News Release: The Manitoba Human Rights Commission

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 2, 2013

Chairperson leaves the Manitoba Human Rights Commission

After 6 years as Chairperson of the Manitoba Human Rights Board of Commissioners, Jerry Woods is stepping down. His passion, openness and honesty characterized a man respected throughout the country. Mr. Woods was the first Aboriginal Chairperson of a provincial Human Rights Commission in Canada.

At a goodbye lunch for Jerry held last week, Vice-chairperson Yvonne Peters said his wisdom, passion, common sense and respect for all communities in Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba, will be greatly missed.

"On behalf of the Board of Commissioners and staff, I would like to thank you for your 13 years of hard work, especially as Vice-chair and Chair, she said. "I would also like to thank you for your commitment to human rights, your leadership and your inspiration."

Mr. Woods most admired the quiet heroes in the fight against discrimination. "I have been continually impressed with the resilience, determination and grace of the people who fight discrimination," he said. "Most are unsung heroes and I thank you for your silent work defending human rights and saying no to discrimination."

Jerry was appointed Vice-chair of the Commission in 2001. In 2007 he became Chairperson. One of Jerry's greatest passions was creating human rights awareness in young people. He hosted the Commission's first youth conference in 2001 and continued to do so for the next 10 years.

Throughout his years as Vice-chair and Chair, Jerry represented the Commission at countless conferences, meetings, ceremonies and media interviews. He spoke eloquently about his own experiences and of the experiences of the many people he spoke with. He was always proud to acknowledge that he was a member of the Bear Clan from the Couchiching First Nation and that his spirit name is Ish Ka Dae Mukwa, which is Fire Bear in Ojibway.

Jerry began the Racialized Communities and Police Services Project in 2005 when a neighbourhood safety committee approached him raising concerns about the lack of communication and a worsening relationship between racialized communities and the Winnipeg Police. Jerry met with three consecutive Chiefs of Police over seven years and held countless community meetings. The final project report was released last year. The consensus of many community leaders was that communication between the Winnipeg Police Service and community organizations had improved, especially over the last five years.

The Manitoba Human Rights Board of Commissioners consists of ten individuals (including a chairperson and a vice chairperson) who represent the geographic, cultural, social and economic profile of Manitoba. Commissioners are appointed by the Government of Manitoba. The Board sets direction and policy for the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. Board members review investigation reports and can dismiss a complaint, direct the parties to settle the complaint or ask the Minister of Justice to select an adjudicator from a list of those appointed under The Human Rights Code for a public hearing. The adjudication process is independent of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission and the Board of Commissioners.

 

For more information or to book an interview with Mr. Woods, please contact:
Patricia Knipe
Communications Director
Manitoba Human Rights Commission
204-945-5112