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Our Story

Equitas was founded in Montreal in 1967 by a group of eminent Canadian scholars and social activists, including the co-drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Equitas was founded in Montreal, Canada in 1967 by a group of eminent Canadian scholars and social activists, including the co-drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, John P. Humphrey, women’s rights activist Thérèse Casgrain and the “ambassador of persons with disabilities”, Dr. Gustave Gingras.

The co-founders strongly believed that education in the field of human rights would lead to more social justice.

Equitas, formerly known as the Canadian Human Rights Foundation, was created to transform that belief into reality.

Take a look at our presentation document.

In the complex mosaic which is our world today, how does Equitas make a difference?

Today, Equitas continues to innovate and act as a global leader in the human rights education movement. Our tools and methodology are recognized in Canada and around the world for their quality and innovation.

Whether promoting women’s and young girls’ rights in Senegal, reinforcing the LGBTI rights movement in Haiti, equipping young leaders in the Middle East and North Africa to participate more effectively in community life, or developing new partnerships to support work with Indigenous youth in Canada, our efforts have taught us that investing in human rights education is investing in building more inclusive, more equitable and more peaceful communities.

As we celebrate 50 years of accomplishments, we pursue our commitment to open up spaces where the voices of women, children, youth and marginalized groups are amplified and their leadership as solution makers in building safer, more inclusive and more equitable communities is recognized.

We are a movement of human rights changemakers. Join us!


  • 1967: the year Equitas was founded 
  • 59 staff members 
  • 17 board members 
  • 64 communities participated in our programs across Canada 
  • 145 countries where human rights defenders participate in our programs 
  • 7 400 human rights defenders participated in our trainings  
  • 1 425 600 children and youth participated in our programs in Canada 
  • 4 474 000 people participated in our programs around the world 

Extract from Equitas Annual Report.



From the McGill Faculty Club to National Prominence

The organization initiates pioneering national research, conferences and publications on human rights issues: racism, aboriginal rights, minority rights, rights of the aged and more.


Training Canadian law students on human rights issues

An annual human rights summer program in Prince Edward Island is launched for Canadian law students. The organization continues to do research and hold conferences on human rights issues.


Training human rights defenders from all over the world

Equitas adopts the participatory approach for all its education programs. With funding from Canadian government agencies, international participation in the International Human Rights Training summer program grows so that by the end of the decade, it attracts 120 human rights educators a year from over 60 countries annually. The first activity overseas takes place in Bratislava in 1995 to be followed by many more in Asia and Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union.


Speaking Rights, a program for 13-17 year olds, was launched.


Equitas awarded the YMCAs of Québec Peace Medal for its international initiatives.


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.


Launch of Young Women, Young Leaders Program; Launch of 5-year project: Strengthening Human Rights Education Globally.


Equitas receives Rights and Freedoms Prize from the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse du Québec (CDPDJ); Equitas awarded Children’s Rights Trailblazer Award from the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children for the Play it Fair! program;

Launch of Promoting Religious Harmony and Inter-Faith Dialogue in Sri Lanka.

Despite the end of three decades of war in Sri Lanka in 2009, ethnic and religious violence has continued to take place in the country. Our work in Sri Lanka focuses on promoting human rights, inclusion and religious harmony, and equipping communities to resist violent conflict.


Play it Fair! – three year $450,000 commitment by TD Bank Group; National Child Day activities in the Canadian Senate


The Mosharka Project (2012-2016) engaged 1,661 youth and 16,675 community members in 5 countries in the Middle East and North Africa; Launch of a new project on Preventing Torture in the Francophonie, in partnership with Swiss-based organization International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) and partners in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Burundi, Rwanda, Senegal, the Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo; New speaker series with RBC focusing on Diversity and Inclusion of youth in Montreal.

Strengthening the movement against homophobia and for the rights of LGBTI people in Haiti : a new project funded by the European Union is launched.

Equitas and its partners aim to create a social and political environment conducive to the respect for diversity and the protection and promotion of the rights of LGBTI people in Haiti.


The launch of The Act Together for Inclusion Fund (ACTIF) funded by Global Affairs Canada , coordinated in partnership by Equitas and Dignity Network Canada, the Fund aims to enhance the respect, protection and fulfillment of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, two-spirit and intersex (2SLGBTQI+) persons in countries in the Global South. More on ACTIF


The Global Rights Connection training program is an online participatory aimed at strengthening the capacity of organizations to implement human rights education activities (training sessions, advocacy or awareness campaigns, etc.) in order to contribute to the development of a global culture of human rights. Global Rights Connection is more than an ordinary online course, it’s a collaborative community. Two editions have already been successfully completed.

→ To learn more about the training program, please consult the information document