It is with great honour that I present the Canadian Human Rights Commission's 2022 Annual Report, Calling for Inclusion.
This was a significant year in many ways for the Commission. With grateful hearts we said farewell to our former Chief Commissioner, Marie-Claude Landry after her nearly eight-year mandate. The Commission saw a wave of progress during her era. We set out to put people first, and to ensure that access to justice could be a reality for all.
Those central visions guided our work once again in 2022 — a year that also marked the 45th anniversary of our founding legislation, the Canadian Human Rights Act.
The anniversary offered an opportunity to reflect on how different our world is, from when the Act was first brought into reality in 1977. From the surge of new technologies, to the drastic shifts in our climate, to the impact of social media, world politics and now the pandemic — it has all shaped the Canadian landscape, and particularly the Canadian human rights landscape.
We are proud to say that 45 years later, the Commission remains a strong, credible resource for people in Canada to turn to in the face of injustice or when seeking human rights expertise. In these fast changing times and turbulent climates, our role in promoting and protecting human rights is needed more than ever.
That is why I am so honoured to be part of this organization and to step in as leader on an interim basis. In my short time with the Commission, I have been impressed by the broad scope of issues that we are called upon to examine and lend our expertise to in a given year. These are issues raised by people's complaints of discrimination, issues brought to us by our large community of stakeholders, through our employment equity audits, and issues raised through proposed laws being considered by Parliamentarians.
After 45 years of great progress, the human rights landscape in Canada is as complex as ever. Our deeper understanding of unconscious bias, the roots of systemic racism, and the intersectional nature of discrimination has improved our understanding of a myriad of human rights issues that 45 years ago may have been overlooked, such as genetic rights and rights around gender identity. Added to all this is a host of new human rights considerations around climate change, artificial intelligence technologies, populism, misinformation and disinformation, and divisive rhetoric.
The task now before us is to ensure that human rights protections keep pace with our quickly evolving society, to keep adapting our Commission processes, and to keep advancing our knowledge so that we may provide an accessible and barrier-free path to justice.
It was with that in mind that this year we presented 45 Calls for Inclusion to mark the 45th anniversary of the CHRA. We outlined 45 human rights priorities for Canada — actions that we will continue to urge Canadian governments and people in Canada to take to help improve human rights for all.
The initiative has been a strong reminder that after decades of progress, human rights are not static. They evolve and shift and expand with society. This evolution is often led by human rights holders, activists, advocates, and defenders, whom we are grateful to learn from and to collaborate with. And as we all continue our work together, the progress of human rights can help to serve as a barometer and even a guide for our societal progress.
The task that was before us this past year, will be the same for years to come: to keep human rights issues front and center. Returning to the fundamental principles of human rights remains our best way forward to ensure we grow together as a society. We must adhere to what unites us as humans: that we are all inherently deserving of dignity and respect; that we all share a collective set of human rights and a responsibility to respect the rights of others; and that we should all have an equal chance to make for ourselves the lives that we wish to have.
At the close of 2022, I am filled with confidence in the team of dedicated people at the Commission. They are committed to ensuring the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights across Canada. I consider myself fortunate to work with them, to be their interim leader, and to present this snapshot of the hard work they carried out tirelessly in 2022.
Interim Chief Commissioner
Canadian Human Rights Commission