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Defenders for Human Rights

Other Human Rights Defenders

The purpose of Speak Truth to Power Canada is to share the personal journeys of some of the many Canadian human rights defenders working today. As lesson plans are thematic and many Canadians assume the responsibility to advance human rights, every lesson plan also includes community-based defenders. It is hoped that your students may be inspired to identify themselves as human rights defenders and take positive action to support human rights in their own life and community. Perhaps your students will become community defenders themselves.

Min Sook Lee

With an interest in the effect of state structure and power dynamics on human rights, Min Sook Lee’s documentary filmmaking largely focuses on marginalized groups. Lee has made three films about migrant workers in a particular: El Contrato and Borderless – about male migrant workers – and Migrant Dreams – about female migrant workers coming to Canada to support their families, a film for which Lee raised $15,000 on IndieGoGo. El Contrato is a winner of the Cesar E. Chavez Black Eagle Award for its role in the improvement of migrant worker rights. A Ryerson documentary instructor and Toronto International Film Festival judge, Lee is mindful of ethics and the protection of her vulnerable subjects, which have, as well as migrant workers, included North Korean defectors and gay police officers.

  • Human Dignity
  • Labour Rights

Raul Gatica

An indigenous Ñuu Savi poet originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, Raul Gatica is a past Surrey Agricultural Workers Alliance (AWA) coordinator and advocate for migrant workers, positions where he has been a voice for migrant agricultural workers to their bosses and to the general public. Gatica now runs a Spanish-language critical and cultural radio program, Ecos de mi pueblo, directed specifically at indigenous communities. The program hosts workers, activists, and academics in discussions about issues faced by indigenous people and agricultural workers. Gatica received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for his work.

  • Cultural Identity and Education
  • Labour Rights

Mary-Woo Sims

Born in Hong Kong in 1956, Mary-Woo Sims first moved to Canada in 1970, and became a Canadian citizen in 1978. She is a social justice activist, politician, and former chief commissioner of the British Columbia Human Rights Commission. A strong advocate for lesbian, gay and same-sex spousal rights, Sims spent her time in both Vancouver and Toronto, where her involvement in a number of community activist initiatives included the Campaign for Equal Families, the WAVAV Rape Crisis Centre, the Ontario Employment Equity Tribunal, and the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services. She now is a partner at Ardent Consulting Canada, which specializes in positive organizational change.
  • Gender and Sexual Diversity
  • Human Dignity
  • Labour Rights