LINGAP Canada Commemorates International Human Rights Day, December 10

LINGAP Canada Commemorates International Human Rights Day, December 10

Submitted by: Jean Cawagas, LINGAP-Canada

Human Rights Day is observed every year on the 10th of December, the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a milestone document proclaiming the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”

This year, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has organized a campaign on the theme “We can all be Human Rights Champions” [#Standup4humanrights]. Since the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there have been other declarations, conventions, and treaties on specific human rights, including the Canadian Charter on Rights & Freedoms.

More than 40 people signed in to the Zoom link for the virtual commemoration. Thirty five speakers shared their one to two-minute reflections on the meaning and implications of human rights from their perspectives, contexts, and roles including First Nations and indigenous people, women, children and youth, educators, health workers, media representatives and journalists, IT specialists, LBGTQ+, language teachers, musicians and arts creators, workers, businesspersons, religious/faith leaders, NGO advocates for non-discrimination and anti-racism, immigrants, migrant workers, refugees, seniors or older persons, persons with disabilities, children in trauma and with rare diseases, global-local justice, nonviolence, peacebuilding, environmental care, and sustainable living and futures.

Listed below are the speakers who reflected not only about specific human rights but also how violations of these rights can cause suffering and marginalization, as well as how these violations should be overcome through individual, social, societal, and global action. The participants came from various places and institutions across Canada and New York and Los Angeles, USA.

Emilea Saadeh: a First Nation and Metis descendant of the Michel First Nation & member, Board of Directors, John Humphrey Centre for Peace & Human Rights
Anna Wilson: PhD student, Social Justice & International Education, University of Alberta
Virginia (Jean) Cawagas: Educator for peace, nonviolence, human rights, social justice, and anti-racism; member, LINGAP-Canada
Noreen Berkes: Executive Director, Changing Together; Board of Directors, LINGAP-Canada
Jimmy Buena: Junior High School teacher, Edmonton
Harold Casana: Elementary school student, Edmonton
Lauren Lizada: Junior High School student, Edmonton
Feisal Kirumira: Member, Anti-Racism Advisory Council, Alberta
Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi: President, Greater Toronto Chapter, National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC)
Rev. Gem Mella: Deacon, Corpus Christi Catholic Church, member, LINGAP-Canada
Marco Luciano: Director, Migrante Alberta & representative of Migrante International in Canada
Caridad Bernadino: Educator, City University of Seattle (Edmonton campus); member, LINGAP-Canada; former staff, Edmonton Immigrant Services Association (EISA
Josie Pallard: Filipino-Canadian Saranay Association – Filipino Language & Culture School of Edmonton; Vice-President, LINGAP-Canada
Kristina De Guzman: Creator, Arts & Non-Profit Sector
Roujea Cawagas-Cates: Founder, Artist House – musician & music teacher, LINGAP-Canada
Josette Salgado: Nurse (retired), member, LINGAP-Canada
Grace Alaracon Isla: Founder, The Canadian Society for Relapse Polychondritis
Paula Audrey Rivero: Chief Operating Officer, Qi Creative
Anne Sumach: Director, Health Services, Sage Seniors Association
Michelle Bisell: Education Coordinator, VAD (Voice of Albertans with Disabilities)
Laura Schultz: Social Worker; member, LINGAP-Canada
Lito Velasco: Editor-in-Chief, Alberta Filipino Journal
Chibu Lagman: Independent journalist: Board member, LINGAP- Canada
Zoltan Berkes: University scientist & educator; member, LINGAP-Canada
Chris Cates: Founder, Creative Programming; computer programmer; Secretary, LINGAP-Canada
Robert Zuber: Director, Global Action to Prevent War & Armed Conflicts (New York, USA)
Mavic Cabrera-Belleza: CEO, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) (New York, USA)
Paul Belanger: Director, The Green Foundation
Ben Sabet: Educator; Community engagement & program development; CEO, Business Mentor
Erica Cawagas: student; worker; member, LINGAP-Canada
Michael Siervo: Investment professional, entrepreneurs & community supporter
Marvie Misolas MM: Maryknoll Sisters, New York
Toh Swee-Hin (S.H.Toh): President, LINGAP-Canada; Educator for peace, global/local justice, human rights ,intercultural respect & sustainable futures

The virtual commemoration ended with a meaningful candle-lighting ceremony to symbolize the participants’ commitment to promoting human rights. A YouTube video with a song “Here to Love” by Lenny Kravitz, endorsed by the UN Office of Human Rights was played, with the opening lyrics:
We must all unite, for we are one creation
We must join the fight, together we are strong
We must do what’s right in every situation
Love each other’s lives as you would do your own

When the song ended, the participants stood up with their posters and raised their voices saying “#StandUp4HUMAN RIGHTS”.

A recording of the event will be posted on the LINGAP Canada website. You are welcome to visit

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