The loss of 176 people from six countries in the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS 752 in Teheran on January 10th has been felt around the world and especially in Canada. Nine of those who died were from BC, and two of them had links with the Vancouver Branch of the UN Association in Canada. Past-President, Greg Neumann – an educator with the Burnaby School Board and VP of the BC Social Studies Teachers Association, remembers them:
The Vancouver Branch of UNA Canada joins many around the world who are mourning the loss of 176 people in the shooting down last week of Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752 from Teheran to Kyiv. In particular we would like to acknowledge one of the nominees for the 2017 John Gibbard Award. Zeynab Asadi Lari and her brother who nominated her for the award, Mohammad Hossein Asadi Lari, both perished in the crash and we acknowledge the legacy of work they left behind in their much too short lifetimes.
Writing about his sister, Mohammad said, “She is passionate about youth leadership, student engagement and community work.” For those of us who knew her in Burnaby, this was already very evident as she had created both the Science and the UN Clubs at Alpha Secondary School, participated in the school district’s UN Connections Club as well as at University with her role in the STEM Fellowship founded by her brother. The Fellowship gave her the opportunity to work with the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and her passion for medicine led her to intern in Iran with the UN World Health Organization.
In nominating Zeynab for the John Gibbard Award, Mohammad wrote, “This diverse range of activities has shaped her as a caring and passionate individual who strives for a positive global and local impact on the next youth generation.” Undoubtedly, Zeynab Asadi Lari and her brother did have an impact on those around them during their short lives. We, along with their family members, can only imagine what great things they would have achieved had they not been on the doomed flight.
The Board and members of UNAC Vancouver extend their deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues on whom Zeynab and Mohammad left their mark.
The Vancouver Branch of the UN Association in Canada was pleased to partner with SFU in hosting the successful 6th annual Rosemary Brown Symposium on the evening of Thursday, September 26th.
A large public audience in the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue was able to listen and learn from the keynote speaker, Joy Johnson, Vice President, Research and International, SFU. Additionally, Marion Buller, as the recipient of the Rosemary Brown Award for Women, spoke on “Reclaiming Power and Place”. The theme of the evening was “Women & Social Justice”.
Thanks to Dariel Filwood for contributing the event photos.
Thank you to all of those who nominated a youth or youth group in the metro #Vancouver area working to make positive changes in the world globally or locally with a global focus. Nominations are now closed.
Each year on the occasion of United Nations Day, the United Nations Association of Canada, Vancouver Branch recognizes the work of a young student or group of students for their dedication and commitment to working towards a better world.
The John Gibbard Memorial Award is presented in memory of John Gibbard, who was a supporter of the League of Nations from its creation in 1919, in the wake of the First World War.
The Award is given to youth up to 25 years of age in recognition of their dedication and commitment to working for humanity and a better world locally or internationally.
Previous winners include Andrew Sheroubi, Red Cross Student Movement, Gurkiran Mann, founder of Youth Transforming Society (2016), Anjali Katta, CEO of Girlsco. (2015) and Ta’kaiya Blaney, indigenous and environmental activist/singer & songwriter (2014).
See our website for details and the nomination form: https://unavancouver.wordpress.com/john-gibbard-memorial-a…/
The Vancouver Branch of the UN Association in Canada held their Annual General Meeting to review their achievements of 2018. The branch welcomed long-time and new members and supportive guests as well as inducting Jeff Brooks to a co-President position alongside continuing co-President Deirdre Moore, and Rhiannon Dominy-Pergentile as Secretary. Dedicated board members Jessica Steele and Jessie Sunner (co-Vice Presidents), Rosio Godomar (Treasurer), George Somerwill (Past President), Greg Neumann (Past President) and Directors Karen Truscott, Melanie Walker, Greg Doudican, Jocelyn Pittel (Giving), and Shirin Yadegiri with Honorary Director Dr. Patsy George will continue to inspire and advocate for United Nations ideals and related events as board members in 2019-20.
The meeting took place inside the inspirational LuluLemon offices in Kitsilano. Thank you to Safeway and Starbucks; both companies donated refreshments for our meeting.
The Vancouver Branch is run entirely on volunteer efforts and is funded through your donations, memberships and partnerships. All members of the public who wish to see more public engagement on global issues are encouraged to become members. Visit unac.org, click the “Get Involved” tab, “How to Donate or Join”, then scroll down to “Become a Member”. Under “Messages” indicate you wish to join the Vancouver Branch. Additionally, you may “Donate” to by specifically indicating “Vancouver Branch”. We thank you for your support as always. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
The Vancouver Branch of the UN Association in Canada (UNAC-V) welcomes all local members to attend the Annual General Meeting taking place Monday, April 1st from 7pm until 8pm with refreshments at 6:45pm. The meeting will convene in the office space of Lululemon’s Vancouver headquarters located at 1818 Cornwall Avenue, Vancouver. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals provide the framework for the continued work we do in the areas of gender equality, peacekeeping, development, poverty reduction, and reducing inequalities to name a few. We would like to share with you these successes as well as the challenges we face moving forward.
We believe that the work of UNAC-V is very important: ensuring Canadians understand and support the goals and ideals of the United Nations.
The UN Association in Canada, Vancouver Branch, is a volunteer-run organization. All membership fees and donations go towards the hosting of public events and advocacy work. We welcome you to join our organization as a member; to become a member visit the website of our national organization and be sure to indicate under messages that you are joining the Vancouver Branch.
It is with great regret that UNAC Vancouver acknowledges that four members of the UNA Canada family died earlier this morning in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 en route from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Nairobi, Kenya. There were no survivors among the passengers or crew.
Our condolences, thoughts, and prayers are with the families of these four talented young Canadians. One was a UNAC staffer and the other three had volunteered in their communities. They were heading to Nairobi to represent Canada at a conference as part of Canada’s Service Corps.
UNA Canada CEO Kate White remembered the four for “their compassion, leadership, and dedication to making the world a better place.”
We will share more details as they become publicly available.
The views expressed by the authors on this page reflect their personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNA Canada.
The United Nations Association in Canada joins the world today in celebrating International Women’s Day, a holiday established to draw attention to the economic, political, social and cultural inequalities between women and men. The Socialist International first established this holiday at its 1910 meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark. On March 19th, 1911, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated with demonstrations and rallies in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. Thirty-four years later, at the San Francisco Conference, four women delegates helped establish what would become the largest intergovernmental organization ever, the United Nations. These founding women pushed for the inclusion of Article 8 in the Charter of the United Nations, i.e., for women’s equal opportunity to participate in the UN. Notable women within the U.N. system include Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (first female president of the General Assembly), Canada’s own Louise Frechette (the first Deputy Secretary-General), and the current President of the General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces.
Please join us for our annual Splane Lecture in Social Policy entitled, “What’s Canada’s Climate Plan? Fairness, Safety, Justice and Resiliency in a World on Fire”. This year’s lecture features noted environmental activist and author, Tzeporah Berman and takes place:
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
5:30 PM- 7:00 PM, followed by a reception with refreshments
*Venue: Asian Centre Auditorium, 1871 West Mall, Vancouver
The building is just steps away from the Liu Institute, located between C.K. Choi and Nitobe Gardens. The auditorium is located on the main floor. The main entrance to the Asian Centre is located on the east side of the building. Please click here for a map.
Please register: https://splane2019.eventbrite.ca
The lecture will explore the social policy implications of climate change and fossil fuel conflicts in Canada. In particular, the lecture will discuss the implications of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports for Canadian policy and explore what it will take to create a plan in Canada that aligns our policies and planning with global equity considerations, indigenous rights and the social policy implications of both mitigation and adaptation. Weaving stories from the frontlines of the pipeline campaigns, and her experiences meetings with the CEO’s of major oil companies and advising both the Alberta and BC governments on climate policy, Tzeporah will reflect on the pathway forward to a just and equitable approach to building resiliency and safety in Canada in the climate era.
Tzeporah Berman is a Canadian environmental activist, writer, and Adjunct Professor of York University, Faculty of Environmental Studies.
This event will be live streamed on SPPGA’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ubcSPPGA/
Hosted by: The UBC School of Social Work, the UBC School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, and the United Nations Association in Canada, Vancouver Branch
About the Splane Lecture: Each year, various partners co-organize a presentation in the field of Canadian public policy to honour the work of Dr. Richard Splane, Professor Emeritus at UBC’s School of Social Work. The lecture is held in the spirit of Article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
Applications are now open for the Green Spaces Programme!
