The Human Rights Committee recognizes these days each year:
Black History Month
Black History Month brings attention to the hardships African Canadians have endured and continue to endure, and helps all Canadians understand the role the Black community has played in our history. The first known black person to set foot in Canada did so sometime between 1603 and 1608. His name was Mathieu de Costa, and he was a translator for a French merchant-explorer named Pierre Du Gua. The first black person to live in Canada was Olivier Le Jeune, a slave from Madagascar. Slavery was abolished across the world by 1834, but African Canadians have endured discrimination and racism since that time. Black History Month gives us an opportunity to take the time to learn about this facet of our history.
March 21 – International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
April 17 – Equality Day
Equality Day marks the coming into force of the equality provisions (Sections 15 and 28) in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on April 17, 1985. The charter was signed by Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on April 17, 1982, however Section 15 was not implemented for three years to allow jurisdictions to analyse their laws and amend them as necessary.
May – Asian Heritage Month
May is declared Asian Heritage Month by the Government of Canada. This statement is in place to acknowledge the contributions Asian Canadians have made to Canadian Society. This recognition was inaugurated in 1993 and has been celebrated and continues to be celebrated by many Canadian cities, including Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Halifax.
May 1 – International Workers’ Day
May 2 – Holocaust Remembrance Day
Holocaust Remembrance Day allows people to take time to remember and reflect on the atrocities that occurred in Nazi occupied territory during the Second World War. Less than seven decades ago, millions of people were rounded up, ghettoized, experimented upon, and murdered. As inconceivable as this was, genocides continue to happen today. Holocaust Remembrance Day is also a day to learn how to prevent genocides from occurring in the future.
May 21 – World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
Diversity Day is an opportunity to help communities understand the value of cultural diversity and learn how to live together in harmony. It was adopted in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
June 21 – National Aboriginal Day
National Aboriginal Day is a day set aside to recognize and celebrate the unique cultures, heritage, and contributions of Canada’s Aboriginals. There are three Aboriginal groups in Canada – First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. National Aboriginal Day is celebrated annually on June 21, as this day often coincides with the summer solstice. National Aboriginal Day starts the “Celebrate Canada” days and is followed by St. Jean Baptiste Day (June 24), Canada Multiculturalism Day (June 27), and concludes with Canada Day (July 1st). National Aboriginal Day gives people of all walks of life the opportunity to share and celebrate the Aboriginal peoples values, customs, language, and culture.
First Monday – Heritage Day
August 12 – International Youth Day
August 23 – International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is annually observed on August 23 to remind people of the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade. It gives people a chance to think about the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of slave trade. In late August, 1791, an uprising began in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) that would have a major effect on abolishing the transatlantic slave trade. The slave rebellion in the area weakened the Caribbean colonial system, sparking an uprising that led to abolishing slavery and giving the island its independence. It marked the beginning of the destruction of the slavery system, the slave trade and colonialism. International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition was first celebrated in many countries, in particular in Haiti, on August 23, 1998, and in Senegal on August 23, 1999. Each year the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reminds the international community about the importance of commemorating this day. This date also pays tribute to those who worked hard to abolish slave trade and slavery throughout the world. This commitment and the actions used to fight against the system of slavery had an impact on the human rights movement.
September 8 – International Literacy Day
The United Nations’ (UN) International Literacy Day annually falls on September 8 to raise people’s awareness of and concern for literacy issues in the world. According to UNESCO, about 774 million adults lack the minimum literacy skills. One in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women. About 75 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out. However, literacy is also a cause for celebration on the day because there are nearly four billion literate people in the world. The UN General Assembly proclaimed a 10-year period beginning on January 1, 2003, as the United Nations Literacy Decade. The assembly also welcomed the International Plan of Action for the Decade and decided for UNESCO to take a coordinating role in activities at an international level within the decade’s framework. On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally. This day was first celebrated on September 8, 1966.
September 21 – International Day of Peace
International Day of Peace is also known as World Peace Day and occurs on September 21. This day is dedicated to peace, and specifically to the “absence of war” such as what would occur as a ceasefire in a combat zone. The Peace Bell is rung at UN Headquarters in New York, New York, USA. The Peace Bell is very significant in that it was cast from donated coins from children from all the continents. It was a gift to the UN Association of Japan as a reminder of the “human cost of war.” The inscription on the bell reads “long live absolute world peace.” Individuals often wear white peace doves to commemorate the International Day of Peace. The first celebration was held on Tuesday, September 21, 1982.
October 17 – International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
November 16 – International Day of Tolerance
1995 was the United Nations Year of Tolerance, and at the UN General Assembly in 1996, the UN invited member states to observe a day for tolerance each year on Nov. 16. On the Day of Tolerance, the UN reaffirms its commitment to advance human welfare, freedom and progress everywhere, as well as to encourage tolerance ,respect, dialogue and cooperation among different cultures, civilizations, and peoples.
November 25-December 10 – 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence
December 3 – International Day for Disabled Persons
Dec. 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. On this day we celebrate through out the world the achievements of people with disabilities and the possibility of a world where EVERYONE belongs.
December 10 – International Human Rights Day
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948. In 1950, the General Assembly declared the anniversary of that date International Human Rights Day. Traditionally, the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights and the Nobel Peace Prize are awarded on this day.