On December 7, 2017 the Manitoba Human Rights Awards reception was held at the RBC Convention Centre. The award recipients that were selected by the MHRA Selection Committee were honoured at the reception to celebrate International Human Rights Day.
Human Rights Commitment Award of Manitoba
The Human Rights Commitment Award recognizes a person or group who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of the rights of Manitobans, beyond the work they do in their paid job or position.
Alaya is a 35 year old Trans Indigenous woman. She comes from Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation. Alaya uses her own story of strength, exploitation and change to advocate for human rights through her community work which is influenced by her own life experiences.
Alaya works with many community organizations and has been instrumental in developing many new initiatives about the exploitation and human trafficking of vulnerable peoples. She has worked with the 2016 Commitment Award winner,Tracia's Trust: Manitoba’s Sexual Exploitation Strategy in partnership with the Province of Manitoba, and currently sits on the Indigenous Advisory Council on Policing Crime Prevention for the Winnipeg Police Board, and the board of Manitoba Moonvoices Inc.
Alaya was recently acknowledged by Status of Women Canada as one of 150 Canadian women making a difference in Canada.
Each year, the organizing committee puts out a Call to Artists to design a unique piece to serve as the award. This year, Marcela Salazar
was selected to design the Human Rights Commitment Award.
Marcela is a Chilean-born Canadian artist who has studied art in both Chile and Winnipeg. She has conducted workshops at Artist Emporium and Winnipeg Art Gallery
and had her artwork in several group and solo Exhibitions. The award will be revealed at the awards reception.
Reconciliation Award of Manitoba
The Reconciliation Award is given to a person or group who is deserving of being honoured for their efforts to achieve reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Manitoba. Red Rising Magazine is an Indigenous youth led publication based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Operating as a volunteer-run collective, Red Rising prides itself on being a platform and movement to amplify the next generation of grassroots Indigenous stories and discourse. With a highly functioning team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth, Red Rising Magazine has had the ability to create operational efficiencies in all areas related to the
production of a magazine, including making the call out for submissions, selection, design, print, distribution, launch, and mentorship. With proven success in magazine production, Red Rising has been able to accept new members into the collective and successfully expand into the areas of Education and Media. Red Rising recently released a special edition that focuses on youth as well as workshops and opportunities to bring Red Rising to the classroom.
The Reconciliation Award was designed by Manitoba artist, Kathleen Noëlle Black in 2015. It was given out in 2015 as the Human Rights Commitment Award and a second piece was reserved to award in 2017.
Sybil Shack Human Rights Youth Award
Amina and Nusaybah Mohamed and Alexa Potashnik
The Sybil Shack Human Rights Youth Award recognizes the commitment of a person or group aged 25 years or younger whose work has impacted the advancement of rights and freedoms locally or internationally.
Dakota Collegiate’s Co-President, Amina Mohamed began the search for a sports hijab to wear while playing for the varsity girls’ basketball team. When officials questioned Amina on her use of safety pins in her hijab as a safety concern, Amina addressed her concerns with her school principal. Together they were able to create a sport appropriate hijab which Amina and her younger sister Nusaybah were able to wear. Amina’s story made National headlines as the first school in Canada to provide sport hijabs to athletes as part of their school uniform which allows girls to comfortably participate in sports while upholding their religious and cultural beliefs.
Alexa is the founder of Black Space Winnipeg, host of Raw Colours on CKUW 95.9FM, local vocal percussionist known as MC Woke and the former Racialized Student Commissioner with the Canadian Federation of Students-MB.
Alexa's work involves creating safe spaces for people of colour. This year Alexa was the emcee for the Women's March On Washington- Winnipeg. She been a speaker for We Day Canada empowering youth, presented at Ted X University of Winnipeg and now sits on the Community Advisory Committee with the City of Winnipeg. Recognized as one of CBC's Future 40 Under 40, Alexa continues to push against the status-quo.
Aaron Berg Award
Dr. Donn Short
The Aaron Berg Award recognizes a person involved in the legal profession who has contributed significantly to the advancement of human rights in Manitoba by way of their legal work. The award was announced in 2016 to recognize the contributions of Aaron Berg, former counsel to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission and General Counsel with Manitoba Justice. Aaron passed away in June 2017. He was an expert in human rights and administrative law, and represented the Commission in several high profile human rights cases, including Janzen v. Platy Enterprises
and Brooks v. Canada Safeway
, both of which established women's rights in this country. Aaron was also involved in drafting The Human Rights Code
to replace the former Human Rights Act
Dr. Short is an Associate Professor of law at the University of Manitoba. He has several published works in the area of advancing human rights including Don’t Be So Gay: Queers, Bullying and Making Schools Safe
and more recently, Am I Safe Here? He is a researcher for the Every Teacher Project,
the founding and current Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Human Rights
and started the group Outlaws for LGBTQ students at the University of Manitoba, Robson Hall. Dr. Short is a playwright and has written works on the theme of youth violence and bullying.
Candle Lighting Youth Contest
Phoenix Van Niew Amerongen
Students in grades 1-6 were invited to submit a picture, paragraph or poem explaining why they believe human rights are important in Manitoba.
Phoenix, a grade five student at Whitemouth School was selected to light the candle to open the awards ceremony for her paragraph. Phoenix lives with her mom and dad and has five siblings. She loves doing art, decorating Christmas trees, and baking ginger bread cookies.
When asked what she would like to be when she grows up Phoenix’s response was, “I’m really good with children age five or under. When I grow up, I want to work in a restaurant, or be a babysitter".