DEADLINE APRIL 4th, 2019
Green Spaces is a wage-matching programme that works together with organizations in the sustainable development sector across the country to place talented students in positions that will elevate their knowledge, passion, and experience of working in Canada’s Green Economy.
Participants will undertake work-integrated learning placements across Canada with organizations in a variety of sectors, including private companies, non-profits, governments, Indigenous-based organizations, post-secondary institutions, and other associations.
UNDRIP does not yet have any force of international law but it is a significant step towards reconciliation, social justice and the upholding of human rights. Indigenous rights are human rights.
Tickets are now available for Think Global, Link Local 2019! This is a Networking Breakfast, hosted by the United Nations Association of Canada – Vancouver Branch. Students and recent graduates will get the opportunity to meet and learn from professionals in local charities, non-profit and civil society organizations. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to build connections and get to know some of these amazing organizations!
GRAB YOUR TICKETS HERE
On December 10th, 2018, UNAC-Vancouver and Community Legal Assistance Society hosted the annual celebration to commemorate the Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the presentation of the Renate Shearer Award.
This year the Renate Shearer Award was made to Chief Dr. Robert Joseph in recognition of his outstanding achievement in promoting respect for the human rights of Indigenous People in Canada and for his ongoing efforts towards reconciliation based on truth and healing.
The views expressed by the authors on this page reflect their personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNA Canada.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights celebrates its 70th birthday today, having been adopted as Resolution 217 by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10th in 1948. The primary goal of this ground-breaking document is to help prevent a repetition of the atrocities that occurred during World War Two. The committee assembled to develop this document was chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt and the first draft was written by the first Director of the United Nations Division of Human Rights, Canadian legal scholar and jurist John Humphrey. The Declaration grants all humans certain inalienable rights and promotes justice and human dignity. More specifically, it declares that all humans are equal regardless of their race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property or birth. The Declaration has been translated into 512 languages, making it the most-translated document in the world.
The United Nations Association in Canada – Vancouver Branch and the Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) are pleased to announce a Celebration to Commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Date: Monday, December 10, 2018
Location: Law Courts Inn Restaurant (4thFloor)
Address: 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver BC
Time: 5:30pm to 8pm
Admission by Donation. Hors-d’oeuvres, no-host bar and live music available.
This 30th Anniversary presentation of the Renate Shearer Award will be made to:
Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, OC, OBC in recognition of his outstanding achievements and transformative role in reconciliation work in British Columbia and in Canada.
As an Elder Witness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, his energy has gone towards achieving reconciliation and shifting the national consciousness to ultimately create harmony and a oneness between Canadians. Calls to Action 42 to 44 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission underline the need to utilize the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for a path forward to full reconciliation.
Each year, the Renate Shearer Award is presented to a person or organization who has made an outstanding contribution in the field of human rights. This award is a memorial to the life and work of Renate Shearer who was a champion of equality and dignity for all.
“ The views expressed by the authors on this page reflect their personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNA Canada.”
On November 29th the UN will once again be celebrating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The day was mandated by UN General Assembly Resolution 32/40 B of 1977. Since the UN was founded in 1945 – with the express aim of reducing or eliminating conflicts around the world – the Palestinian conflict, starting with the founding of Israel in 1948 has been one of the longest-lasting and most intractable conflicts which the UN has ever had to deal with. Much discussion and debate have taken place at the UN Security Council and General Assembly over the years and yet the Palestine matter is one of the issues about which the UN has been unable to reach an agreement since 1948.
On Wednesday, November 21st at 7pm the Vancouver Branch of the UN Association in Canada partnered with the Burnaby School District to host Dr. Joanna Ashworth and screen her documentary to an audience of UNAC-V members, and Burnaby students and parents. UNAC-V co-Vice President Jessica Steele provided opening remarks which can be read, in part, below.
We are honoured to have Dr. Joanna Ashworth, the filmmaker, joining us tonight for post film comments and a Q and A after the screening. We are gathered here on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples including the Squamish, the Musquem and the Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Indigenous Peoples have been taking care of this place since time out of mind and it is our responsibility as settlers, immigrants and new comers to Canada to continue to take care of these lands and waters.
You are invited to attend a free film event offered by the UN Association in Canada (UNAC-V) in partnership with the Burnaby School District. On Wednesday, November 21st from 6:45 pm to 9 pm, Dr. Joanna Ashworth will be in attendance at the screening of her recent documentary, “Women Bending the Curve on Climate Change” which will take place in the Centre for Dialogue in Byrne Creek Community School – 7777 – 18th Street in Burnaby.
What is it? Formerly called Active Citizens Social Enterprise, Active Citizens is a social leadership training programme designed to help young social innovators develop the soft skills required to better understand and address the needs of their communities, through the lens of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
What will you do?
Ottawa, October 18 2018: The United Nations Association in Canada (UNA-Canada) is pleased to announce that Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada has kindly accepted the request that she serve as UNA-Canada’s Honourary Patron.
UNAC Vancouver – John Gibbard Memorial Award Speech
Thank you all for inviting me to be part of this wonderful service.
I am very honoured and thankful to be here, receiving the John Gibbard Memorial Award. My name is Andrew Sheroubi and I am a recent graduate from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering and a minor in Entrepreneurship.
In recognition of the United Nations Day on the 24th October, UNAC-Vancouver Branch Presented Andrew Sheroubi with the John Gibbard Award.
October 21 – Thank you Way Kent for your always warm welcome to the Vancouver Branch of the UN Association of Canada. The connection between UNAC and the Unitarian Church goes back a long way and remains as strong as ever.
Marta Santos Pais provided the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture, hosted by the UBC Faculty of Education and the Janusz Korczak Association of Canada on September 13, 2018, in the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre, Jack Poole Hall. Her lecture is available below.
UNAC Vancouver acknowledges with sadness the death on Saturday 18th of August after a short illness, of the seventh UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. He was 80 years old.
Born in Ghana in 1938, Kofi Annan was educated in that country and in the US. He joined the United Nations, working in the New York mailroom, in the mid-sixties.
Photo Credit: greenpeace.org
In September of last year, Kenya joined the growing list of countries to ban plastic bags. This recent ban bars the production, sale and use of all polythene plastic bags, with a fine of up to $40,000 or four years imprisonment for failure to act in accordance with the law (1). This ban was imposed by the government after identifying that the toxins from plastic bags were impeding the water sources within the country. Kenya isn’t the only country to realize the destructive effects of plastic bags, Bangladesh was one of the first countries to enforce a ban after their plastic bags started blocking drainage systems, causing serious flooding across the country. In 2008, China also joined in banning thin plastic bags and began charging more for thicker ones.
UNAC Vancouver is pleased to announce that UNAC-V Past President and current Honorary Director of the branch, Ms. Patsy George, has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws (LL.D) by the University of British Columbia.
Patsy George is an internationally recognized former social worker and ongoing activist who has devoted her long career to fighting for social justice both within Canada and internationally. She is a recipient of the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia.
Please read and be inspired by Patsy’s acceptance speech, below.
UNA-Vancouver is pleased to be sponsoring the May 9th screening of The Cleaners, a documentary film about the unseen impact of outsourcing the ethics of social media on workers, democracy and the role of technology in our lives. The Wednesday, May 9th screening is part of the Justice Forum Series and will include a post-film discussion with a selected voice from the field.
Directed by Hans Block (Germany) and Mortiz Riesewieck (Brazil), their work starts with investigations and end up as striking, complex narrations. In The Cleaners, they have revealed the dark underbelly of our globalized social media culture and the people employed to determine what is unacceptable.
Tickets are on sale now: Buy Tickets.
Venues for screenings of this documentary include:
To see other films included in DOXA’s 2018 program: See Festival Schedule. DOXA runs from May 3rd to May 13th. Watch the trailer below, and join us on May 9th.
The Vancouver Branch of the UN Association in Canada (UNAC-V) welcomes all members of the local branch to attend the Annual General Meeting taking place Monday, April 9th from 7pm until 8pm with refreshments at 7pm. The meeting will convene at the Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSBC) building located at 2610 Victoria Drive in Vancouver near the Broadway Skytrain Station.
We believe that the work of UNAC-V is very important: ensuring Canadians understand and support the goals and ideals of the United Nations. Please continue to support our work in sharing UN goals and achievements with Canadians of all ages.
The Dr. Richard Splane Lecture on Social Policy is an annual free public lecture in celebration of the noted accomplishments of Dick Splane, former Director of the School of Social Work at UBC and UNA-Canada patron.
