Honing in on human rights


Winnipeg hosts symposium for community foundation leaders
Attendees at Common Ground Human Rights Symposium
Attendees at Common Ground Human Rights Symposium, held by The Winnipeg Foundation in partnership with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The event brought together participants from community foundations across the country.

By supporting communities to be well-informed, community foundations can create a more compassionate society. A recent symposium for community foundation leaders, hosted by The Winnipeg Foundation, aimed to ensure they are well-informed about human rights issues Canadians face every day.

“It is important that community foundations are aware of the human rights challenges happening in the communities they serve,” says Jennifer Partridge, The Foundation’s Strategic Projects Associate and organizer of the symposium. “In this way, community foundations can take a leadership role in supporting programs that address local human rights challenges, building an equitable society, and helping create more empathetic citizens.”

Common Ground Human Rights Symposium, held in September in partnership with the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, highlighted current issues community foundations need to be aware of, including truth and reconciliation, Islamophobia, and the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers. Attendees included leaders from 13 community foundations across Canada.

The group heard about barriers to Indigenous rights that have direct impacts on individuals and communities – a crisis exemplified by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Girls. They toured Thunderbird House where they heard from local community and business leaders including Bank of Montreal Senior Advisor of Indigenous Relations and former MLA, Kevin Chief, and Executive Chairman of True North Sports and Entertainment and Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club, Mark Chipman who spoke on the successes and challenges of reconciliation.

On-site at the Winnipeg Central Mosque, participants gained insights into the strengths and stereotypes of the Islamic community through a workshop on Islamophobia. The teachings, provided by Islamic Social Services Volunteer Executive Director, Shahina Siddiqui gave a humanized understanding of a faith some people fear.

The raw stories of individuals having to flee their home country – and the struggles of arriving in a new one – illuminated the symposium’s visit to Welcome Place. Here, Executive Director Rita Chahal shared the uniqueness of the Manitoba model in welcoming and guiding newcomers through social and legal systems.

“The Common Ground Human Rights Symposium offered hands-on learning experiences for national community foundation leadership to understand human rights challenges, the value of diversity and best practices in our communities,” Partridge says. “The Canadian Museum for Human Rights makes Winnipeg a natural place for such a dialog to occur, and The Winnipeg Foundation was honoured to host our colleagues for this important discussion.”

Participating community foundations

  • Community Foundations of Canada
  • Calgary Foundation
  • Edmonton Community Foundation
  • Foundation of Greater Montreal
  • Hamilton Community Foundation
  • Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation
  • London Community Foundation
  • The Oakville Community Foundation
  • Ottawa Community Foundation
  • South Saskatchewan Community Foundation
  • Toronto Foundation
  • Vancouver Foundation
  • The Winnipeg Foundation

This story is featured in the Fall 2019 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.

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