Dozens protest against Nova Scotia Humans Right Commission in Halifax

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Dozens of demonstrators attended a rally on Spring Garden Road Friday to protest what they're calling inaction from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. As Graeme Benjamin reports, they claim the commission has been ignoring the African Nova Scotian community – Aug 21, 2020

Dozens of demonstrators attended a rally on Spring Garden Road on Friday to protest what they’re calling inaction from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission (NSHRC).

Social and human rights activists claim Black Nova Scotians and people of colour continue to have their complaints dismissed due to the commission “dropping the ball.”

“We have a system designed to uphold human rights, that marginalizes, violates, dismisses, denies and the very human rights that they are taxed and legislated to uphold,” said activist Angela Bowden.

READ MORE: Hundreds protest police brutality, systemic racism at Black Lives Matter rally in Truro

Bowden claims those who have been traumatized by racism, sexism and hate are being re-victimized upon submitting a human rights complaint.

It’s left her calling for Christine Hanson, the president and CEO of NSHRC, to step down.

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“Christine Hanson has been negligent in leading this institution to any type of justice, to any type of the upholding of the human rights of African Nova Scotian communities, and she needs to resign,” said Bowden.

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Hanson was unavailable for an interview on Friday, but in a statement, the human rights commission said no resignations are being considered.

Five Nova Scotian who have had their human rights complaint dismissed or thrown out spoke during the rally outside the NSHRC’s head office on Friday.

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Among the speakers was former federal NDP candidate Rana Zaman, who had her human rights award formally rescinded back in December after the commission said it became aware of comments she made online about Israel and Palestine.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission formally rescinds award presented to Rana Zaman

Zaman had the award rescinded 10 days after she was given it. She feels that’s an example of the commission being selective in the cases they choose to pursue.

“The power of that lobbying group to have their complaint addressed within two days. What does that tell you about the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission?” Zaman said. “Why does one group get satisfaction that is immediate, within a 10-day span, and action, and the rest of us, the people of colour, are ignored?”

In its statement to Global News, NSHRC spokesperson Jeff Overmars said the commission has devoted “considerable resources” to addressing discriminatory practices on issues such as consumer racial profiling and police street checks.

“The Commission acknowledges the trauma associated with anti-black racism and has requested additional resources from the government to better address this trauma,” Overmars stated. “The Commission has also been providing training to all staff on systemic anti-black racism.

“We strongly encourages anyone who feels they have experienced discrimination to contact us.”

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But activists say they can’t wait any longer.

“The Government of the province of Nova Scotia must amend the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act so it take a bigger bite out of racism that we face in the province of Nova Scotia,” said activist Raymond Sheppard.

“More needs to be done, and respect needs to be given the communities whose blood, sweat and tears this land, this country was built on,” said Zaman.

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