This year’s guest lecturer, Dr. David Piachaud, will speak on the topic of “Poverty, Basic Income, and Social Policy.” The talk will take place on Thursday, 15 March from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM at The Asian Centre, 1871 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2, located between the C.K. Choi building and Nitobe Gardens, a short walk from the Liu Institute. Please find a map here.
Event registration is required. Register here
At the time of this post, it has been revealed that only six people today have as much wealth as half of the global population. Inequality is getting worse in Western countries and is one of the leading concerns of public health as numerous studies over the past decade have concluded.
Work published by American Psychological Association (APA) shows that having low socioeconomic status increases the risk for mental illness. What this means is that poverty, housing unaffordability, and unemployment increases one’s chance of mental illness.
One of the greatest determinants of a person’s health is their income. Researchers Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson found that a 25-year gap exists in life expectancy between the rich and poor in the city of London. In 2014 in the UK, “the richest 10 percent [had] 850 times the wealth of the poorest 10 percent. As economic inequality has risen, so too has health inequality.”
Another study at the University of California, Davis shows that low socioeconomic status also increases the risk of heart disease.
Researchers at Washington University, St. Louis found out that poverty is linked to an increase in the risk of depression in children and also changes in brain connectivity. While another study based on 63 countries revealed that in the year 2009, around 46,000 suicides were related to unemployment. Therefore, regardless of one’s age group, inequality has shown to be linked to public health problems through one form or another.
What these works ultimately reveal is that rise in income and wealth inequality is a danger to public health and should be treated as such. From cardiovascular diseases to mental illnesses, inequality plays a vital role in a society in forming these health concerns.
3rd December: Celebration of People with Diverse Abilities
Today marks the worldwide celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly resolution 47/3 in 1992, to promote “an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life (1).” Persons with Disabilities’ as defined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ (CRPD) are “those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments that, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others (2).” According to the World Health Organization, over one billion people – about 15% of the world’s population – have some form of disability. Their optimal level of functioning and development is dependent on the dynamic interaction between their health conditions and social factors such as attitudes, institutions, and laws (3).
The theme guiding this year’s celebration is “Transformation towards a sustainable and resilient society for all’. The underlying principle of this theme is to ‘leave no one behind’ and empowers people with disabilities to be active contributors to society. This is based on transformative changes enumerated in the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. These goals are meant to address all areas of development and equality, and include disability components in several of them –aiming to strengthen the resilience of people with disability by providing full access to justice, health care services, infrastructure, inclusive education, accessible communities and sustainable economic growth through employment (4).
As we reflect on these goals, a question that comes to mind is, what is the contribution of our nation so far in achieving an inclusive and accessible society? As Canada’s first Minister dedicated to Persons with Disabilities, the Honorable Carla Qualtrough commented this year “Our country is a leader on the world stage, with a very robust human rights system. We’ve made great strides in fostering an inclusive society for people with disabilities. But there is still work to be done (5).” Moreover, this year, April 3rd and 4th marked a historical moment for Canadians. For the first time, the UN CRPD committee reviewed Canada’s implementation of the CRPD-an important tool for ensuring that people with disabilities have equal access to economic, cultural and social opportunities. This opportunity allowed Canada to underline the country’s progress, as well as discuss areas for improvement in fostering an inclusive and accessible society.
Now, moving forward, as we think of attaining the highest levels of an inclusive society- one that defends the rights and dignity of all citizens and empowers every person with disabilities to participate fully in all aspects of social, political, economic and cultural life- what can we do as responsible citizens? Well, as mentioned in the CRPD, individual citizens, the government, persons with disabilities and their representative organisations, academic institutions and the private sector need to work together to achieve the sustainable development goals but more importantly, the need of the hour is for all of us and not only the people in the disability community, to view issues through a disability lens, rather than observing specific issues as only issues for the people with disabilities. For example, the way we protect the rights of victims disabled by violence can improve how we take care of all citizens who are vulnerable to violence. Furthermore, improving services to persons with disabilities, can improve institutional capacity for all citizens, both now and into the future. Thus, as responsible citizens, I ask that we all take initiatives- not only today, but a 365 day challenge- to listen to fellow citizens with disabilities, and work with them in advancing solutions towards an inclusive society. Ultimately, diversity is the strength of our nation and by increasing the participation of people with all abilities, we will create a stronger Canada.
- https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/international-day-of-persons-with-disabilities-3-december/idpd2017.html (accessed 11/27/17)
- http://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/convention/convoptprot-e.pdf (accessed 11/27/17)
- https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/icd/icfoverview_finalforwho10sept.pdf (accessed 11/28/17)
- https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/about-us/sustainable-development-goals-sdgs-and-disability.html (accessed 11/28/17)
- http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/minister-qualtrough-on-canadas-appearance-before-the-un-committee-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities-617862713.html (accessed 11/29/17)
- image citation: http://www.un.org/en/events/disabilitiesday/(accessed 11/29/17)
Post written by blog writter Michelle Chakraborti
Michelle is a a 4th year PhD Candidate in the Experimental Medicine graduate program at the University of British Columbia. She is passionate about policy issues around child and family health. Michelle’s dissertation is grounded on the World Health Organization’s framework on functioning and disability (ICF-CY) that highlights family as the most salient environmental factor affecting child development. For her dissertation, Michelle evaluate’s BC-based physical activity programs for children with neurodevelopmental disorders as an avenue to support and strengthen families’ health. Michelle is also a volunteer with the Let’s Talk Science program at UBC, a national program geared towards engaging children in science. As a part of the UNA Vancouver content writing team, she writes about issues/policies on health related to the mandate of the World Health Organization. If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why? France! I’ve always wanted to visit France ever since I learned the language as a child. I admire the culture, architecture and love the food as well as I would be able to test my language skills!
A signing of the hymn, Love Will Guide Us, marked the beginning of the 2017 John Gibbard Award Ceremony, held on United Nations Day at the Unitarian Church in Vancouver. The United Nations Association of Canada, Vancouver branch (UNAC-V) awarded this year’s prize to Ms. Akanksha Thakur, an exeplary case of a young person living the values of the United Nations and making a positive contribution in the their community.
The John Gibbard Memorial Award is presented annually by the UNAC-V Canada in recognition and memory of John Gibbard who was a supporter of the League of Nations from its creation in 1919, in the wake of the First World War. When the league ceased to exist, John Gibbard continued to support the ideals upon which the league had been founded. After the formation of United Nations post war, John Gibbard became an active member of the UNAC and was dedicated to involving youth in the creation of a better world for all.
United Nations Day occurs each year on October 24th, and is the ideal time to take a moment to reflect on the principles and documents that are central to the ideals United Nations, including the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the other core treaties, conventions, protocols and covenants that together work to protect and promote the life, dignity, safety and freedom for all human beings.
This year’s award recipient, Ms Thakur is a recent graduate from Simon Fraser University (SFU). Ms Thakur has been instrumental in helping to build an inclusive curriculum and increased intercultural competence in SFU’s English as an additional language and career support programs. Thakur has also taught in public schools in Indonesia and was recently chosen to be Youth Ambassador for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. She is on Board of Directors of Pratham Education Foundation, an NGO dedicated to educating underprivileged children in India. On receiving the award, Akanksha shared with the audience her story of moving to Vancouver from Mumbai, India 10 years earlier and how after expereriencing a racically motivated incident, ultimately motivated her to take action to stop racial injustices from occuring. Ms Thakur believes in being an agent of change (as her achievements suggests), and in the importance of living a passionate and non-judgemental life. She thanked UNAC for recognising her accomplishments.
It is with these principles in mind that the UN Association in Canada, Vancouver branch operates; much of what we see in the efforts of Akanksha Thakur reflect the UNAC-V and John Gibbard’s ideals. Congratulations to Ms.Thakur on all of her accomplishments to date!
The event concluded with the hymn, We, the Peoples of The United Nations:
We, The Peoples of The United Nations,
Determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,
To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, the the equal rights of men and women, and of nations large and small,
To promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
And for these ends to practice tolerance and to live together in peace as good neighbours,
To unite our strength to maintain international peace and security,
To insure that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest,
To employ international machinery in the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all people,
Have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.
Thank you to the Unitarian Church and all those present at the event, and to Miss Thakur for her work in the Metro Vancouver area.
Post written by UNAC-V blog writer, Tania Arora.
