Workshop Descriptions

Day 1 - September 27, 2017


Moving Beyond Labels

Do labels confine us or define us? This panel discussion will challenge our thinking about what moving beyond labels may look like. Labels can define us and give us a sense of belonging to a particular group. They are often embraced as a way to affirm our identities. Yet more and more, people are rejecting labels and are asking if the time has come to focus on what unites us instead of what divides us.

KAIROS Blanket Exercise

KAIROS is an organization that has been committed to truth, healing, and reconciliation, along with justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada. One of KAIROS’ most popular teaching tools is the KAIROS Blanket Exercise.  

The KAIROS Blanket Exercise is an experiential teaching tool, which demonstrates the historical and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.  

The KAIROS Blanket Exercise has received excellent reviews as a tool to increase people’s intercultural awareness and to improve their understanding of the complex relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. More information including a video and testimonials can be found.

Social Condition and Remote Communities

The human rights challenges in remote communities are among the most pressing human rights issues in Canada today. This panel will explore what social and economic inequalities look like and identify populations that are affected by them. Participants will also discuss ways to improve these conditions and find collaborative ways to affect concrete change.

Beyond Accommodation

When a person with a disability also identifies as a woman, as a member of the LBGTQ community or as an Indigenous person, their identity is comprised of these various, intertwining labels. As a result, they may face discrimination on more than one front. This panel will address the barriers faced by persons with disabilities, the need to transcend the accepted concepts of accommodation and the importance of a human rights framework that takes into account the intersection of various grounds of discrimination.

Engaging & Empowering Youth – Tools and Resources

During this workshop hosted by Equitas, participants will explore how human rights education tools can be used to engage and empower youth to “go beyond labels” and promote respect for diversity in their communities. Organizations that work with various youth groups— Indigenous, new Canadians, refugees, young women and girls, and LGBTQI— will share their proven practices and examples of tools that help build inclusive communities across Canada.

Mental Health

Of the 2.4 million working age Canadians with a disability, 795,000 are unemployed, even though they are willing to work, and their impairments do not prevent them from being able to work. This situation is particularly dire for those living with a mental illness where as many as 90% of individuals living with a serious mental health problem or illness are unemployed, and many more are thought to be significantly underemployed or precariously employed. Research shows that this group is as - if not more - qualified, reliable, safe, loyal, and high-performing than their colleagues who do not have a mental illness. Stigma associated with mental illness adds another complexity for individuals living with a mental illness and further hinders their efforts to join (or rejoin) the labour market.

We know that by 2031, Canada is estimated to experience a significant labour market shortage (up to 2 million workers short by 2031), costing the Canadian economy billions in lost GDP annually. This panel will focus on bridging this gap by discussing common employment barriers for individuals living with a mental illness and providing practical recommendations for employers so they can enjoy the benefits this group has to offer. It is time we leave disabilities behind and focus on the strengths of all Canadians.


Day 2 - September 28, 2017


Conflicting Rights

With a country as diverse as Canada, the human rights of one person or one group of people may come into conflict with the rights of others. Conflicting and competing rights are terms that have often been evoked when trying to understand and manage issues between and among individuals, organizations and governments. These conflicts sometimes shape the way we interact with the people around us and the institutions that structure the rules of what we can and cannot do. Are some rights more important than others? Is there a hierarchy of human rights? Our panelists will explore these and other questions while moving beyond the confines of the traditional assumptions used to define the notion of conflicting or competing rights.

LGBT Realities: Pan-Canadian Survey

In this conference, Jasmin Roy, President of Fondation Jasmin Roy and United Nations civil society representative, unveils the major findings of LGBT Realities, a broad-scale pan-Canadian survey conducted by CROP in 2017. The survey took stock of the life realities, values and needs of the members of Canada’s LGBT+ communities.

One of the main goals of the survey was to highlight the specific needs of the young LGBT+ generation and its various segments (by region and according to sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural background, etc.).

The survey also had a heterosexual-cisgender component, the purpose of which was to compare behaviours, values and lifestyle habits with those of members of the LGBT+ communities as well as assess perceptions regarding the LBGT+ communities.

Gender Identity & Gender Expression

During this workshop, we will look at redefining the conceptualization of gender identity, gender expression and the world of gender variance with a multi-faceted and intersectional perspective. We will look at pushing beyond labels and challenging gender norms to respond to our evolving society.

Families in Canada

Families in Canada are diverse, complex and always evolving. It’s therefore no surprise that there are many different ideas about what constitutes a family and that these ideas change over time. Our understanding of family is also shaped by our culture, our background, our various identities. The language we use when discussing family includes words and labels that can both help or hurt the relationship between families and their communities. Our panelists will provide unique perspectives on the meaning of family, the evolution of the language we use to describe family, and the ways in which people self-define familial relationships. This conversation will also look at family diversity through a public policy and human rights lens, exploring the ways families and society intersect, interact and have an impact on one another. 

Human Rights: the Next Generation

This interactive workshop will bring together students from across the country in a dialogue about the human rights issues that are important to youth today. Students will join the workshop through a virtual conference. They will be prepared to share their thoughts and engage in a conversation with a panel of young human rights defenders. The conversation will also take place on Twitter so that other schools or youth groups can also participate.

The panel will look at the various barriers that many youth in Canada are facing, and how to overcome these barriers and serve as human rights defenders. In advance of the Symposium, students will get a head start on the discussion in their classrooms, working to identify human rights issues and reflect on the role of human rights defenders.

State of the Rule of Law in Canada’s 150th Anniversary Year  

In today’s world, fundamental rights and human rights are front and centre of public debate and media. The role of the courts has become increasingly important, since they are tasked with enforcing the fundamental rights that Canadians deem necessary for a free and democratic society. The question is: where does the rule of law stand in Canada?

Beyond 2017 

After two days of exploring what beyond labels means through our interactive and thought-provoking sessions, this final plenary will focus on: What’s next? How do we get to full inclusion in Canada? What does a world without labels really mean? And what can we do about hate and intolerance. The Beyond 2017 session will help us map out how we can all contribute to a more inclusive and respectful Canada.


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