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Since our last update there has not been a lot of exciting legislative activity - although more is promised in the next few months which will keep the Charter Rights and Legislative Review Committee (CRLRC) very busy! Over the last few months the CRLRC has been working to update MARL's various policies and position papers. We have discussed a variety of hotly contested subjects which have led to interesting and exciting discussions. In particular, we have reviewed and made recommendations to the Board with respect to the ability of minors to make medical decisions.
One of MARL’s raison d’être is to educate. The power of education is to provide our citizens with the necessary tools and information to enter into critical dialogue on issues that impact on our rights and liberties. One of our roles is to educate the youth of today to be the future human rights guardians of tomorrow. G.K. Chesterton expressed it so well – “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.” MARL has taken this to heart.
MARL is excited to announce that we now have a new blog which gives everyone an opportunity to voice their opinions about important issues concerning human rights and civil liberties. Simply go to our website at www.marl.mb.ca and link to one of the discussion topics posted. From there you can post your comment on a topic of interest. We’d especially love to hear from our members. It’s a great way to stay in touch with our members and keep a vigorous exchange of ideas flowing. Many thanks to Peter Sim for his technical expertise in setting up the blog site.
In February, Debra Chorney joined MARL as the Program Developer for the new Human Rights Education Program. Debra brings with her a wealth of valuable experience.
The holiday season comes around with an almost depressing regularity; each December it feels like I just finished buying presents for Christmas when it is time to do it all over again. Regardless of what holiday you do or do not celebrate, we can all look forward to what may be the greatest regular celebration of living in a free and democratic society: electing those who govern us.
Over the past few years, MARL has offered a workshop called Hate - What Have I Got to Do With It? which has been offered to hundreds of students in Winnipeg high schools. In response to requests from students and teachers, we have developed a companion workshop called Responding to Hate. Following successful field testing of the new workshop, we are launching both workshops as the Youth Against Hate human rights education program.
The goals of MARL's Board Development Committee are to define the composition of the Board in terms of needed skills and community representation, recruit sufficient members to the Board to maintain a complement of nine Directors, and provide education and training opportunities to maintain Board competence. Over the past few months, the Board Development Committee has been focusing on the first two of these three goals - defining Board composition and recruiting Board members - leaving the third goal for after the AGM and the election.
The program consists of workshops designed to help students deal with an increasingly intolerant school environment: the racial, homophobic and sexist jokes, hate graffiti and casual put-downs that have become a part of their daily experience. The Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties (MARL) believes students can take a leading role in responding to hate. It is the everyday actions of students that will prevent hate from flourishing. These workshops focus on empowering students to be responsive bystanders.
We are pleased to report that MARL has completed the fifth year of participation in an outstanding human rights education program. Titled The Asper Foundation Human Rights and Holocaust Studies Program, this educational project is funded by both The Winnipeg Foundation and the Asper Foundation. Working together with the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada (JHC) as program administrators, MARL is the home base for the program coordinator for grade nine students who enroll in the program through their schools.