Tania holds a B.com (Honours), from the University of Delhi, India and is currently pursuing a PGD in Financial Analysis at Douglas College. She has international experience in Russia & Singapore and national experience working with private firms including the Hindustan Times, The Indian Economist, The National Book Trust of India, Ministry of HRD & Make A Difference NGO. She was also associated with AIESEC in Delhi IIT & The Placement Cell of her college. A leader in creativity & innovation with strong leadership, corporate & organizational and communication skills, she is ready to set her feet firmly in Canada and to work with United Nations Association of Canada, Vancouver Branch.
Where Does Canada Rank?
On September 19th, former Conservative MP and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, referred to the Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna as a “climate Barbie” on Twitter (see the exchange here). McKenna responded by saying, “We need more women in politics [and] your sexist comments won’t stop us.” When a right-wing reporter used the same name-calling tactic, Mckenna again had to fight back (and she doesn’t regret it!) As these examples suggest, gender inequality still exists Canada, despite our reputation as one of the best countries in the world to live in. If you attended the UNA-V Day of the Girl Event last month in Burnaby, you will have already taken part in the important conversation that needs to be had on this topic.
When it comes to living standards, Canada ranks in the top ten globally based on the Human Development Index (HDI). In terms of seeing how progressive a country is socially, Canada ranks 6th in the world based on the Social Progress Index (SPI). According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), three of the top five cities in the world for livability are in Canada (Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary). However, when it comes to measuring and comparing gender inequality, Canada does not rank as high as it does in other categories. Comparing Iceland, the most “gender equal” country to Canada shows this.
For most of the last decade, Iceland has been ranked number one in Global Gender Gap Report, a report that the World Economic Forum publishes each year measuring gender equality of 144 countries based on combination of four categories (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and Political Empowerment).
In the 2016 report, Canada was ranked 35th globally with a score of 0.731 (0.000 meaning complete inequality and 1.000 meaning complete equality). In the new report for the year 2017, Canada moved up 19 places to rank 16th globally. The biggest improvement since last year was in the category of Political Empowerment (measures the gap between men and women in the parliamentary and ministry positions) where Canada moved up 29 places. However, if we consider all categories together and when we look at the data over the last twenty four years from wage gaps to promotions in the workplace, Canada has shown little improvement relative to other major industrialized countries. In fact, the highest ranking that Canada ever achieved since the publications of the report started in 2006, was in the same year where they ranked 14th globally. The Globe and Mail wrote an article regarding the persistent problem of gender inequality in Canada and it pointed out, “If the trend isn’t addressed, long-term drawbacks for our economy will be unavoidable”.
As we will see in the data presented in this article, much more has to be done in order to combat gender inequality and why a stronger progressive agenda needs to be put forward, similarly to what has happened in Iceland since 1975.
1975 Icelandic Women’s Strike
On October 24th, 1975 Icelandic women decided to go on strike and raise their concerns about unequal pay and labour rights for women in the country. They did not go to work that day and stopped all their normal daily activities. With ninety percent of women taking part in this protest, it meant that public services and industries such as the post offices, hospitals, schools, newspapers and more were either shut down or operated at reduced capacity. From facing relatively low wages to bias and discrimination in the workforce and in the political atmosphere, Icelandic women started a revolution that started a pathway for Iceland to become the most gender equal country in the world today. One of the very first examples of the success of the protests was when Vidís Finnbogadóttir became the first female president to be elected to office just five years later in 1980.
Icelandic women protesting in Reykjavík on October 24th, 1975, Photo: Loftur Ásgeirsson Vidís Finnbogadóttir, became the first female president of Iceland
Comparing Iceland’s Gender Inequality to that of Canada
Looking at the cost of child care in Iceland and Canada provides a better understanding of the differences between the two countries with regards to favourable policies for women.
On October of 2016, Global News published a report that compared child care costs across different provinces in Canada. Due to unique universal child care system of Quebec, cities in the province had the least expensive child care costs with an average of $2088 per year. Whereas in Manitoba, the second least expensive city, the cost would rise substantially to $7812 per year. According to OECD, in Canada, families pay close to 25% of their total income on child care and for single parents it goes above 30%. These numbers rank amongst the highest in the industrial world. Consequently, there are families and single parents, most notably women, who have to stay home and look after the children. With the lack of incentive to stay in the workforce, there is less income available for families or single parents and less opportunities for their children to prosper and participate both in school and also after school activities.
By comparison, in Iceland, the cost for both parents and single parents is just around 5% of total income.
Labour Force and Workplace
We see tangible results of gender inequality when we look at the workplace itself. Women in Canada outnumber men when it comes to higher education with close to 60% of postsecondary students in the country being female. This number is also the highest in any OECD country. Nevertheless, when it comes to promotion in the workplace, it’s men who dominate. In a report 2017 report by McKinsey Global Institute, ‘The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in Canada’, it was revealed that in Canada women are 30% less likely to be promoted from entry level to manager, 60% less likely to go from director to vice-president and only make 15% of CEO’s in the country.
In 2010 in Iceland, a law was passed that made it obligatory for companies to have at least 40% of either gender on their boards. This would not only allow for more women to enter and stay in the workforce but inspire the next generation of women to not limit their career choices and have an understanding that they deserve to be part of a work environment as much as any man.
According to OECD, in the year 2015, gender wage gap in Canada was near 20% (difference between full-time male and female median wages and then dividing the number by the male median wages) and was high when compared to other OECD countries and also higher than the OECD average as well. In 2005, the gender wage gap in Canada was near 21%, which means that improvements in this area has remained stagnant for the last decade. Based on the rate of improvement in gender wage gap in Canada over the last two decades, it will take close to fifty years for Canada to reach Iceland’s 2015 rate. Even though Iceland is below the OECD average by around 5%, they are still continuing to improve gender wage gap due to their robust political and cultural foundations regarding importance of gender equality in their country.
In early 2017, a legislature was put forward in Iceland’s parliament that will make it mandatory for companies, both private and public, to provide proof of unbiased wage pay practices to employees. Companies that are believed to show discrimination will ultimately be penalized.
When it comes to female participation rate in the workforce, Iceland leads the OECD countries with 80% females participating in the workforce. Canada has improved over the last few decades going from 45% in 1975 to around 60% today. This is actually a decent number for Canada since the OECD average is around 50%. Yet, the rate of improvement in gender inequality in Canada has unfortunately proven to be a slow one and over the last decade, Canada has continued to fall in the Global Gender Gap Index rankings, going from being 14th in the world in 2006 to 35th in 2016. Therefore, much work has to be done and still many unresolved matters need to be addressed including gender wage gaps, childcare costs, gender discrimination in the workplace, unpaid workers and more.
In 2015, Trudeau formed the first ever gender balanced cabinet in Canada with 15 out of 31 members being women (48%). This was a radical change since the cabinet of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, contained only 12 women out of 39 members (30%). The message here sent by the cabinet was simple. It was not about saying we need exactly 50% of each gender but rather about the fact that women are more than capable of holding positions that men have dominated in holding throughout the history of this country and that the cabinet is for all Canadians. In many cases it had been decades since a woman had been given the position. For example, since the position of chief of staff was created in 1987, 15 people have been given the position with 13 of them being men. This means that Katie Telford the current chief of staff, is only the second woman to have held the position of chief of staff.
The balanced cabinet was a positive step forward for Canada but as seen with the statistics and comparisons to other major industrialized countries, evidently more needs to be done. We can look at countries such as Iceland and examine the successful policies that they have come up with over the years while also look for and create a stronger innovative vision in order to combat gender inequality in our country because not only is it economically beneficial but more importantly, morally just.
Written By UNA Vancouver blogger, Sasan Fouladirad
Having recently received a Bachelor’s and a Masters in Economics from UBC and Queen’s University, two of the top three Economics departments in Canada, Sasan decided to spend one year outside of academia and be active in his community including writing for UNA Vancouver before returning to school for a third degree with a focus this time on Public Policy and International Affairs.
Having extensively followed the works of Economist Richard D. Wolff and Former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis since his time at UBC, Sasan started to realize how flawed the current global economic system is. As a result, economic injustice, global income and wealth inequality, global economic recessions and gender inequality are areas that Sasan has passion for and wants to continue learning more about. Sasan is currently a college instructor, teaching Mathematics and Business while also teaching students of Grades 1 to 12 at variety of other locations in Vancouver. Aside from his studies, Sasan has won three silver medals in Karate and three gold medals in Chess in the province of British Columbia and continues to train during his free time while also holding seminars throughout Vancouver for people who want to learn.
If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
From their cuisine to language to their sport, I love everything that Italy has to offer and one day hope to visit the country again.
