Road Map Action 5

Host an annual Day of Dignity to recognize and honour human rights and dignity for all.

Road Map Timeline: Years 1 - 5

EPE Strategy priority alignment: #9 - Make Edmonton a “human rights city.”

Initiative Name:

Initiative Lead Organization:

John Humphrey Centre has lead development for and built on YEG Dignity Day since 2015 through work with partners and by building on outreach to schools and community through innovative and responsive programming that seeks to challenge the stigmas and complex narratives around poverty and dignity in Edmonton.

In the fall of 2017, John Humphrey Centre delivered the YEG Dignity campaign as planned. A focus was delivering a program around the Dignity Toolkit to schools in Edmonton, our big success was with Garneau school, who installed a Buddy Bench to create a safe and welcome space for those who may feel left out or lonely. For Dignity Day 2018, a revised curriculum has been produced, and a further delivery of the curriculum has taken place with Evansdale School.

Dignity Day 2017 focused on the dignity of persons within institutions — prisons, mental health facilities, long term housing for persons with disabilities, seniors and children in care. The full day event was held at Boyle St Plaza and drew approximately 127 people. The program included a community art and music showcase; Two advocacy circles addressing challenges in accessing agencies, systems and other institutional experiences; and a panel discussion on prisons. There was a strong focus on the experience of those living in poverty and individuals whose lives are dependant or mediated by institutions. Some of the issues and barriers brought up included stigma, poverty, complex trauma, lack of accessibility, isolation and poor supports towards mental and physical health.

Attending were partners from agencies including End Poverty Edmonton, Elizabeth Fry Society, Quarters Arts, iHuman Youth Society, Self Advocacy Federation, Gateways, Boyle Street Community Services, Alberta Human Rights Commission and the City of Edmonton. Local vendors included Street Prints, DayOne, Matthew Cardinal and Eric Smallboy. The advocacy circles, each drawing around a dozen participants, focused on healthcare in Alberta and the Alberta Commission of Human Rights. Solutions were explored by bringing together people who work within systems and those who are trying to navigate them, generating vital discussions on systemic change and key gaps.

Over the course of the event,  25 members of the public contributed to art making while reflecting on Dignity, at our collage table. Much of the art will be integrated into future JHC resources and reporting.

Knowledge keeper Gary Moostoos, grounded us with a blessing, treaty acknowledgement and reflections on his understanding of Dignity. Teepee Treats provided bannock and stew for all, while we enjoyed performances from local dancers Kinetic Form and poetry readings from Brandon Wint, Vicki Moses. Angel Morningstar and a few iHuman youth who performed songs. The program culminated in an all female panel discussion on prisons and dignity, especially focusing on the experiences of incarcerated women.

YEG Dignity 2018 aims to highlight the intersectionality of lived experiences of the community living with disabilities in and around Edmonton. This initiative is an effort to amplify the voice of people with disability and their daily struggle to end poverty and be included in Edmonton. The goal is to educate the able bodied community to understand the privileges of ableism and be aware of the systemic barriers.

YEG Dignity 2018 will fall on Global Dignity Day, October 17, 2018 at the Grindstone Theater, 11 am to 9 pm which is also the International Day for the Elimination of Poverty. The event will include disability rights workshops as well as theatre performances by and for the disability community. We are excited to have developed a strong partnership with Rapid Fire Theatre, allowing us to offer a 6 series improv workshop this fall for participants to build sketches with a disability lens, to perform at the October event. In addition, we have been working since November 2017 with members of the disability community to create 4 short films that address and educate on relevant issues related to accessibility, independence, marginalization and poverty. These short films will be incorporated into the evening program and made available as education resources for the public to gain insight and understanding on the realities of living with a disability. We also continue to rely on our key partnerships with disability activists at Self Advocacy Federation, Gateway Association, Voices of Albertans with Disability, EndPovertyEdmonton; as well as supports from Grindstone theatre and Rapid Fire Theatre and community stakeholders like the Edmonton Coalition for Human Rights.

This day will also bring together young Edmontonians from partners schools  and adults with lived experiences who will help reflect on dignity and disabilities in Edmonton. Connections with local artists are already in the works.

In addition, a public campaign will promote Human Rights and dignity through a YEG Dignity Day Poster, website info,  video clips, and social media posts with the hashtags #YEGDignity and #HumanRightsCity. This campaign will be led by JHC and partners and leverage EndPovertyEdmonton’s digital media.


Learn more about the 2018 #YEGDignity Campaign


Public and MEDIA INQUIRY CONTACT: (780) 453-2638 or John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights

Last Updated: August 8, 2018