Almost nine months since the start of this global pandemic brought on by COVID-19, the world is still reeling from the heavy social, political, and financial consequences brought on by the virus.
Equitas has been creative in rethinking the delivery of our programs in the context of remote working and travel restrictions. Hand in hand with over sixty partners across Canada and internationally, Equitas has pivoted to online delivery, all while maintaining our participatory empowering approach.
As we hear more and more of communities and individuals whose voices are ignored and whose human rights are not respected, it is clear the pandemic has only highlighted the inequities that existed before the crisis. Spaces for civil society and dialogue are shrinking, and systemic racism and discrimination have become all the more apparent. Real change so desperately needs to happen.
Through human rights education, Equitas works towards this change, as we enable the empowerment of people to carry out actions for social justice.
This past year alone, Equitas supported youth across the country to lead 26 Community Action Projects in Canada, to fight against injustice and discrimination and build more inclusive communities.
In response to acts of discrimination against Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC), Equitas led “Protecting Youth Rights in a Pandemic” virtual workshops to forty-five Canadian organizations working with youth to inform them of their rights and obligations, particularly if stopped by police.
Workshops like this one create spaces for youth to voice their lived experiences, understand their rights, to claim them and to spread the knowledge they have acquired, becoming agents of change in their communities.
One such agent of change is Destin Bujang, co-founder of the Black Creek Youth Initiative, a youth-led organization in the Black Creek neighbourhood in Toronto, one of the most financially disadvantaged neighborhoods in the province.
“The Equitas workshops were of great impact to our work as they gave us the tools, the education, and the connections to address specific issues that are affecting our communities at this time. As times change, needs and priorities change as well. With continuous, adapted trainings, like the ones Equitas offers, the magnitude of the impact on our communities will be huge”.
Discrimination knows no borders
Equitas’ Rawabet Initiative in the Middle East and North Africa region strives to address issues of social exclusion through meaningful partnership and community actions that empower youth, women, and persons living with a disability. Through training and tools, Equitas encourages citizens to find solutions to human rights problems, such as discrimination and exclusion of marginalized groups. And the pandemic has only exacerbated human rights issues, as in periods of crisis, vulnerable populations have increasingly limited options to ensure their basic needs and rights.
In Tunisia, sign language interpretation and subtitling were never provided on televised government communications, excluding up to 200 000 Deaf and hard of hearing people from receiving key information about the COVID-19 outbreak last Spring.
Trained by Equitas and our local partner, Centre TuMed, to use social media to effectively spark positive social change, the youth involved in Rawabet, along with other key players of Tunisian civil society mobilized thousands of people to support the deaf community to claim their right to information.
# لغة الإشارات حق موش مزية – sign language is a right, not a favour
This fight against discrimination quickly went viral and within a matter of days, on April 23, for the first time in Tunisia’s history, the President of the Republic’s speech was simultaneously translated into sign language.
There are countless stories that could be told about the amazing changes brought about by people empowered by Equitas’ human rights education programs.
However, as the pandemic threatens advances made by courageous youth and human rights defenders, and makes discrimination all the more prevalent, positive change become impossible to ignite without the support of our donors. Equitas remains resolute and forward thinking in equipping empowered youth, human rights defenders and partners with the tools needed to create real change amidst these complex and uncertain times.
By donating to Equitas, you contribute to eliminating racism and discrimination, and to encouraging youth to speak up for their rights here in Canada, but also around the world.
You can make a difference.
We invite you to donate to Equitas, according to your ability to give. With a monthly contribution of $25,
or a one-time donation of $500, you contribute to building a safer, more equitable world for all.