HWDSB’s Human Rights Policy Approved by Trustees
Hamilton, Ontario – October 3, 2022: On October 3, 2022, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) Trustees unanimously approved a board-wide Human Rights Policy after months of engagement and consultation sessions with the public.
“The Human Rights Policy supports all members of the HWDSB community in understanding their rights and responsibilities to uphold human rights in our learning and working spaces,” said Yohana Otite, Human Rights and Equity Officer at HWDSB. “Students, families and staff told us about the barriers they faced and how difficult it can be to access support. We developed this policy with these experiences in mind, drawing from community output from those that often experience discrimination and harassment.”
The Human Rights Policy is the first step to signal HWDSB’s commitment to listen and establish clear, fair, effective processes which fulfil its duty in fostering an environment where human rights are protected. The development of the policy included community input with over 200 participants across 27 engagement sessions, 771 survey responses, and multiple focus group discussions across the pre-draft and post-draft stages.
“This work represents countless hours of engagement with community members to actively listen and co-create a comprehensive and intersectional policy,” said Board Chair Dawn Danko. “We thank the Human Rights Office for the outstanding work they have done, and the members of the HWDSB community whose participation helped shape this important policy.”
Following the approval of the Human Rights Policy, additional policies and procedures will be developed with community feedback in mind. The Anti-Black Racism Policy, also approved at the October 3 Board meeting, is one such policy that will support and expand on the framework outlined in the Human Rights Policy.
“We want our schools and offices to be places where students and staff can bring their full authentic selves every day,” said Sheryl Robinson Petrazzini, Director of Education. “This policy articulates the Board’s commitment to fulfill its positive human rights obligations and will help ensure that HWDSB will be proactive both in fostering a culture of human rights and in creating accessible, respectful, and inclusive learning and working environments free of discrimination and harassment.”
The HWDSB Human Rights Policy will serve as an anchor policy for existing and future policies and procedures focusing on human rights, equity and inclusion, and is complementary to the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC). The full HWDSB Human Rights Policy can be found at https://hwdsb.info/human-rights-policy.
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Rob Faulkner, APR
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