When professional NFL football player, Colin Kaepernick, began supporting the Black Lives Matter movement by refusing to stand during the national anthems before games, he slowly ignited a wave of athlete activism in the United States. That movement exploded this fall in response to criticism from President Donald Trump when he called the athletes who knelt during the anthem “sons of bitches.” Athlete activism is far from a new development, with Muhammad Ali and Tommie Smith serving as prominent examples; however, in today’s divisive political climate and with the advent of social media, athletes have been provided with an unprecedented platform to express their political views. As a result, UNA-Vancouver in partnership with the UBC School of Kinesiology, the Centre for Sport and Sustainability, Basketball BC, and ViaSport BC are proud to bring you, “Athletes as Agents of Resistance and Change: Where are the Canadian Colin Kaepernicks?”
This panel event will explore questions in four main areas: (1) How have athletes historically participated in activism and resistance movements? (2) What are the implications of both participation and non-participation? (3) Where are the athlete activists in Canada? (4) How can coaches, parents, and athletes become more politically engaged if they choose to do so?
This is a FREE PUBLIC event; however, seating is limited so please RSVP via our Eventbrite page.
Wednesday, November 29th, 2017
5:30-7:00 pm – Panel event
7:00-8:00 pm – Reception
Liu Institute for Global Issues, UBC Point Grey Campus
Unceded and traditional Coast Salish territory of the Musqueam Peoples
Email questions to email@example.com
Watch the LIVESTREAM Re-cap [HERE]
Shireen Ahmed (@_shireenahmed_) is a writer, public speaker and sports activist who focuses on Muslim women, and the intersections of racism and misogyny in sports. Her work has been featured and discussed in various media outlets. She is part of the “Burn It All Down” feminist sports podcast team. When she isn’t watching soccer, she drinks coffee as tool of resistance. Shireen is currently working on her first book. She lives in Mississauga with her family and her cat.
Read Shireen’s Vice Sports critique about the Pittsburgh Penguin’s accepting the White House invitation [HERE].
Tracie Léost (@tracieleost) is a young Metis athlete and Indigenous activist. Now a scholarship student at the University of Regina, Tracie’s journey started when she took a stand and used her running shoes to give silence a voice. In August of 2015, Tracie ran 115 kilometres in just 4 days to raise money and awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada (MMIW). In 4 days, the MMIW Journey of Hope raised $6,101.00 for a local organization that helps the affected families and victims. Two years later, the MMIW Journey of Hope is a global conversation. Tracie is a role model to others as she travels the country sharing her story to end violence against women. Tracie is a We Day youth speaker and takes pride in her community. She is a coach and mentor for four hockey teams at Ehrlo Sport Venture. This program gives inner city and underprivileged youth with the opportunity to participate in sport at no cost. She spends her evenings at the outdoor hockey rink regardless of if it’s -40 or the middle of a blizzard. Tracie believes in the importance of providing youth with a safe place, and loves being a positive influence to those involved.
Tracie has been doubted most of her life enduring stereotypes as both Indigenous and female. Although she has been breaking barriers in her everyday life through sport and activism, Tracie wants to set an example for others. She wants to share her message with others so they know they are capable of anything and everything. As Tracie always says, “I’m just an ordinary kid who went out and chased my dreams regardless of what people said and believed I was capable of”.
Read more about Tracie’s activism [HERE].
Dr. Patricia Vertinsky is a Distinguished University Scholar and Professor of Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia. She is a social and cultural historian working across the fields of women’s and gender history with a special interest in physical culture, physical education and modern dance. Her work focuses on the study of normalizing disciplinary regimes in kinesiology, sport science and physical culture and the social, political, and scientific context in which they have been conceived and promoted. She is particularly interested in regimes of risk and the gendered body in relation to patterns of physical culture and globalization in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Dr. Vertinsky is an International Fellow of the American Academy of Kinesiology, Past-President of the North American Society of Sport History, and past Vice-President of the International Society for Physical Education and Sport History.
Elisabeth Walker-Young (@elisabethwy) is currently Manager of Programs at Canucks Autism Network. Her philosophy is to demystify the barriers, and lived experiences of those marginalized in society and therefore in sport to educate and equip sport leaders with tools, desire and awareness to address issues and affect change.
A Paralympian with 13 years on the Canadian Paralympic Swim Team, Elisabeth retired in 2005 having represented Canada at 4 Summer Paralympic Games from Barcelona 1992 through to Athens 2004. Throughout her swimming career, she broke numerous Canadian and World records, bringing home 6 Paralympic medals (3 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze) and was team captain for more than half of her career.
Elisabeth Walker-Young was Canada’s Assistant Chef de Mission for the London 2012 Paralympic Games and is Chef de Mission for the Canadian Team for the Toronto 2015 ParaPanAm Games. Bringing an athlete-centred perspective to this core leadership role, contributing to the planning and delivery of operations in Toronto, proudly supporting all members of Team Canada both on and off the field of play.
Her contribution to promoting the Paralympic Movement was enormous. In London, Walker-Young did hundreds of media interviews and also served as CTV’s English language commentator for the broadcasts of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and acted as a liaison with the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s (CPC) corporate and government partners during the Games. As a result of her role for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Elisabeth Walker-Young’s was named to the
Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport (CAAWS) Most Influential Women List and was also a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal, recognized as an athlete and builder.
Personally, Elisabeth, a newish mom, enjoys teaching spin classes and sharing her love and knowledge of an active healthy lifestyle with her class participants. Elisabeth loves to cook, read and be creative. A resident of North Vancouver, Elisabeth loves hiking, walking, running and snowshoeing in the trails with her husband Ian, her daughter and dog.
Courtney Szto (@courtneyszto) is a PhD candidate at SFU in the School of Communication and the Past-President of UNA-Vancouver. Her doctoral research explores the intersections of “race”, citizenship, and sport in Canada.
In partnership with
Each year, UNA-Vancouver recognizes an outstanding youth or youth group dedicated to achieving the goals of the United Nations. We are pleased to announce that the 2017 John Gibbard Memorial Award for Youth will be awarded to Akanksha Thakur.
Miss Thakur is a recent graduate from Simon Fraser University and was nominated by her supervisor Heather Williams, Language and Culture Curriculum Coordinator, from SFU’s Co-Operative Education department. Williams explains:
Akanksha demonstrates her passion for equity in many ways. She has taught internationally – at a public school in Indonesia; she was recently chosen to be a Youth Ambassador for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation; and is also on the Board of Directors of an NGO named Pratham that is dedicated to educating children in the slums in India.
The Gibbard Award presentation will take place Sunday October 22nd, 2017 at the Unitarian Church (949 49th Ave. W) at 11am (no RSVP needed). We invite the public to come celebrate United Nations Day and honour Miss Thakur for endeavouring to make the world a better and more peaceful place.
*Guest Post by UBC Student Ambassador, Karina Hsaio*
The Sustainable Development Agenda was created in 2016. This agenda introduced 17 different goals which are used as directives to eradicate global poverty. One of the crucial goals included is the need to achieve gender equality. International Day of the Girl is an important annual event that acknowledges the issue of gender inequality, promotes the empowerment of both women and men, and most importantly brings communities together.
Currently no country has successfully achieved gender equality; without the proper framework and policy implementations, women are made vulnerable to violence and discrimination. Countries also lack the relevant policies to prevent discrimination in the workplace, therefore women are still being treated unequally. Women worldwide earn less than men, for every dollar earned by men women earn 23 cents less. In politics, women represent a minority in national parliaments. When women’s contributions in the workplace are not valued equally, they are discouraged from entering the labour market or pursuing professional careers. Moreover, politics has long been viewed as a male profession; thus, without the participation of women, not only will this sector remain male dominated, policies related to the rights women will also lack the nuance necessary to achieve genuine equality.
Education is one tool we can use to eradicate poverty and the problem of sexual violence. Women easily fall into the cycle of poverty due to lack of education qualifications. Without the equivalent skillsets required by the labour market, these women have limited choices when it comes to employment, and usually end up in temporary jobs. Not only are temporary jobs unstable, they also pay lower wages. Allowing women to participate in the market through stable employment will increase labour efficiency in companies; it allows the economy of a country to grow faster and stronger. Most importantly, a high percentage of women will be lifted from poverty.
The inability to secure permanent employment is one of the main reasons that women continue to rely on their husbands for financial support. Additionally, if the wife is also a victim of domestic abuse she may decide to remain silent for fear of financial insecurity. Educated women are employable women, and employable women are independent women.
But the empowerment of women and girls is insufficient for socio-cultural change – men and boys also need to be part of the conversation. Communities need to acknowledge the fact that gender equality is a fundamental human right. Men and boys are important actors in process of achieving gender equality because gender equality affects everyone.
