Justice and Public Safety
December 8, 2016
The following is being distributed at the request of the Human Rights Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador:
Human Rights Commission Announces Winner of 2016 Human Rights Awards
During a ceremony today at Government House in St. John's, the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission presented the 2016 Human Rights Award to Mark Gruchy.
The 2016 Human Rights Award presented today to coincide with December 10, International Human Rights Day, recognizes an individual who has made and/or continues to make a meaningful contribution to advancing and furthering human rights in Newfoundland and Labrador.
"Updates to our laws, attitudes and norms are frequently the outcome of advocacy efforts by individuals throughout the province whose motivation is a more respectful, inclusive society. The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Award recognizes the important contributions individuals throughout the province have made and continue to make in this regard. Whether criticizing the status quo, always challenging our institutions to do better or, offering up solutions premised on inclusion, these individuals are out-of-the-box thinkers motivated by a vision, courage and energy that many residents appreciate. The award shines a light on a person who has diligently worked to promote and protect human rights in this province, frequently going unnoticed, and rarely being acknowledged. Today, we thank and congratulate the people who make our province a better place to live through their heartfelt, passionate human rights activism and advocacy."
- Remzi Cej, Chair, Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission
Mark Gruchy is a lawyer in St. John's who has been a vocal advocate for greater public attention and support for mental health in Newfoundland and Labrador. He served as President of the Board of Directors of the Newfoundland and Labrador Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association for six years and has also previously served as the Newfoundland and Labrador representative on the Canadian Mental Health Association board. Mr. Gruchy is currently Co-Chair of the Community Coalition for Mental Health. He has also been appointed to the Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council to advise the Minister of Health and Community Services on improvements to mental health services in Newfoundland and Labrador. In addition to extensive professional and community experience in promoting mental health, Mr. Gruchy also has lived experiences of mental illness and has frequently spoken publicly about his journey.
"Human rights advocates are inspired by their passion for social justice and equality - they are unfazed by barriers and challenges, of which there are many. Mr. Gruchy's resolute commitment to promoting increased attention to and action on mental health supports in Newfoundland and Labrador is exemplary. He has frequently shared personal experiences of his own challenges in order to mobilize action on mental health in our province. In very personal and meaningful ways, Mr. Gruchy's determination to make life better for individuals facing mental health challenges in Newfoundland and Labrador has inspired a province-wide conversation on mental health and mobilization to increase the level of workplace, community and health care supports. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of Mr. Gruchy's advocacy has been a growing movement of people discussing mental health more openly."
- Mr. Cej
Also at today's ceremony, Gemma Hickey was named a Human Rights Champion. The commission grants this recognition to someone who has made a meaningful, lifelong contribution to human rights in Newfoundland and Labrador. The recipient is generally chosen by members of the selection committee.
Gemma 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 the island portion of the province 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 also 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.
"Gemma Hickey has transformed their memories of abuse and LGBTQ discrimination into an opportunity for building collective, positive change. Walking hundreds of kilometres throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, they engaged residents in a meaningful, important discussion on the need to support survivors of clergy abuse. For years, they advocated for equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada, through longstanding activism with LGBTQ rights organizations and community members. Their courage in championing human rights causes demonstrates Gemma's passion for a more respectful, inclusive Newfoundland and Labrador."
- Mr. Cej
The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission thanks all those who nominated individuals for the 2016 award. The Selection Committee's task was challenging in deciding this year's Human Rights Award and Human Rights Champion recipients.
- The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission presented the 2016 Human Rights Award to Mark Gruchy.
- Gemma Hickey was named a Human Rights Champion, which recognizes someone who has made a meaningful, lifelong contribution to human rights in Newfoundland and Labrador
- The 2016 Human Rights Awards presented this week to coincide with December 10, International Human Rights Day, recognizes individuals who have made and/or continue to make meaningful contributions to advancing and furthering human rights in the province.
- 30 -
|Remzi Cej, Chair
Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission
2016 12 08 4:30 p.m.