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Our Story

Based in Montreal, Equitas is Canada’s most recognized and active human rights education organization. We work for the advancement of equality, social justice and respect for human dignity through transformative education programs. In the last 50 years, we have reached over 3.2 million people worldwide.

Founded in Montreal, Canada

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, 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.

 

 

Look at our Equitas ONE-PAGER (pdf)

 

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.

IN NUMBERS

  • Founded in 1967
  • Staff of 40 people
  • 17 Board members
  • A network of over 5,000 human rights defenders trained in over 140 countries
  • More than 800,000 children and youth reached in 45 communities in Canada
  • Over 3.2 million people reached worldwide

Equitas 50 years overview (One-pager – pdf)

OUR KEY MOMENTS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS

1970s

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.

1980s

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.

1990s

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.

2010

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

2011

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

2012

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.

2013

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

2014

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.

2015

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

2016

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.

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