When men and women are viewed as equal, the labour market will have a greater chance of achieving equal pay. Healthy relationships between both genders can only be achieved if mutual respect is developed. It is important to remember that the push towards societal change in gender equality does not mean pinpointing a specific culprit. Numerous factors contribute to creation of gender inequality, and it is the responsibility of the whole community to correct gender stereotypes and unfair behavior.
Other than promoting gender equality through the discussions in UN general assembly and hosting annual events like International Day of the Girl, the United Nations also promotes gender equality at the local level. To enable relevant skill development, UN Women supports computer training programs in South Sudan and India. Economic empowerment is promoted by encouraging women to start their own businesses. For example, in a Guatemalan village, women who were part of the indigenous community were encouraged to participate in an all-female entrepreneurship project. Through education empowerment women were given the relevant skillsets needed to participate in local elections, thus enabling them to participate in decision making.
The issue of gender equality has received high levels of attention internationally, and the United Nations serves as a vital platform for leaders and organizations to continue this work. However, changes can only be achieved if local and international entities improve and work alongside each other. On the international level, countries need to recognize gender equality as a basic human right and promote changes within their own administrations. Individuals and local organizations need to work together and ensure durable changes at the local level. Communities need to embrace the values of gender equality by improving access to education and through policy implementations.
Did you know that mental health is included in the UN Sustainable Development Goals?
“Promoting mental health and well-being, and the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, are integral parts of the Sustainable Development Agenda to transform our world by 2030 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September 2015.” Learn more about the World Health Organization
One in five Canadians experience a mental health condition. Bmy the age of 40, 1 in 2 Canadians have or previously had a mental health condition.1 Mental health, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” 2 The mental health of a person fluctuates and at any point of time is affected by multiple stressors that may be social, psychological, and biological in nature. Mental health refers to striking a balance in all aspects of life: social, physical, spiritual, economic and mental. Reaching a balance is a learning process, it is not a one size fits all approach, instead it is unique for every individual. Our challenge is staying mentally healthy by maintaining the balance, which is easier said than done. While physical health is easy to measure and discussed openly, mental health is under the surface and often not discussed.. Every year on October 10, the WHO celebrates World Mental Health Day. This day is an opportunity for us to reflect on our own mental health and think about ways we can contribute towards supporting people in our community who are living with mental illnesses, as well as call attention to a timely mental health issue. The theme for this year’s issue is “Mental Health in the Workplace” 3
During our lives, we spend a significant amount of time at our workplace. Our experience at our there is one of the aspects that affects our mental well-being. Unemployment is a recognized risk factor while employment or returning to work is a protective factor against mental health problems. Conversely, employment in a negative working environment such as a workplace where individuals face bullying or psychosocial harassment adversely affect the employee’s’ mental health, which may be accountable for depression and anxiety, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism, lost productivity and a high turnover rate. In fact, mental health is seldomly considered as a key aspect of an employee’s’ health, yet, the WHO highlights depression as the leading cause of disability worldwide. A study by WHO researchers estimated that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity. Many of these illnesses can be treated, but access to treatment is often difficult, and stigma may prevent people from obtaining services even when they are available.4
As a healthy workplace benefits both workers and employers, therefore, the question arises, how do we create a healthy workplace? The answer is easier said than done, that is, the onus lies on both the workplace management team and its employees’ in being proactive and leading by example. However, it seems that this is seldom the case. Consequently, in July this year, an utterly empathetic response from a chief executive to his employee who was taking a break to cope with mental health issues took social media by storm. “It prompted thousands of retweets, garnered dozens of headlines when an employee who had written that she suffers from anxiety and depression, wrote an email to her colleagues saying she’d be out for a couple of days to “focus on my mental health.” Her chief executive replied by thanking her, saying every time she sends an email like that “I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health” and “you are an example to us all, and help us cut through the stigma.” 5 This sets a strong example of the meaning of a healthy workplace, illustrating the willingness of the employee to be open about her mental health as well as the employer positively acknowledging his employee’s needs and reminding his colleagues to do the same. This teaches us that we need to be open and acknowledge each other’s mental health needs in order to foster mental well-being in the workplace, which will help to decrease negative attitudes and discrimination and empower individuals to promote mental health and dignity for all.
Michelle Chakraborti is a a 4th year PhD Candidate in the Experimental Medicine graduate program at the University of British Columbia. She is passionate about policy issues around child and family health. My dissertation is grounded on the World Health Organization’s framework on functioning and disability (ICF-CY) that highlights family as the most salient environmental factor affecting child development. For her dissertation, Michelle evaluate’s BC-based physical activity programs for children with neurodevelopmental disorders as an avenue to support and strengthen families’ health. Michelle is also a volunteer with the Let’s Talk Science program at UBC, a national program geared towards engaging children in science. As a part of the UNA Vancouver content writing team, she writes about issues/policies on health related to the mandate of the World Health Organization. If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why? France! I’ve always wanted to visit France ever since I learned the language as a child. I admire the culture, architecture and love the food as well as I would be able to test my language skills!
(1) Smetanin et al. (2011). The life and economic impact of major mental illnesses in Canada: 2011-2041. Prepared for the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Toronto: RiskAnalytica.
(2) http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/mental_health/en/ (accessed October 3, 2017)
(4) Report by the World Mental Health Federation on World Mental Health Day 2017 (https://www.wfmh.global/wmh-day/wmhd-theme-2017/; accessed October 5, 2017)
By: Naomi Shi (bio below), UNA blog writer
Disability, the theme of the upcoming Rosemary Brown Conference this year, is experienced by more than 19% of the world population. In Canada alone, more than 5.3 million people are affected by some form disability. Discrimination towards persons with disabilities is ingrained in our culture and is still immensely relevant to the international community. Ableism conceptualizes the belief that people with disabilities are inferior, and that having a disability is a defect rather than a dimension of difference. The interpretation of difference as a defect is the root of ableist acts, as it fosters the culture of discrimination in society.
However, ableism is more blatantly and commonly integrated into our culture, albeit the great anti-discrimination progress that is repeatedly depicted. Many nowadays fail to even recognize ableism as legitimate and predominant discrimination. Accessibility, or the lack thereof, is one of the most obvious forms of discrimination people with disabilities face. Disabled people are still to access places and services only open to their able-bodied counterparts. How often have you seen wheelchair ramps at the back of a building? Is that something you even notice? Ableist terms have also become naturalized in the English language, with many people carelessly using pejoratives (and often without knowing the harmful connotation behind these words) in casual conversations, harmfully promoting the prejudicial treatment of people with disabilities in daily life.
Although ableism is a significant and universal detriment, it is consistently marginalized and disregarded as a pressing and relevant social justice concern. Framed as lacking, undesirable, and laced with pity and stigma, the wrongful perception of people who have disabilities and the blind integration of ableist acts in society contributes to the widespread assumption that disability does not constitute a serious category of oppression. While indignation with issues such as racism and sexism is heavily circulated and publicized by social justice activists, it contrasts their chronic disregard and indifference towards ableism. This normalizes the marginalization of disability, and it further undervalues the weight of ableism when compared to other forms of discrimination.
The winner of the Rosemary Brown Award for Women this year has helped change how society views people with mental disabilities. Dr Dana Brynelsen is a stalwart advocate for the rights of children with learning disorders. Pioneering the Infant Development Programs of BC since their founding from 1975 to 2009, Brynelsen has dedicated her efforts to promote inclusion at a time when isolation of children with developmental disabilities was common. The program she fronted has ensured over 100,000 families had the support they needed to help these children realize their full potential. As the recipient of numerous awards for her work in the areas of early childhood intervention, Dr. Brynelsen has been recognized for her unyielding commitment to the well-being of infants and families across BC. She received the Order of British Columbia – the province’s most prestigious honour – in 2014.
The call for disability justice is urgent and pressing. Dr. Dana Brynelsen’s persistent work in the domain of early childhood intervention exhibits how the fostering of a culture based on inclusion, rather than segregation, has positively altered society’s perception of disability. Through her achievements in her field, she shows how disability justice has the power to not only change the way how people perceive their culture and its regards to diversity and difference but also to fundamentally change the way social change is enacted. It is vital that disability, and ableism, be considered equally amongst other issues of social justice.
The fourth annual Rosemary Brown Conference will be held on September 23rd at Asia Pacific Hall at the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University and will include discussions on gender, sexuality, and disability.
