Join me every day for Human Rights a Day. It's a journey through 365 Days of Human Rights Celebrations and Tragedies That Inspired Canada and the World. The short 2 minute readings are from my book Steps in the Rights Direction. Meet people who didn't want to be special but chose to stick their neck out and stand up for what they believed and in doing so changed our world. There's still room for you to make a difference. Start each day with something that will inspire and motivate you to take a chance - to make the world better for us all.
See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
March 31, 1959 - Dalai Lama
2:29Dalai Lama of Tibet escapes to India. Tibet embraced Buddhism in the 7th century under head of state and spiritual leader Dalai Lama. The present and 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was identified at the age of two as a reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. From an early age, he tried to deal with the tensions between his country and China. But China, feeling its power threatened, invaded Tibet in 1950, asserting its sovereignty over the centuries-old region. Tibetan anger grew until an anti-Chinese uprising in 1959 prompted the Chinese military to attack. They fired hundreds of artillery shells, destroying the Dalai Lama’s summer place, killing thousands of Tibetans and leaving many more homeless. The Dalai Lama fled with 20 others, including six of his cabinet ministers. After a 15-day journey, they arrived in India on March 31, 1959 and were given asylum. Since then the Dalai Lama has set up a Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala, India, also known as “Little Lhasa.” The government of China has been strongly criticized for its human rights abuses in Tibet, in contrast to the Dalai Lama, who received the Nobel Peace prize in 1989 for his consistent promotion of peaceful resistance. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
March 30, 1992 - Native Women's Association
2:24Native women’s group loses discrimination case. In 1991, when the federal government was trying to change the constitution, it gave $10 million to four aboriginal groups to secure their input throughout an extensive consultative process. Unfortunately, the government overlooked the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), whose members felt they should have been at what they considered a male-dominated table. Belatedly trying to correct matters, the government gave NWAC $560,000, but it didn’t stop the women from taking the federal government to court for violating their charter rights – by denying them freedom of expression and discriminating against them based on gender. On March 30, 1992, Judge Walsh of the federal Court of Canada dismissed the case, saying that while more money would have given the NWAC more voice in the process, it is not up to the courts to ensure that every organization has money during a consultative process. The judge also found that the other four aboriginal groups represented both men and women, and therefore the court should not be interfering with the government’s choices. This decision was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which agreed with Judge Walsh in dismissing the case. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
March 29, 1993 - Catherine Callbeck
2:32Catherine Callbeck becomes Canada’s first woman elected premier of a province. Catherine Callbeck spent her life alternating between her love of business and her penchant for politics. Born July 25, 1939 in Central Bedeque, Prince Edward Island, she earned bachelors of commerce and education and did post-graduate work in business administration before teaching business in New Brunswick and Ontario. She then returned to PEI to join the family business until her interest in politics landed her in the provincial legislature in 1974 as a Liberal MLA and member of the cabinet. Another stint with the family business was interrupted twice by political stints: in Ottawa as a Liberal MP and then, in January 1993, a return to provincial politics. When the Liberal Party of PEI chose her as leader, she immediately assumed the position of premier, later becoming the first woman elected premier when she and her party won the general PEI election by a landslide (they captured all but one seat) on March 29, 1993. After three and a half years as premier, she returned to the family business, only to be coaxed back to politics in 1997 when appointed to the Senate of Canada. Among Callbeck’s many distinctions is an honorary doctorate of laws from New Brunswick’s Mount Allison University. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
March 28, 2002 - Arab Peace Plan
2:14Arab countries propose peace plan to Israelis. Even before Israel became an independent country, its citizens and neighboring Arabs were prone to battle. Every peace plan put forward evaporated in the heat of violence. Arabs refused to recognize Israel, and Israelis refused to return any land won during the 1967 Six-Day War: West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. And yet, March 28, 2002 marked a day of hope, when all Arab countries managed to agree on a peace plan process, one that would end the conflict and establish normal relations with Israel. In return, Israel was to return the occupied land, allow Palestinian refugees to return to Israel, and establish a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. As with previous initiatives, there was heated disagreement and scepticism on all sides (including within the United States, long involved in Middle East politics). And sadly, the initiative ended up sharing the usual fate of previous peace proposals. New peace initiatives continue to be proposed. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
March 27, 1905 - Elsie MacGill
2:33Elsie MacGill was a woman of unusual capability and resilience. Born in Vancouver on March 27, 1905, she was the first woman to graduate with an electrical engineering degree from the University of Toronto, then the first woman to receive her masters in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan. Although she contracted polio the same year, the determined young engineer defied the odds and taught herself to walk with two metal canes. She went on to become the first woman to design and test aircraft. Though her disability prevented her from becoming a pilot, she insisted on being a passenger on all test flights to better understand the planes’ performance. During World War II, MacGill became chief engineer of the Hawker Hurricane, a fighter plane used during the Battle of Britain. In 1943, MacGill married William Soulsby, moved to Toronto and started her own consulting firm. Beyond work, MacGill became an author and actively supported women in business. Among her numerous honours were the Order of Canada, the 1967 centennial medal and the Amelia Earhart medal from the International Association of Women Pilots. She was also inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame and the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame. She died in 1980 at the age of 75. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
