The Manitoba Human Rights Commission

Five Manitobans to receive Human Rights Awards

The Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties, the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Manitoba Human Rights Commission proudly announce the recipients of the 2013 Human Rights Awards. These awards are given out every year in celebration of International Human Rights Day.

The Annual Human Rights Commitment Award of Manitoba recognizes those who have promoted respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and have advanced the rights of Manitobans.

The Recipients of the 2013 Human Rights Commitment Award of Manitoba are:

  • Dr. Joan Durrant, Professor of Family Social Sciences, University of Manitoba
  • Betty Hopkins, Chair of the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)
  • The Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD), celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2014, the advocacy organization has always believed that Manitobans with disabilities have the same right as anyone to enjoy a full meaningful life.

The Annual Sybil Shack Human Rights Youth Award recognizes the work of a person or group of people, 25 years old and under that has had an impact on the advancement of human rights as guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and human rights legislation in Manitoba.

The recipients of the Sybil Shack Human Rights Youth award for 2013 are:

  • Megan Fultz University of Winnipeg Students' Association President
  • Gray Academy of Jewish Education Student' Gay Straight Alliance Group

Everyone is encouraged to attend the award reception in honour of this year's recipients. This will take place on December 10, 2013 at the Union Centre 206-275 Broadway, Winnipeg from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, please visit the Manitoba Human Rights Commission's website www.manitobahumanrights for tickets. The event is free and light refreshments will be served.

Background on 2013 recipients follows:

2013 Human Rights Commitment of Manitoba Award Recipients

Dr. Joan Durrant, Professor of Family Studies at the University of Manitoba works tirelessly to help parents and all who work with children to view children as full human beings with fundamental human rights. She focuses on the "everyday" violence that children suffer in the name of punishment. Dr. Durant is making a change in Manitoba and around the world by promoting children's right to protection from violence, and to discipline that respects their voices and dignity. (Please note that Dr. Durant is unfortunately on a plane to Stockholm on December 10th and will not be able to personally receive her award. She is however, available for interviews in advance.)

Betty Hopkins has volunteered full time for more than four decades working to address issues of inequality while promoting social justice. Chair of the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) Manitoba, her 20-year involvement has included service on its national board. She has contributed to the founding and chairing of an impressive number of societies including the Elizabeth Fry Society, served with the John Howard Society at the local and national levels and participated in the Solicitor General's Task Force on Planning for Women Who Receive Federal Sentences. An executive member of the board of Community Living Manitoba, she has also lent her skills in the past to support a number of grassroots self-help groups such as Mothers' Allowance (now Mothers on Social Assistance) and to lobby successfully for the security of lunch and after-school programs for children of working parents.

The Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD) is a disability rights organization controlled by Manitobans with disabilities. From its beginnings in 1974, the MLPD has had a profound impact on Manitoba. Its advocacy was responsible for such developments as the introduction of Winnipeg's Handi-Transit system, wheelchair accessible taxi services, and a program for accessible transportation that exists in over 60 rural communities. It was a key player pushing for changes to the provincial Building Code ensuring that public places are accessible to everyone. The MLPD's work had a significant effect on education legislation and policy, resulting in more inclusive education for students with disabilities. In 2014, The Manitoba League will be celebrating its 40th year of operation.

Background 2013 Sybil Shack Human Rights Youth Award Recipients

Megan Fultz As a young woman with a physical disability, Megan has always had an innate passion for social inclusion and the rights of persons of all abilities. When she was 16 years old, she helped start the Winnipeg chapter of the international human rights organization, Oxfam Canada. She served as the youngest Prairie Regional Chairperson of Oxfam Canada and as the President of Oxfam Winnipeg for three years. She was also chosen to be an Oxfam International Youth Partner, traveling to New Delhi, India in 2010 and collaborated with young people from 97 other countries on community leadership projects from all over the world. In 2010, Megan was presented with the Spirit of Change award by Oxfam Canada for outstanding contributions to the organization. She was also the youngest person to receive such an award. Megan also became an active volunteer at the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) of Manitoba and a member of their Youth Education Committee. Over the past two years, Megan also began volunteering at Winnipeg's Legal Help Centre. Megan Fultz graduated from The University of Winnipeg in June 2013 with a BA in Human Rights and a BA in International Development Studies.

Gray Academy of Jewish Education Students' Gay Straight Alliance Group was nominated by guidance counsellor Diane Peters and wrote the following in her nomination of this remarkable group of young people.

"Some gay students told me that the community was not ready to accept this type of group at our school….Anna Binder and William Pitch made it happen with the help of the school board, the administration and a committee of teachers who value human rights. I can only imagine the strength of character it took these two individuals to get the program running every day at lunch. It was launched last year and great things have come from its educational component and the comradely of the group as a whole. They have so much support from the community of gay and straight students and the alumni."

For more information about these awards and past recipients please visit: