Winnipeggers passed a torch around Central Park for an annual event this weekend, casting a spotlight on the continued importance of human rights.
Manitobans for Human Rights, an organization created eight years ago with the goal of educating Manitobans about the importance of human rights, held their seventh annual Torch of Dignity relay on Sunday.
The event featured human rights speakers and live entertainment as well as artisan, career and resource booths.
Zara Kadhim, the logistics coordinator for the organization, said although the event was downsized this year, the hope was to bring the community together.
“Education is the first step,” she told Radio-Canada in an interview, adding that the province still has a long way to go.
Friendly Manitoba is doing a lot better than many places in the world when it comes to human rights, Kadhim said, but issues like homelessness, MMIWG2S and immigrant and refugee struggles are becoming more normalized in the province.
“We’re almost desensitized to human rights violations,” she said.
The aim of the relay was to bring awareness to those issues and focus on peoples’ similarities instead of their differences, said Kadhim.
The peer support organization Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba, where all staff have lived experience with anxiety, had their own resource booth at the event.
“Mental health is a human right,” said Vienna Code, the public education and communications coordinator for ADAM. “We need to promote it a bit more and understand that all humans deserve the right to mental health services.”
With the pandemic seemingly winding down, Code said more people are having difficulties with addressing their nerves.
“People think they shouldn’t be anxious anymore or have those thoughts,” she said.
Anxiety and mental health concerns are common, she said, and ADAM acts as a stepping stone for people to see what next steps they have to take to address their mental health issues.
Code said it’s important for younger people to have earlier interventions when it comes to mental health issues.
“I think there still continues to be a stigma around mental health and I think that’s the hardest hurdle for people, to step and reach out for help.”
Sarah Parker, executive assistant of the Islamic Social Services Association, said the association took part in the event to encourage people to be open to learning about Islam and Muslims.
“In a way, if they know about Islam and Muslims, then we can fight the stereotypes,” she said.
“We believe that at the heart of human rights is human dignity.”