March 26, 1984 - Bora Laskin
2:35Bora Laskin dies while Chief Justice of Canada’s Supreme Court. Born in Fort William (Thunder Bay), Ontario on October 5, 1912, Bora Laskin pursued education in a big way: He earned his bachelor of arts, masters of arts, and bachelor of laws degrees from the University of Toronto and his masters of laws from Harvard Law School. Shortly after being called to the bar, Laskin taught at the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School, also publishing and editing notable legal texts and reports. His first appointment as a judge in 1965 was prestigious: the Ontario Court of Appeal. Within five years, he’d been appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada – the first Jewish person in Canada to sit on the top bench. Less than four years later, as chief justice, Laskin set about modernizing the court and allowing more parties (interveners) to have a say in cases of national importance. He also disagreed so often with court decisions, he was dubbed the “great dissenter.” Although many credit him with influencing future interpretations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, he didn’t live to see that impact himself. On March 26, 1984, less than two weeks after becoming a Companion of the Order of Canada, and while he was still Chief Justice, Laskin died at the age of 71. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
March 25, 1994 - Simon Thwaites
2:32Can’t fire HIV-positive naval seamen, federal Court of Canada warns. After enlisting with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in 1980, Simon Thwaites spent six years progressing to the rank of master seaman, where he spent most of his time on naval vessels. The same year, the Canadian Red Cross informed him he was HIV positive. He voluntarily told the CAF, but when staff there learned he was homosexual, they downgraded his security clearance to a level that made it impossible to do his job. Forced to accept menial work on shore, he found himself issued an honourable discharge in November 1989. The CAF argued that any other postings lacked the ready access to medical facilities his condition required. Thwaites took his case to the federal Human Rights Tribunal, which ruled that the CAF had discriminated against him based on his disability. He was awarded $147,015 for past and future loss of wages, $5,000 for special compensation, plus interest and costs. The CAF appealed in federal court, which upheld the ruling in favour of Thwaites on March 25, 1994. The court found that HIV was not a legitimate reason to be discharged, and that Thwaites should have been given a legitimate assessment of his ability to do his job. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
March 24, 1853 - Mary Ann Shad
2:58The Provincial Freeman first published by Mary Ann Shad. Mary Ann Shadd was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the oldest of 13 children to Harriet and Abraham Shadd. Both her parents were leaders in the Underground Railroad, which helped black slaves reach freedom in Canada. Her parents sent her to a Quaker school, and her love of learning led her to open a school for black children, then to continue teaching for years. When the U.S. Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, forcing authorities in all states to send black slaves back to captivity in the south, Shadd and her brother Isaac moved to Canada. On March 24, 1853, Shadd and Rev. Samuel Ringgold Ward edited and published The Provincial Freeman, a weekly newspaper dedicated to the ideals of freedom and educating black people in Canada and the United States. In this process, Shadd became the first black woman publisher in North America and the first woman publisher in Canada. The paper was first published in Windsor, then Toronto and then Chatham, Ontario and continued until September 20, 1857. The newspaper was considered aggressive for its time as Shadd and others were critical of those who took advantage of freed slaves, and critical of black religious leaders in the south for not encouraging blacks to become self-reliant. The paper read, "Self-reliance Is the Fine Road to Independence." Shadd married Thomas F. Cary from Toronto in 1856 and while living in Chatham, they had two children. Cary died in 1860 and eventually Shadd moved to Washington, D.C. where she established a school for black children and studied law at Howard University, becoming a lawyer in 1870. Shadd died in Washington on June 5, 1893. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
March 23, 1933 - Adolph Hitler
2:50Germany grants Adolph Hitler dictatorial powers. How did Adolph Hitler rise to power? For various and strange reasons, Hitler was sworn in as chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, and his cabinet’s few Nazis were assigned key positions, including control of the police. Weeks later, the Nazis burned down the German Parliament building (the Reichstag) and blamed it on the communists. Hitler used the event as an excuse to con President Hindenburg and the cabinet into passing emergency laws that quashed freedom of speech, a free press, the right to assemble and most other basic rights. The stage was set, and the Nazis proceeded to use brutish and murderous tactics and spend millions of marks to win the next election. When they managed to win only 44 per cent of the popular vote on March 5th, Hitler decided to employ another strategy to grasp full control. He drafted changes to the constitution that would essentially create a dictatorship. He called his proposal the Enabling Act, or “the law for removing the distress of the people and the Reich.” Two-thirds of the Reichstag had to support the act to turn it into law, and Hitler found himself 31 votes short. By the time he’d applied various methods of persuasion and pressure, the Catholic Centre Party delivered him the votes he required on March 23, 1933. Only the 84 Social Democrats voted against giving Hitler his new dictatorial powers. In the end, the elected representatives of Germany gave Hitler all the power he needed. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
March 22, 1984 - Jane Gray
2:12Canada’s first women radio broadcaster, Jane Gray, dies. Only a few years after landing her first radio broadcasting job in London, Ontario on CJGC at the age of 28, Jane beat out 90 other applicants to host a cooking program on Toronto’s CFRB radio. Many Torontonians remember Gray’s public appearances, where she dressed in native costume and played Indian princess Mus-Kee-Kee to answer questions from the station’s listeners. A savvy broadcaster who even dabbled in buying and selling radio time slots, she moved from radio to television in its early years, the 1940s. Perhaps her best known television work was as daily host of the Jane Gray Show on CHCH TV. When asked about her career, Gray was fond of saying, “I’ve done it all.” She died on March 22, 1985. Three years later, she became the first woman radio performer to be inducted into the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.