Annual Rosemary Brown Award for Women, 2017 Recipient, Dr. Dana Brynelson
Dana Brynelsen is the former Provincial Advisor for the Infant Development Program of BC and worked in that capacity from 1975 until 2009. In that role she supported the development of 53 Infant Programs in communities across BC and encouraged the development of a parallel network of Aboriginal Infant Development Programs. Since their inception Infant Development Programs in BC have served over 100,000 families. She has advised on the development, operation and evaluation of early childhood intervention services in BC, Canada, England and New Zealand. Dana has a particular interest in Family Centred Care and has presented on this topic at many conferences. She worked with colleagues and faculty at UBC to establish the Certificate and Diploma in Infant Development at UBC a first in Canada, and was successful in having the York Certificate in Infant Mental Health offered through UBC. She collaborated in developing the course work on disability for the Family Resource Program Certificate. Dana has published in the field, served on the editorial board of Infants and Young Children and is past president of Parent Child Mother Goose, a national organization that provides training and sets the policies for this attachment based program. She is a founding member of the BCFASD Resource Society and a former Director of the Society of Children and Youth. She was involved in the development of the Early Hearing Program in BC, which provides universal newborn hearing screening and leads to early language intervention for all infants identified with hearing loss. Dana worked with colleagues to establish the Early Years Conference through UBC and the International FASD Conference. She is the recipient of many awards for her work in the areas of early childhood intervention. These include; Year of the Child and Family Award (1979) BCACL Partnership Award (1984), Winston Churchill Fellowship Award (1987), YWCA Woman of Distinction Award (1997), UBC Doctor of Laws (2004), Federation of Community Services Award for Excellence (2009) , BC Family Resource Programs Outstanding Achievement Award (2009), BC Council for Families Distinguished Service to Families Award (2010), Order of BC (2014). Vancouver Island University Doctor of Laws (2016). Although retired, she continues to work in a voluntary capacity. Her current project involves advocating for changes to the court system to ensure better outcomes for our most vulnerable citizens, infants and young children in care or at risk for out of home care and their families.
Author: Stephanie Ortiz
I had the pleasure of interviewing Doug Lau over the phone as I overlooked Vancouver’s smoky skyline following the BC Day long weekend. We chatted about his recent experience in Nairobi working as a Junior Professional Consultant (JPC) through the United Nations Association of Canada. Doug was hired as a JPC by UN-Habitat, an agency that promotes sustainable urban and human development as well as adequate shelter for all. Doug expressed that the opportunities felt endless in this lively East African city as he made his way to work every day. Something that struck Doug about Nairobi was the city’s vibrancy and the optimism that people had about the future. We discussed what it was like working at the UN office in Nairobi, his responsibilities as a JPC with UN-Habitat, and the challenges of working abroad.
During his six-month contract term, Doug discovered that the UN office in Nairobi -which has roughly 5,000 employees from all over the world- was “quite an exciting place to work.” Doug’s office was located in a zero emissions building on campus and the UN Nairobi campus was recounted as being a forward thinking place, with an open-space concept, and indoor gardens –features that align with the UN-habitat mandate. The overall campus was illustrated as having preserved gardens, lined with elegant trees, and manicured grass and described as an incredible and lively place.”You could feel that people around you were very capable and motivated,” Doug recalled.
As a JPC, Doug carried two major responsibilities. The first being monitoring and evaluating programs. He developed systems to track performance, assessed the progress of those involved, gave feedback, and then provided and guided the necessary adaptations. His second responsibility comprised of reporting essential information to stakeholders and donors. “One of the coolest parts of working with the UN is working with diverse partners.” This experience gave Doug the opportunity to collaborate with other different units and external agencies based in Nairobi. This allowed him to work with other local governments, delegations from foreign diplomatic missions, community groups, women’s groups, youth groups, and more.
However, relocating and working somewhere unfamiliar often brings along a string of challenges. Doug confessed, “it’s always difficult to adjust to working in a new city. Not only do you need to learn the new office, practices, and procedures,” you inevitably have to combine it with figuring out the transportation system, where to get groceries, and so on. Doug added, “but it becomes very rewarding as the months go on.”
When asked whether he would recommend this type of work experience to others, he responded, “Absolutely. This has been an incredibly formative experience, not just in my professional career but for my personal development. It’s an incredible opportunity and privilege to work in this field. Development work hasn’t been around long enough but it’s a great field to work in and very rewarding. It’s Important to understand how competitive this field is and how important the work you’re doing is. You’re competing from a pool of candidates from all corners of the world and it should be approached as such. It’s tough, something that needs to be taken seriously. Work hard and don’t be discouraged if you don’t get in right away. It can take time. And just remember that not all citizens of all countries have the same opportunities.”
If you’re considering a career in development, the 2017 Hiring Trends Report: The Jobseeker’s Guide to Development Recruiting is well worth a read. If you’d like to participate in the UNA Canada’s International Development and Diplomacy Internship Program, you can visit the Facebook page for more information. The deadline to apply is September 5th, 2017.
The United Nations Association in Canada (Vancouver Branch) was pleased to sponsor a film at the 2017 DOXA Documentary Film Festival.
Photo of UNA Vancouver taken by Tara Flynn Development Manager, Doxa Documentary Film Festival
The screening of “Complicit” was held at VIFF’s VanCity Theatre on Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. The screening was well-attended, and the audience was clearly engaged in the issues presented in the film.
One of the highlights of the 2017 edition of the DOXA Festival is the Spotlight on Troublemakers, which celebrates courageous dissent in difficult circumstances. Our sponsored film provides an incredible first-hand look at the frontlines of China’s labour movement. It shines a light on the global electronic manufacturing industry in China, where 90% of the world’s consumer electronics are produced.
The featured activists are committed to taking on some of the world’s largest corporations, and they speak openly about abysmal working conditions. Young people work in buildings with poor ventilation, and handle chemicals which have been banned in industrialized Western countries for more than 40 years. Corruption and obstruction run deep, as workers struggle to deal with diagnosis and treatment of occupational diseases, many leading to serious illness or death
“Complicit” was also included in the festival’s Justice Forum, so it was followed by a thought-provoking question and answer session led by two guest speakers. Cathy Walker is the former National Health and Safety Director of the CAW (Canadian Auto Workers Union) now UNIFOR. She has worked on China-related projects for the Canadian Labour Congress, the Vancouver & District Labour Council, and the BC Federation of Labour. Fiona Koza is a Business and Human Rights Campaigner at Amnesty International Canada. She works to hold companies accountable for human rights abuses and to ensure access to remedies for people who have been harmed.
The afternoon concluded with informal discussions with audience members who visited the UNAC information table in the lobby of the theatre.
We extend our thanks to our two guest speakers, and to all DOXA staff and volunteers for making this year’s festival such a success. We look forward to working together again next year!
UNA-Vancouver is sponsoring the May 6th screening of Complicit, a documentary film about the detrimental health effects involved in the global electronics manufacturing industry in China. Complicit is part of the festival’s Justice Forum; thus, it will host a Q&A after the screening. Directed by Heather White and Lynn Zhang, they aim:
to shine a light on what it’s really like for Foxconn factory workers, who produce devices for Apple and other companies.
The film, which was mostly shot undercover, follows Yi Yeting, a former Foxconn employee who was diagnosed with leukemia at the young age of 24. The cause? Benzene poisoning from a cleaning agent that was used while making the iPhone and iPad. Apple banned the substance, along with n-hexane, from its assembly lines back in 2014, following reports that it was leading to leukemia among factory workers. But Yeting is still fighting for Foxconn and other companies to acknowledge benzene poisoning and other issues.
Complicit debuted this past March at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London.
Tickets for the May 6th, 2017 screening at VanCity Theatre @ 2pm are on sale through DOXA. Ticket prices range from $11-$15.
To see other films included in DOXA’s 2017 program click here. DOXA runs from May 4th to May 14th.
*Notice from Ottawa head office*
Canada Green Corps (CGC) is UNA-Canada’s innovative new youth employment programme designed to bridge talented, yet un-and underemployed, Canadian youth to meaningful employment to ignite Canada’s green economy. CGC participants will undertake four or six-month work-integrated learning placements with various companies, governments, associations, universities and civil society organizations in our cities of focus: Vancouver, Whitehorse, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax. CGC participants may assist their employer organizations and communities in reducing their environmental footprint and increasing overall sustainability. Additionally, CGC participants may engage their communities over the course of their placements to identify and address environmental “quick wins” in their communities and workplaces.
Green Corps will officially be extended until Sept 30th, 2017.
