Prior to the first Daughters Day event in September, 2012, CCS had two special events in the spring of the year to begin to lay the foundation for its signature event. As part of the groundwork, the first community engagement was held at a coffee house – The Carrot – that featured the talents and sharing of Indigenous women. The second such session was organized at NorQuest College with a focus on the experiences of newcomer women.
As an annual feature, the Daughters Day is now one among the key community activities that most Edmontonians look forward to every fall. For more on Daughters Day
On October 11, 2013, CCS marked the International Day of the Girl Child with an event at Grant McEwan University that featured a screening of the movie Three Deadliest Words in the World and a keynote address by Rumana Monzur, an Assistant Professor at Dhaka University who is now studying law after completing MS in political science at the University of British Columbia. She was blinded by her husband Hasan Sayeed Sumon in a brutal attack during a trip back home in 2011. While domestic violence had left her blind for life, she surmounted obstacles by summoning the indomitable spirit to pursue higher education and stand up against gender violence. That one voice is now lending voices to many others.
The keynote speech was followed by a panel discussion.
In December 2013, CCS celebrated the 65th anniversary of the greatest gift of the 20th century, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to mark the Human Rights day at City Hall.
The audience enjoyed the birthday festivities with special guests David Evans, distinguished commentator and editorialist and Sen. Douglas Roche, ardent advocate of peace and human rights.
Hosted by CCS Board member Satya Das, who is also an author and co-founder of the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, the celebration was convened by the CCS and the Indo-Canadian Women’s Association, co-creator of Daughters Day.
In the fall of 2013, CCS began work on a handbook project – Together, creating a better world -, A handbook for community work to end gender discrimination. The heart of this was holding 15 consultations in Edmonton, Slave Lake, Red Deer, and Calgary with groups of women to ask them about how they saw a world where all girls would be able to become what they wished. Out of the consultations a book was born that was authored by CCS Board Member Jim Gurnett. It also featured an introduction by Satya Das, a CCS Board Member, and six in-depth profiles of women with compelling personal stories.
This handbook for community work to end gender discrimination was formally launched at a special event on June 18, 2014, along with the release of a biography – Truth, Love, Non-Violence: The Story of Gurcharan Singh Bhatia that presented the life of this prominent Edmonton human rights activist and longtime citizenship judge.
Funded by the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund of the Government of Alberta and published by the CCS, Together, creating a better world was the result of 15 conversations with women who met in late 2013 and early 2014 to discuss gender discrimination and the ways in which communities can facilitate change.
Says author Jim Gurnett, a CCS Board Member, in his introduction to the book: “It is not a philosophical treatise on issues of gender discrimination or an encyclopedia of the issues or the measures to address the issues…It is a modest, humble hand tool. It seeks to be practical…It is intended to support building new things, constructing homes, schools, communities, even a world, where gender discrimination no longer treats some women as less than other people…”
Following the launch, CCS donated copies of the handbook to public libraries around Alberta.
The launch featured readings from the authors of the two books as well as comments from Gene Zwozdesky, the then Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, and Jodi Abbott, CEO of NorQuest College. CCS Board Member Judge Bhatia and several of the women who participated in the conversations that formed the basis of the handbook were also in attendance.
In the fall of 2014, Daughters Day founders Gurcharan Bhatia (left) and Charan Khehra (right) met with Edmonton Strathcona Member of Parliament Linda Duncan to present a petition she took forward to the House of Commons.
The petition, with over 200 signatures, urged the government to act about the murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada.
As a modest commemoration of Human Rights Day as well as a holiday gathering with our members, partner organisations, and stakeholders, CCS organized an evening of stimulating discussion on December 9 at Stanley Milner Library. The theme of the evening was “Home” for the Holidays that discussed key issues of community living:
- – When and how does Edmonton become “home”?
- – How does Edmonton offer “home” for those who lack permanent shelter?
- – What is “home” as we chart new ways of belonging with one another, investing real meaning in the human right to peace?
A poetry reading was followed by a discussion and a speech by CCS Board Member Jim Gurnett on “Home for homeless”. The evening also featured a reading of a chapter from CCS Board Member Satya Das’ book in progress on the above theme.
On December 10, 2014, the Alberta Legislative Assembly acknowledged the collective responsibility of promoting and protecting human rights and dignity of all people through a Ministerial or Member’s Statement.
The then Premier and Ministers of Education, Human Services, Justice and Solicitor General, and Culture and Tourism, made a Ministerial Statement on Human Rights Day and introduced several community leaders, including CCS Board Members who were engaged in the work of promoting and protecting human rights. In addition, then Leaders of Opposition Danielle Smith, Dr. Raj Sherman, and Rachel Notley made Members’ Statements and also introduced some other CCS Board Members.
On April 15, 2015, CCS joined with the University of Alberta’s Peter Lougheed Leadership College to launch a citizen engagement called “Canadian Values, Canada’s Value”. This initiative had been designed to share visions and hopes for Canada that would take place for Canada’s 150th anniversary year in 2017.
The evening featured a panel consisting of former prime minister Kim Campbell, former minister of foreign affairs Lloyd Axworthy, author and senator Douglas Roche in conversation on Canadian values.
To mark the UN International Day of the Girl Child, Canadians for a Civil Society in partnership with Indo-Canadian Women’s Association organized the first public screening of Leslee Udwin’s India’s Daughter in Alberta, and probably in Canada, on October 15 at the Art Gallery of Alberta.
The documentary pays tribute to the remarkable short life of Jyoti Singh Pandey and documents the brutality of her gang-rape and murder in Delhi, India, December 2012.
The screening was followed by a Q & A with the filmmaker via Skype and a stimulating panel discussion that put a light on the issues of gender violence in Edmonton.
Members of the CCS Board along with other community leaders were introduced in the Alberta Legislative Assembly to mark the UN Human Rights Day. The occasion witnessed all-party statements on the importance of human rights and peace, and the positive role organizations like the CCS are playing in this regard.