Sheldon has worked tirelessly for the past 16 years to improve the lives of homeless and at-risk youth. His dream is to end youth homelessness in Canada. Sheldon has taken Choices for Youth, an organization that started out with one program in 1990 and transformed it into a leading youth-serving organization, with nine programs related to housing, employment, education and support. Sheldon was nominated because of his commitment to give resilient youth a voice in decision-making, while advocating for improved services and supports directed at them.
Kyle Rees is a St. John's lawyer who has advocated in many high-profile cases dealing with the decriminalization of doctor-assisted suicide and the rights of transgender people. Kyle has advanced these issues on a pro bono basis. Kyle was nominated because of his concern for people who are marginalized.
2016 12 06 3:10 p.m.