300 episodes

Join me every day for Human Rights a Day. It's a journey through 365 Days of Human Rights Celebrations and Tragedies That Inspired Canada and the World. The short 2 minute readings are from my book Steps in the Rights Direction. Meet people who didn't want to be special but chose to stick their neck out and stand up for what they believed and in doing so changed our world. There's still room for you to make a difference. Start each day with something that will inspire and motivate you to take a chance - to make the world better for us all.

Human Rights a Day Stephen Hammond

    • Philosophy

Join me every day for Human Rights a Day. It's a journey through 365 Days of Human Rights Celebrations and Tragedies That Inspired Canada and the World. The short 2 minute readings are from my book Steps in the Rights Direction. Meet people who didn't want to be special but chose to stick their neck out and stand up for what they believed and in doing so changed our world. There's still room for you to make a difference. Start each day with something that will inspire and motivate you to take a chance - to make the world better for us all.

    March 31, 1959 - Dalai Lama

    March 31, 1959 - Dalai Lama

    Dalai Lama of Tibet escapes to India. Tibet embraced Buddhism in the 7th century under head of state and spiritual leader Dalai Lama. The present and 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was identified at the age of two as a reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. From an early age, he tried to deal with the tensions between his country and China. But China, feeling its power threatened, invaded Tibet in 1950, asserting its sovereignty over the centuries-old region. Tibetan anger grew until an anti-Chinese uprising in 1959 prompted the Chinese military to attack. They fired hundreds of artillery shells, destroying the Dalai Lama’s summer place, killing thousands of Tibetans and leaving many more homeless. The Dalai Lama fled with 20 others, including six of his cabinet ministers. After a 15-day journey, they arrived in India on March 31, 1959 and were given asylum. Since then the Dalai Lama has set up a Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala, India, also known as “Little Lhasa.” The government of China has been strongly criticized for its human rights abuses in Tibet, in contrast to the Dalai Lama, who received the Nobel Peace prize in 1989 for his consistent promotion of peaceful resistance.

    • 2 min
    March 30, 1992 - Native Women's Association

    March 30, 1992 - Native Women's Association

    Native women’s group loses discrimination case. In 1991, when the federal government was trying to change the constitution, it gave $10 million to four aboriginal groups to secure their input throughout an extensive consultative process. Unfortunately, the government overlooked the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), whose members felt they should have been at what they considered a male-dominated table. Belatedly trying to correct matters, the government gave NWAC $560,000, but it didn’t stop the women from taking the federal government to court for violating their charter rights – by denying them freedom of expression and discriminating against them based on gender. On March 30, 1992, Judge Walsh of the federal Court of Canada dismissed the case, saying that while more money would have given the NWAC more voice in the process, it is not up to the courts to ensure that every organization has money during a consultative process. The judge also found that the other four aboriginal groups represented both men and women, and therefore the court should not be interfering with the government’s choices. This decision was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which agreed with Judge Walsh in dismissing the case.

    • 2 min
    March 29, 1993 - Catherine Callbeck

    March 29, 1993 - Catherine Callbeck

    Catherine Callbeck becomes Canada’s first woman elected premier of a province. Catherine Callbeck spent her life alternating between her love of business and her penchant for politics. Born July 25, 1939 in Central Bedeque, Prince Edward Island, she earned bachelors of commerce and education and did post-graduate work in business administration before teaching business in New Brunswick and Ontario. She then returned to PEI to join the family business until her interest in politics landed her in the provincial legislature in 1974 as a Liberal MLA and member of the cabinet. Another stint with the family business was interrupted twice by political stints: in Ottawa as a Liberal MP and then, in January 1993, a return to provincial politics. When the Liberal Party of PEI chose her as leader, she immediately assumed the position of premier, later becoming the first woman elected premier when she and her party won the general PEI election by a landslide (they captured all but one seat) on March 29, 1993. After three and a half years as premier, she returned to the family business, only to be coaxed back to politics in 1997 when appointed to the Senate of Canada. Among Callbeck’s many distinctions is an honorary doctorate of laws from New Brunswick’s Mount Allison University.

    • 2 min
    March 28, 2002 - Arab Peace Plan

    March 28, 2002 - Arab Peace Plan

    Arab countries propose peace plan to Israelis. Even before Israel became an independent country, its citizens and neighboring Arabs were prone to battle. Every peace plan put forward evaporated in the heat of violence. Arabs refused to recognize Israel, and Israelis refused to return any land won during the 1967 Six-Day War: West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. And yet, March 28, 2002 marked a day of hope, when all Arab countries managed to agree on a peace plan process, one that would end the conflict and establish normal relations with Israel. In return, Israel was to return the occupied land, allow Palestinian refugees to return to Israel, and establish a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. As with previous initiatives, there was heated disagreement and scepticism on all sides (including within the United States, long involved in Middle East politics). And sadly, the initiative ended up sharing the usual fate of previous peace proposals. New peace initiatives continue to be proposed.

    • 2 min
    March 27, 1905 - Elsie MacGill

    March 27, 1905 - Elsie MacGill

    Elsie MacGill was a woman of unusual capability and resilience. Born in Vancouver on March 27, 1905, she was the first woman to graduate with an electrical engineering degree from the University of Toronto, then the first woman to receive her masters in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan. Although she contracted polio the same year, the determined young engineer defied the odds and taught herself to walk with two metal canes. She went on to become the first woman to design and test aircraft. Though her disability prevented her from becoming a pilot, she insisted on being a passenger on all test flights to better understand the planes’ performance. During World War II, MacGill became chief engineer of the Hawker Hurricane, a fighter plane used during the Battle of Britain. In 1943, MacGill married William Soulsby, moved to Toronto and started her own consulting firm. Beyond work, MacGill became an author and actively supported women in business. Among her numerous honours were the Order of Canada, the 1967 centennial medal and the Amelia Earhart medal from the International Association of Women Pilots. She was also inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame and the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame. She died in 1980 at the age of 75.

    • 2 min
    March 26, 1984 - Bora Laskin

    March 26, 1984 - Bora Laskin

    Bora Laskin dies while Chief Justice of Canada’s Supreme Court. Born in Fort William (Thunder Bay), Ontario on October 5, 1912, Bora Laskin pursued education in a big way: He earned his bachelor of arts, masters of arts, and bachelor of laws degrees from the University of Toronto and his masters of laws from Harvard Law School. Shortly after being called to the bar, Laskin taught at the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School, also publishing and editing notable legal texts and reports. His first appointment as a judge in 1965 was prestigious: the Ontario Court of Appeal. Within five years, he’d been appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada – the first Jewish person in Canada to sit on the top bench. Less than four years later, as chief justice, Laskin set about modernizing the court and allowing more parties (interveners) to have a say in cases of national importance. He also disagreed so often with court decisions, he was dubbed the “great dissenter.” Although many credit him with influencing future interpretations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, he didn’t live to see that impact himself. On March 26, 1984, less than two weeks after becoming a Companion of the Order of Canada, and while he was still Chief Justice, Laskin died at the age of 71.

    • 2 min

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