Challenging thinking of Oakville, Burlington, Milton students aim of symposium


Published December 5, 2022 at 10:40 am

The Human Rights Symposium will be a virtual event for HDSB students and staff on Dec. 8-9. HDSB IMAGE

The Halton District School Board is hosting its fourth annual Human Rights Symposium for students (Grade 7-12) and staff in Oakville, Burlington, Milton and Halton Hills.

The virtual event will be held Thursday (Dec. 8) and Friday (Dec. 9) and feature keynote speakers Sheila Watt-Cloutier and Kehkashan Basu.

The annual symposium aims to engage in vital conversations and challenge thinking.

This year’s theme is Environmental Rights, which explores the interconnectedness of globalization, environment, Indigenous Rights, human rights and our collective responsibility to protect our planet.

“The Human Rights Symposium supports the Board’s Environmental Leadership and Indigenous Perspectives and Awareness work, two key areas of focus in the HDSB Multi-Year Strategic Plan 2020-2024 and our Human Rights Equity Action & Accountability Plan: The Way Forward,” says Curtis Ennis, Director of Education for the HDSB.

“The important work underway at the annual Human Rights Symposium serves as a reminder of the value of bringing students, staff and community partners together to address common issues.”

Registration for the HDSB event is not required and information on how to access the event will be shared with students and staff.

This year’s two keynote speakers are:

  • Keynote speaker on Dec. 8 (9 – 10:30 a.m.): Sheila Watt-Cloutier is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, climate change and human rights advocate, TEDx speaker, author, former Canadian President and International Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. Sheila speaks with passion and urgency on the issues of today — the environment, the economy, foreign policy, global health and sustainability — not as separate concerns, but as a deeply interconnected whole.
  • Keynote speaker on Dec. 10 (9:30 – 10:30 a.m.): Kehkashan Basu, global influencer, educator, environmentalist, champion of women and children’s rights, TEDx speaker, Climate Reality Mentor, author, musician, peace and sustainability campaigner. Kehkashan is the Founder-President of global social innovation enterprise Green Hope Foundation, which works at a grassroots level in 26 countries, empowering over 400,000 young people and women in the sustainable development process through education.

Students and staff are being encouraged throughout the week to share what they are learning on social media with the hashtag: #EnvironmentalRightsHDSB.

“Environmental Rights and protection is our collective responsibility,” says Jennie Petko, Superintendent of Education with responsibility for Human Rights, Equity, Inclusive Education and Indigenous Rights.

“This year’s Human Rights Symposium provides an opportunity for our HDSB community to discuss issues related to environmental preservation, Indigenous Rights and the interconnectedness of our planet.”

The HDSB Human Rights Symposium aligns with Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, which is observed annually to recognize the day on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.


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