Human rights are inherent to each and every person that work to protect and allow individuals the ability to participate within society with others on a level playing field, therefore, no matter the individuals background they are entitled to make their mark. They are essentially the ground rules of our society that can allow us to express ourselves in an impactful way and without these rights the fabric of society may begin to tear.
What really prompted my involvement in the community was my Criminal Justice degree as it enlightened me on some of the issues that certain groups of people face in their lives. This was only reinforced through the writing of my thesis paper on the drug laws in Canada and just the sheer disparity of those affected by them in a negative way. While my experience in the community is not extremely expansive, I do believe I have built a foundation of which will benefit me in working at MARL.
What I have found is that throughout your academic career you for the most part is focused on yourself in terms of trying to excel, get good grades and rarely are you focused on those around you and if you are able to help someone in need. When it comes to community involvement, the most valuable lesson is becoming selfless and taking a moment to think about how you can aid someone in the community or how your actions can benefit a community as a whole and therefore, indirectly help someone or multiple people. Once I learned that lesson, I was able to take a step back from what I was doing and redirect that focus on another positive manner.
What peaked my interest in MARL when deciding on where I should begin a potential program placement was that their key goals were to raise awareness, making a difference and community involvement which aligned a lot with what I have been learning and talking about in my degree. Within my honours courses there is a lot of discussion on certain issues especially those relating to human rights and what some of the potential changes that can be made to solve those issues. Therefore, MARL is an association that would allow me to take those discussions to the next level and outside of a classroom and into a field type environment.
~ Cameron Franzmann
My name is Lea Martin, I am a student at the University of Winnipeg pursuing a double honours degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology. “Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without words And never stops at all”
Youth advocacy is important work, but it is not always easy work. Having to advocate for issues that are intrinsically rooted in your very being, that are essentially your day-to-day experience, that describe the lives of people you care about, it can be draining. Human rights, while it is something we are born with, is not something that is always respected. Whether this disrespect and disregard is due to systematic issues or plain ignorance, it is not an easy battle to go into alone. These unfortunate things that come with advocacy work is what drew me to MARL. Organizations like MARL help to ease some of that burden, they provide a space for something that is so needed when it comes to advocacy, community support.
Finding community support and being an active person within your community may not be something that feels natural, when I first started advocating for the issues I was passionate in, I definitely felt like a fish out of water. However, as my journey has progressed, I have realized the importance of community. It is not only a chance to familiarize yourself with the people around you, but it is also a way to grow yourself as a person, to figure out your place in the world. When you have a community standing with you, it is much easier to cultivate your voice, to diversify your views.
I have been passionate about the destigamtization of mental health for as long as I can remember. The movement has already come so far, but there is still so much work left to be done. I want to help create a world where the resources for mental health are not only accessible, but effective. There are many resources out there, but there are not enough that account for the experiences of those from marginalized communities. These gaps that I found in the movement is the result of listening to others. The stories that you hear just from being present in your community is not an experience you can replicate in a classroom.
This opportunity to gain hands on experience is something that I view as an essential part to getting the most out of my degree. You can only learn so much within the walls of a traditional classroom, it takes stepping out into the world, stepping out of your comfort zone, to truly start your journey as a changemaker.
~ Lea Martin
Human rights, in my understanding, refers to the fundamental freedoms and liberties an individual enjoys for being a human, as well as respecting and upholding the dignity and the humanness of people irrespective of their background. Humans are born with inalienable rights, and such rights should be enjoyed regardless of their background. Human rights are supposed to be enjoyed fully without any form of barriers and limitations.
I have an interest in issues of peacebuilding and sustainable peace. With this interest, human rights education and advocacy cannot be sidelined in the quest to ensure sustainable peace and prevent and minimize conflict. A society where diversity is appreciated, and people's fundamental human rights are respected will enjoy sustainable peace. In this regard, human rights form a core component of the peacebuilding process. Issues of human rights abuse and violation pose a threat to the lives of most people globally. There is a need for urgent intervention and advocacy to address human rights abuses and violations, and this prompted my involvement to contribute my quota to the communities I find myself. I realized that if I commit myself to education and advocacy in communities regarding issues of human rights abuse, it can help bring human rights issues to public attention and help bring about change. Therefore, I joined MARL to be an advocate for issues of human rights.
The biggest lesson I have learned from community engagement is that there are drawbacks when systems of oppression are scrutinized and questioned. Change is difficult for those who are perpetrators of system of oppression, and once there is a conversation that seeks to highlight the ills within a system, there is always a fightback. I have passionately advocated for issues of girl child education, child labor, domestic violence, and other human rights issues in Ghana and received many backlashes from people who wanted to maintain the status quo. For human rights violations to be tackled, there ought to be a conscious effort to advocate for change and speak against systems of oppression. Oppression is cancer to society and creates divisions among societies that should be forging together.
MARL's advocacy, as well as awareness creation on issues of human rights and civil liberties, was what propelled and ignited my interest. I joined MARL because it focuses on advocacy and community engagement. As a person with a keen interest in peacebuilding and sustainable peace, human rights education and advocacy are imperative in preventing and minimizing conflict. In this regard, human rights form a core component of the peacebuilding process, which MARL does well by focusing on addressing human rights issues through advocacy and creating of awareness towards social justice.
~ Prince Duodo