Public School Board holds 4th Human Rights Symposium - December 8th and 9th

By Staff

December 3rd, 2022



The Halton District School Board is hosting the fourth annual Human Rights Symposium on Thursday, Dec. 8 and Friday, Dec. 9, 2022 to engage in vital conversations and challenge thinking.

This year’s theme is Environmental Rights, which explores the interconnectedness of globalization, environment, Indigenous Rights, human rights and our collective responsibility to protect our planet.

The symposiums were introduced when Stuart Miller was the Director of Education; they had a bumpy start with Covid19 interesuptions – the event is niw a important part of the zzz that the Board of Education delivers to the community.

The Human Rights Symposium will feature two keynote speakers and will be a virtual event for HDSB students (Grade 7-12) and staff. Registration is not required and information on how to access the event will be shared with students and staff.

Sheila Watt-Cloutier a member of the indigenous Inuit of Arctic Canada, Watt-Cloutier began her career working for social institutions that served Inuit communities. This led to a lifetime of activism and advocacy for the rights of Inuit people, and the realization that the survival of Inuit people and culture is inexorably linked to the survival of their Arctic environment, especially its cold climate.

Keynote speaker on Dec. 8 (9 – 10:30 a.m.): Sheila Watt-Cloutier is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, climate change and human rights advocate, TEDx speaker, author, former Canadian President and International Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. Sheila speaks with passion and urgency on the issues of today — the environment, the economy, foreign policy, global health and sustainability — not as separate concerns, but as a deeply interconnected whole.

Kehkashan Basu, founder of the Green Hope Foundation, says the transition to renewables creates opportunities to provide electricity to countries and communities that are not well served by existing utilities and grids. “It’s just kind of logical to use clean energy as a tool to help empower them instead of going the usual route of fossil-fuel powered electricity,” she says. “In this way, we’re leaving no one behind and we are creating a positive impact on the planet.

Keynote speaker on Dec. 10 (9:30 – 10:30 a.m.): Kehkashan Basu, global influencer, educator, environmentalist, champion of women and children’s rights, TEDx speaker, Climate Reality Mentor, author, musician, peace and sustainability campaigner. Kehkashan is the
Founder-President of global social innovation enterprise Green Hope Foundation, which works at a grassroots level in 26 countries, empowering over 400,000 young people and women in the sustainable development process through education.

Throughout the week, students and staff are encouraged to share what they are learning on social media with the hashtag: #EnvironmentalRightsHDSB.

“The Human Rights Symposium supports the Board’s Environmental Leadership and Indigenous Perspectives and Awareness work, two key areas of focus in the HDSB Multi-Year Strategic Plan 2020-2024 and our Human Rights Equity Action & Accountability Plan: The Way Forward,” says Curtis
Ennis, Director of Education for the HDSB. “The important work underway at the annual Human Rights Symposium serves as a reminder of the value of bringing students, staff and community partners together to address common issues.”

“The HDSB is proud to celebrate and recognize Environmental Rights at the Human Rights Symposium,” says Margo Shuttleworth, Chair of the HDSB. “The Trustees are honoured and excited to encourage you to engage, question and reflect on conversations surrounding environmental rights. Through proactive engagement in vital conversations, we are able to challenge traditional thinking and engage in focused learning about environmental rights and sustainability.”

“Environmental Rights and protection is our collective responsibility,” says Jennie Petko, Superintendent of Education with responsibility for Human Rights, Equity, Inclusive Education and Indigenous Rights. “This year’s Human Rights Symposium provides an opportunity for our HDSB community to discuss issues related to environmental preservation, Indigenous Rights and the interconnectedness of our planet.”

“We recognize the importance of participating in vital discussions to challenge our thinking. The Human Rights Symposium provides an opportunity for educators and students to come together to examine important issues and drive actionable change.”

Trent University students on an environmental field trip

The HDSB Human Rights Symposium (Dec. 8-9, 2022) aligns with Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, which is observed annually to recognize the day on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The principles originally enshrined in the Declaration are still relevant today.
If you want to follow up on this event reach out to the Board at

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