January 2018 marked the maiden visit of Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Marie-Claude Landry, to Kamloops. Landry visited TRU to give a public lecture called Advancing Access to Justice.
Landry’s mission to make human rights accessible was evident in her interview with The Omega.
“Human Rights Commission is not a business for me, human rights should be everywhere in the country,” Landry said. “We need to be reachable, we need to have a presence. This is why I travel coast to coast.”
Landry has worked towards making the commission more reachable to the people in need.
“I am more concerned about the people we can’t reach,” Landry said.
The process to lodge a complaint has been made simpler and online forms have been released under her leadership. Consequently, the number of complaints has risen.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission upholds the Canadian Human Rights Act, which was passed in 1977 in the parliament of Canada. According to the Commission’s website their mandate is to protect the core principle of equal opportunity and promote a vision of an inclusive society free from discrimination.
Since 1977, Landry is the first Chief Commissioner to visit Kamloops. She is a decorated and sought-after community leader in Quebec’s Eastern Townships where she has advocated for better health and palliative care, stronger local businesses and healthy community development.
Recently, BC Supreme Court ruled an important decision that solitary confinement is unconstitutional. Landry commended the decision and called BC “a shining light for human rights.”
Landry is optimistic about the future of human rights in Canada.
“Our country is seen as the mother of diversity by many countries, but we have room for improvement and we will do it,” she said.
A member of the audience pointed out that BC code and human rights in Canada don’t have anything on basic human rights such as right to food, housing and other social needs. Landry replied by saying that it is a request that that shall be made some time.
“I hope it happens sooner than later,” Landry said.
Landry spoke to the aspiring law students in the audience and motivated them to play a positive role in Canada’s future.
“Every time you hear a new case, it has potential to change lives,” she said. “Remember, it is as much about systemic change as much as individual change.”