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EquiTalks – Building Connected Communities: Heart, Humanity, and Defending Human Rights

Equitas is pleased to announce the next EquiTalks: an inspiring panel discussion with Mary Lawlorthe UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders will take place on Tuesday, March 22, from 12 PM to 2 PM EST. Featuring panelists who are promoting and protecting human rights, these talks will focus on how human rights defenders from all over the world are working towards social change. 

*Our panelists will be speaking in English and French and translation will be available in both languages.*

The EquiTalks also include a virtual networking event! Participants will be invited to join break-out rooms to exchange with one another following the panel discussion.

To register for these events, please follow these steps:

Our Guest of Honour

Mary Lawlor (she), UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Mary is a globally recognized advocate for the security and protection of human rights defenders…

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Appointed in May 2020 to the role of United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, she holds the mandate during a critical time for human rights defenders due to the political and social challenges imposed by the pandemic. This appointment follows decades of commitment to human rights, as Ms. Lawlor became involved in the Irish branch of Amnesty International in 1975, leading the branch from 1988 to 2000. In 2001, she founded Front Line Defenders – International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, serving as Executive Director from 2001 to 2016. Ms. Lawlor is currently an Adjunct Professor of Business and Human Rights in the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), School of Business, Trinity College Dublin, and has a BA in Philosophy and postgraduate degrees in Montessori Teaching and Personnel Management. 

Human Rights Defenders and those who support them know that we have to be relentless in order to make progress. Despite enormous risk for their peaceful work, human rights defenders don’t give up easily. They have indomitable spirits. ” – Mary Lawlor.

What does the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders do?
Find out in this video.

Our Panelists

Cindy Blackstock (she), Gitxsan First Nation activist, Executive Director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada

Member of the Gitxsan First Nation, Cindy is honoured to serve as the Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and a professor at McGill University’s School of Social Work…

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She has over 30 years of experience working in child welfare and Indigenous children’s rights and has published more than 75 articles on topics relating to reconciliation, Indigenous theory, First Nations child welfare and human rights. Cindy was honoured to work with First Nations colleagues on a successful human rights challenge to Canada’s inequitable provision of child and family services and failure to implement Jordan’s Principle. This hard-fought litigation has resulted in hundreds of thousands of services being provided to First Nations children, youth and families.

She recently served on the Pan American Health Commission on Health Equity and Inequity and fundamentally believes that culturally-based equity is fundamental to meaningful reconciliation. Cindy is frequently sighted in the company of the Caring Society’s reconciliation Am-bear-rister, Spirit Bear, engaging children in meaningful actions to implement the TRC Calls to Action.

Aly Sanou (he), Secretary General of the Movement Burkinabé des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples and co-facilitator in Equitas’ IHRTP

Trained as a lawyer, Aly is the Secretary General of the Movement Burkinabé des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples (MBDHP), a long-standing Equitas partner, and holds a Master’s degree in international and European fundamental rights law…

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He is currently a doctoral student in international law at the University of Ouagadougou and is a human rights activist. He has participated on behalf of the MBDHP and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues in several investigative missions on alleged cases of human rights violations. In this capacity, he regularly contributes to the monitoring of the human rights situation in Burkina Faso and to the drafting of several reports on human rights violations. In 2016, he participated in Equitas’ International Human Rights Training Program (IHRTP), and returned as a co-facilitator in 2019.

Hadeel AbuSoufeh (she), Consultant and Trainer on Disability Rights and Inclusion in Jordan and past participant in the IHRTP

Motivated by her personal experiences with discrimination and stereotypes, Hadeel has actively fought for disability rights for more than a decade…

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Her efforts have contributed to social and institutional change in Jordan, enhancing accessibility for people with disabilities. Hadeel was involved in launching the campaign ‘Sar Waqtha’ (It’s Time) at the University of Jordan which called for equal opportunity of right to education for people with disabilities through accessible infrastructure on campus. For this, she received the United Nations Volunteering/MBC Hope Award in 2015. 

Hadeel also lends her expertise through technical assistance and training to civil society and non-governmental organizations to ensure meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities. Hadeel is a former participant of Equitas’ International Human Rights Training Program (IHRTP) and was member of the Advisory Committee of Equitas’ Rawabet Initiative in Jordan, a capacity-strengthening program delivered from 2017 to 2021 that aimed to empower youth to create positive social change. 

Our Moderator

Jean Paul Enama (he), LGBTQI activist and human rights defender, Executive Director of Humanity First Cameroon and past participant of Global Rights Connection

Jean-Paul is a queer Cameroonian activist engaged in the fight against HIV and is a human rights defender of sexual and gender minorities…

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He uses the health-based approach to advocate for equal access of care of key populations. In 2018, he participated in the Universal Periodic Review where he advocated for the decriminalization of discriminatory laws against LGBTI people in Cameroon. He is the Executive Director of Humanity First Cameroon Plus, a community-based organization with an ECOSOC United Nations status working to improve the rights and health of sexual minorities in Cameroon. He holds a Master’s degree in public health and is currently enrolled in an online Master’s program at University of Dundee where he studies Infection Prevention and Control, thanks to the Commonwealth Scholarship he received. He participated in the first cohort of Global Rights Connection in 2021, an Equitas online training. He is interested in using United Nations advocacy mechanisms to combat HIV and reduce discrimination against sexual and gender minorities in Cameroon and worldwide.

Graphic recording will be available during the event!

The EquiTalks will offer live graphic recording to visualize the key ideas coming out of the panel discussion.

Supporting the EquiTalks

With your support, Equitas strives to build more inclusive communities,
all while amplifying the voices of human rights defenders.
But there is still so much to do.

To support these events and Equitas’ mission of advancing equality, we invite you to donate according to your ability to give. Donations of $20 or more will be eligible for a tax receipt. All voluntary contributions from the event will go to support Equitas’ human rights education in Canada and across the globe.  

*For more information, you can contact Ariane Lagacé at alagace@equitas.org.  

Thank you to our generous partners!

Your organization wants to make a difference and sponsor this event?
Please contact Stephanie Nichols for more information.