The following is being distributed at the request of the Human Rights Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador.
During a ceremony today at Government House in St. John’s, the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission presented the 2019 Human Rights Award to Jessie Lawrence, 2SLGBTQ+ Advocate and Youth Activist.
The 2019 Human Rights Award is presented annually in celebration of International Human Rights Day. It recognizes an individual who has made and/or continues to make a meaningful contribution to advancing and furthering human rights in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Growing up in a small town in Newfoundland and Labrador, Jessie has seen how a community can shape youth. At 14 years old, she decided to ensure that the community shaping was to be a positive one. Jessie became the Co-Founder and Director of Camp Ohana, which is an innovative 2SLGBTQ+ focused summer camp, by youth for youth. At camp, there are no wait times for counselors, no hatred, simply education and inclusion. Jessie strives to further acceptance in schools and promote the need for effective action against the discrimination of diverse individuals. Jessie is also part of the vibrant francophone community and holds the position of Vice President of Franco Jeunes de Terre-Neuve et Labrador, leading the way for accessible resources among the francophone community and people of French expression.
Also at today’s ceremony, Bridget Foster was named Human Rights Champion. The Human Rights Commission grants this recognition to someone who has made a meaningful, lifelong contribution to human rights in Newfoundland and Labrador. The recipient is generally chosen by members of the selection committee.
Bridget was awarded the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2014 for over 30 years of service in the immigration/settlement sector. Her accomplishments include receipt of the Paul Yuzyk Lifetime Achievement Award for Multiculturalism in 2012, as well as Her Majesty’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals in 2004 and 2012. Bridget has been involved with the Canadian Council for Refugees, the National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women and the RCMP Race Relations Committee. She was also the driving force behind the formation of the Atlantic Region Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies and the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance. Furthermore, she championed bringing the Metropolis project to the Atlantic region, a project that played an important role in supporting research that sought to inform government decision-making on immigration policy. Bridget began her work in the area of immigration as a volunteer with the Friends of Refugees, the forerunner of the current organization the Association for New Canadians (ANC).
The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission thanks all those who nominated individuals for the 2019 Human Rights Award. The Selection Committee’s task was challenging in deciding this year’s Human Rights Award and Human Rights Champion recipients.
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Carey S. Majid
Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission