The Workshop: A Human Rights Lense

April 10, 2018

As a western country, Canada seems to portray to the world that it does not deal with human right violations of its own. But why is it that inadequate access to clean, safe, drinking water continues to pose a major public health concern in many Indigenous communities? Or that corporate accountability for human right violations is still deficient in many areas? And we cannot forget the heavy increase in hate crimes towards Arabs, South Asians, West Asians, Africans, Muslims, Jews and LGBTQ people in the past years.

As Canadians, we continue to look past the injustices in our own country and communities. That’s why as youth we felt it is essential that we are taught to see through a “human rights lense” to open our eyes and tackle these issues at the heart.

To do exactly this Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society hosted an educational workshop for all youth to learn about having a “human rights lense.” Our main goal was to build capacity in other youth to truly want to create change in their communities and inspire those around them.

Although no strict definition, we defined a human rights lense as “glasses” that help you emit compassion, key-in on injustices and keep proactive engagement. Our main points were as followed:

- Simply acknowledge the elephant in the room (human rights)

- Bring passion to your campaigns

- Represent universality as much as possible

- Educate yourself on current human right issues in your community. Take steps to decolonize, unlearn biases and dismantle prejudices.

- Understand limitations: Understand what are your privileges and what you should do about them.

- Respect the Sacred: Respect indigenous land, diverse languages and practises such as meditation or prayer of those who may participate in your events.

- Newscast: Talk about breaches of human rights that occur in your community or around the world.

As simple as many of thesetopics above may be to some, we felt this as the first step in these youths journey to achieving a “human rights lense.” Through participant feedback we believe we achieved the goal of inspiring these youth to take action, hooray!


We also created a condensed booklet of the Speakings Rights guidebook with activities, terms, event planning steps, resources and more. If you would like access to the document please email