The Human Rights Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador announced its seven nominees for the 2017 Human Rights Awards.
This annual award recognizes an individual who has made and/or continues to make meaningful contributions to advancing and furthering human rights in the province.
The 2017 Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Award and Human Rights Champion recipients will be announced at a ceremony at Government House on Thursday, Dec. 7.
Under consideration for this year’s award includes Sheldon Pollett, Dr. Pauline Duke, Susan Rose, Dr. Biswarup Bhattacharya, Dr. Mohammed Nazir, Heather Davis and Dr. Lloydetta Quaicoe.
“The selection committee was thrilled with the quality of the applications they received,” Kim Mackay, vice-chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission said in a news release.
“The decision was very difficult and we are grateful to all applicants for their exemplary work. We are very pleased to be able to honour people who have made such significant contributions to our communities.”
This year’s nominations came from community members, professional contacts and others who want to recognize the nominees’ efforts.
The timing of the presentation coincides with International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Award recipient will receive an award created specifically for the event by local textile artist Kelly Bruton.
The following is a list of nominees for the 2017 Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Award:
Polett has worked tirelessly for the past 16 years to improve the lives of homeless and at-risk youth as Executive director of Choices for Youth, an organization that works with hundreds of at-risk youth throughout the province. His dream is to end youth homelessness in Canada. He has taken Choices for Youth, an organization that started out with one program in 1990 and transformed it into a leading youth-serving organization, with nine programs related to housing, employment, education and support. Pollett was nominated because of his commitment to give resilient youth a voice in decision-making, while advocating for improved services and supports directed at them.
Dr. Pauline Duke
The co-founder and a lead physician at the Refugee Health Intake Clinic, Duke provides specialized health services to meet the needs of refugees. He is an award-winning physician, educator and advocate for refugee healthcare. She is a founding member and faculty advisor to Memorial University’s Med Gateway volunteer program, which works to improve access to medical care for refugees, and train students in cross-cultural medicine. During Operation Syria, Duke spearheaded efforts to ensure that all government-assisted refugees arriving in St. John’s had immediate access to health assessments. She was a founding member of the national advocacy group Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care, organized in opposition to federal cuts to healthcare.
Rose is a former teacher, current National vice-president of EGALE Human Rights Trust, and lifelong advocate for LGBTQ2S rights, protections, and visibility in education and beyond. At a time when it was not popular or safe to do so, Susan pushed for changes in the school environment and curriculum. She developed workshops, helped organize gay-straight alliances, facilitated research on homophobia and transphobia in education, and was a personal support to countless families and educators. Beyond the classroom, Rose dedicated her own time and resources to improving the lives of LGBTQ2S people across the island.
Dr. Biswarup Bhattacharya
Bhattacharya was a psychiatrist at Waterford Hospital. In 1969, he took charge of the Newfoundland-Labrador Human Rights Association, which worked to lobby for and promote the advancement of human rights in the province. The NLHRA worked on various issues, including confidentiality, equal pay, conditions of imprisonment and the inclusion of sex and marital status as protected grounds under the Human Rights Act. Bhattacharya passed away in 1992.
Dr. Mohammed Nazir
Nazir is now retired from his role as assistant deputy minister of forestry, but has also made extensive contributions to migrant communities, to the inclusion of people with disabilities, the advancement of women and girls, religious co-operation, and environmental stewardship. He has worked with many organizations, including the Pakistan students association at Memorial University, the Muslims Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, and was a director of the Religious Social Action Coalition of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Davis is the executive director of the committee on family violence and the crisis shelter Willow House in Corner Brook. She has lead the effort to reconstruct the shelter in line with identified needs, and expand its service offerings beyond acute domestic violence crises to any woman in crisis who has experienced gendered violence. Even before her role, she was vocal on the issues of poverty, homelessness and gender-based violence and volunteered extensively to address these issues locally. Her past roles include executive director of the Corner Brook Status of Women Council, community development co-ordinator with Women in Resource Development Corporation, executive director of the Humber Economic Development Board and harm reduction manager with the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Dr. Lloydetta Quaicoe
She is the founder and CEO of Sharing Our Cultures, an organization that works to address the needs of migrant children and fosters intercultural connections. Quaicoe’s work beyond the organization includes work with the African Canadian Association of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Multicultural Women’s Organization of Newfoundland and Labrador. She has written, presented, and developed programming extensively. In 2013, she was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for promoting multiculturalism and intercultural relations.