UNAC is delighted to be able to provide more opportunities for talented, yet un- or underemployed youth across Canada to gain valuable professional experience through Green Corps. We are also identifying new employer organizations, so please feel free to share this information with potential employers, and youth, in your network.
Click the hyperlinks to find the Checklist for Securing Placements and Finalizing Partnership and the Green Corps flyer.
The search for new Employer partners is ongoing but note that the deadline for youth applications is Monday, March 27th.
Potential youth participants can apply through: https://unpp.wufoo.com/forms/w1vish6y1w0cgf1/
Interested employer organizations should contact Green Corps’ Project Officers, Kanchan Muti (for placements west of Ontario and the Yukon) or Julie-Pier Nadeau (placements in Ontario and east), who are cc’d here. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call Scott Bohachyk at (613) 232-5751 ext 253.
We are proud to be welcoming a high-profile UN official as a speaker who will open our Annual General Meeting. Joining our membership for this unique and relevant event will be members of the public and officials, parents and students of the Burnaby School District.
Marcia Kran’s background includes a 35-year career as an international lawyer, senior manager roles in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Development Programme, and work as a professor of human rights law at UBC. Ms. Kran was elected Canada’s First UN Human Rights Committee member in over a decade. Committee members are independent experts who monitor implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a key UN treaty. The committee is the place where contentious human rights issues are brought forward, and recommendations are made in order to meet the international standards put in place by the UN.
Please join us on April 3rd, 2017 at:
Byrne Creek Community School’s Centre for Dialogue
7777-18th Street, Burnaby (8-minute walk south from Edmonds Skytrain Station)
6:30 – 6:45 UNAC Annual General Meeting
7:00 – 8:00 Marcia Kran keynote and Q&A
8:00 – 8:30 Reception – Coffee/tea and refreshments provided
This post was written by website writer, Denea Bascombe.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017. It was founded on August 8th, 1967 to promote regional economic, political, and security cooperation by the founding fathers of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Today, it is comprised of ten members, with the original five plus Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. The role of ASEAN has changed over the fifty years of its existence, but its adherence to the belief in regionalism has maintained consistent. A 1992 article by S. Rajaratnam in Singapore (written when the North America Free Trade Area (NAFTA) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) were still new regional approaches) highlighted that the counter-pressures of globalism had made regionalism more difficult to maintain, but optimism existed in that ASEAN was beginning to reflect some of the successes of the more developed European Community (EC). ASEAN is working towards increased security in the region, and maintains the reputation of managing cohesive internal relations and positive international operations.
Today, ASEAN holds regional ground, especially where the participation of the United States in international trade and its affected political influence creates increased uncertainty towards globalism. The uncertainty of the United States’ commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) under a Trump administration may further develop existing sentiments regarding the benefits of Asia-Pacific foreign policy that is less reliant on the United States. This may only be increased by the fact that the Philippines holds the position of 2017 ASEAN Chair; President Rodrigo Duterte has been distancing his country from the United States, including its military cooperation. With the Philippines’ lost position as the United States’ closest ally in the ASEAN region, the role of the United States in Southeast Asian policy, especially over the long term, is increasingly uncertain. This is made only the more complex by the United States’ unclear foreign policy position towards China in early 2017.
Though Duterte may be unpredictable in some aspects of his leadership, including some activities that call in to question the existence of human rights violations, in other aspects, his policies have provided stability for the region. This includes the surging economic growth in the Philippines, which he strives to expand throughout ASEAN due to his conviction in regionalism, and bettering relations with China, even with the existence of the South China/ West Philippine Sea dispute. Prior to Duterte, ASEAN had not seen such a clear pivot away from the United States, a country providing military and other support, and towards China. However, this could be for the betterment of ASEAN’s ability to produce a clear consensus on issues affecting ASEAN and China. A potential conflict to be aware of, though one that is out of the scope of this editorial, is the potential for some of Duterte’s controversial national policies, especially his insistent drug policies, to cause rifts among ASEAN member states. Still, keeping issues separated, this is unlikely to affect ASEAN’s external relations.
Unfortunately, Duterte’s turn away from the United States is one that the Asia Foundation would highly advise against based on its 2016 report titled Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia: The Future of the Rebalance. The report highlights, among other recommendations, that the United States must “maintain a robust, sustained, and consistent American presence in the Asia-Pacific”; “revive the TPP”; “continue to play a leading role in non-traditional security” and “continue to project American ‘soft power’”. This poses questions as to whether the Philippines’ perception of a United States presence reflects the opinions of other ASEAN member states.
ASEAN’s role in 2017 will largely dictate the extent to which the United States maintains leadership in Asia and internationally. It will also maintain a large influence over ASEAN cooperation with China, and the prospective of heightened or minimized tensions in the South China/West Philippine Sea. Both relationships may be considered of equal importance to ASEAN due to the economic, political, and security implications. However, with the Philippines holding the 2017 ASEAN Chair and its recent statements against United States involvement, it is unlikely that both relationships will be equally pursued. Perhaps part of ASEAN success in this area will depend on whether the United States maintains a balanced relationship with China, and whether there is any reason why ASEAN would be unable to separately and equally pursue their bilateral relationships with the United States and China.
Kaidie Williams is an International Relations and Economics student at UBC, hailing from the small island state of Dominica. Her interests include public speaking, connecting with people and reading economics-related magazines. Kaidie is deeply involved in many aspects of campus. She is President of the Model United Nations Student Association (MUNSA), Vice Chair of the UBC Vancouver Senate, Senior Advisor for Residence Life, and Student Coordinator of the Caribbean Returning Nationals Foundation. As part of UBC’s International Service Learning program, she recently completed an internship where she worked on implementing UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a development organization. Verna Yam (in bold) interviewed Kaidie Williams on behalf of UNAC-V.
How did you learn about MUN and start getting involved?
During high school, I went to an event promoting UBC, where they encouraged us to join MUN. I thought that it sounded pretty cool.
But when I entered university and started doing MUN, I was so confused. There were people who had done conferences before and who knew everything. I felt like this was way out of my league. Honestly, there were a few moments where I thought, “This isn’t for me.”
That was all until I went to my first conference in Seattle, where I was blown away. With so many people, great ideas and potential all in one place, you can solve an incredible number of issues in just three days at one conference. That’s what drew me to MUN. I cried on the bus back home because it was such a surreal experience for me: realizing that even if you are from a tiny island, you still have a way of making an impact. Your ideas can be presented and understood, and then intertwined into a bigger picture. That’s when I felt, “Yeah, this is my thing.”
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned from MUN?
That every country has a voice, no matter how small or big you are. I’m really interested in small island states, so I appreciate the idea of coalitions where countries come together to present a voice that is just as valuable as the voice of large powers. It’s recognized that you don’t have to be powerful to have influence. You just have to have a voice, and that voice will be heard. Continue reading
The Youth for Human Rights Foundation (B.C. chapter) and Ubuntu for Human Rights International Society co-organized an event dedicated to celebrating the International Day for Human Rights this past December 10th at The Metro (759 Carnarvon Street, New Westminster). One of the keynote speakers was Senator Mobina S.B. Jaffer (who is also an Honorary Patron of UNA-Vancouver). Several human rights groups such as UNA-Vancouver, the Global Peace Alliance, and Child Aid International were invited to host tables at the event. Each table had a representative talk about their group for a couple minutes so participants were able to learn about each organization.
The event began with a demonstration of 30 short videos dedicated to each human right listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted two years after the establishment of the United Nations Association of Canada in 1946. You can find these informative videos at http://www.youthforhumanrights.org/what-are-human-rights.html
After a First Nations welcoming ceremony, Senator Jaffer highlighted the importance of human rights advocacy and, in particular , the rights of homeless people in Vancouver.
In his capacity as Director-at-Large in UNA-Vancouver, Akmal Bazarov shared information about the UNA in Canada and assured participants that the UNA of Canada continues to promote UN values indicated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN Conventions on human rights within its mandates in order to achieve the UN`s Sustainable Development Goals.
For example, in addition to supporting the principles outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Canada has ratified seven principal UN human rights conventions and covenants: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR – accession by Canada in 1976), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR – ratified by Canada in 1976), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT – ratified by Canada in 1987), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC – ratified by Canada in 1991), the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD – accession by Canada in 1970), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW – ratified by Canada in 1981), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD – ratified by Canada in 2010). As a ratifier, Canada must submit reports on how it implements each of these treaties.
We hope that this event contributed to raising awareness among Canadians on UN values and human rights, especially in the rapidly changing political situation in the world.