October 18, 2012: Equitas’ Speaking Rights program receives prestigious national award Published in 2012 Equitas recognized for anti-racism work with Canadian youth On Oct. 18, Equitas received the Canadian Race Relations Foundation’s Award of Excellence for engaging youth in the fight against inequality, exclusion and racism through its Speaking Rights program in Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg. “Our partners tell us that Speaking Rights has a real impact on youth,” explains Ian Hamilton, Executive Director of Equitas, at the CRRF biennial symposium in Halifax. “They are more respectful of each other and their differences, are gaining self-esteem and leadership skills, and taking action against racism and other forms of exclusion in their communities.” Since its 2008 launch in Montreal, the program has expanded to more than 200 community organizations and municipalities, reaching over 5,500 youth aged 12 to 18 across Canada. “The program encourages youth to look at their own attitudes and beliefs and work together to make their communities better places to be,” says Julie Kon Kam King who manages this Equitas program nationally. In Montreal, 147 partner organizations, 368 youth workers and 4,800 youth have participated in the program. Youth have implemented 22 community actions projects across the City, which include: Dawson Community Centre: Young women photographed girls and women in their community to portray human rights values that are important to them in a project called “What makes me beautiful.” Par la Grand’Porte: Youth from St-Michel designed a “graffiti wall” on human rights values they would like to see respected in their youth centre. They created a video documenting the mural’s creation. Quebec Board of Black Educators: Youth created scrapbooks illustrating diversity in their community and the importance of respect for all. “Youth who participate in Speaking Rights activities are more aware of their rights and responsibilities and become more engaged and responsible citizens,” stresses Julie Kon Kam King. “The Award gives us an important opportunity to share our successes, lessons learned and to recognize the important work being done by partners nationally.” The Award of Excellence is part of the CRRF’s Best Practices initiative. For more information, visit http://www.crr.ca/en/programs/aoe2012.