By Tina Comeau
A video produced by students and staff of Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School has won one of four 2012 Human Rights Awards presented in recognition of work promoting human rights in the province.
At a Dec. 10 ceremony, receiving the youth award was No Glory Productions, which was comprised of 27 students that produced a video on racism during the last school year. The video was put together to mark the International Day to End Racism on March 21. Rather than take clips from the Internet, the video is about the students’ own experiences with racism. The students involved included students from Yarmouth County and students who were attending the school as part of the international student program.
“We knew the students we worked with every day had powerful stories to tell us,” said teacher Rebecca Fraser, who assisted the students with the project along with Steve Berry, the African Nova Scotian student support worker at the high school. “The result was without question a life-changing event for both Steve and I. Whenever we feel that we just can't fight the good fight anymore because we are being shut down by others, we watch this video. We are motivated to keep on fighting for those who cannot always fight for themselves and to always give them a voice.”
Fraser said anyone who watches the video would not be able to bury their heads in the sand and say racism does not exist.
“The video makes racism real. Once is becomes real, we now have to own it. Only by owning that racism exits in our world, can we begin to end it,” she said, calling the students very brave for sharing their stories. “Our greatest desire for these young people is that they understand they have great power to make positive change in the world.”
The awards were presented by the Human Rights Commission at an International Human Rights Day Event at Millwood High School in Halifax Regional Municipality.
"Protecting and promoting human rights is a passion I share with the recipients," said David Shannon, CEO and executive director of the Human Rights Commission. "Having their dedication and insight as part of the cause makes it very rewarding,” he said about he students’ video project.
The video project was called No Glory Production for a couple of reasons, notes Fraser. One, because at the time they didn’t make the video for any personal honours. But more importantly because there was no glory in making an anti-racism in 2012. But if the message needs to be told, students will continue to tell it Fraser said.
“We have vowed to make a new video every year until there are no more stories of racism to be told by the students of Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School,” she said. “In the lifetime of these young people, we must eradicate racism and intolerance from our world.”
Also receiving the Human Rights Awards were:
• Jake MacDonald of Wolfville and Christine Porter of Sydney in the individuals category.
MacDonald, a survivor of a brain injury, is a past president of the Annapolis Valley Chapter of the Brain Injury Association. He was honoured for his work and initiatives to educate the public and health-care professionals about brain injury prevention.
Porter is the executive director, AIDS Coalition of Cape Breton/Sharp Advice Needle Exchange. She was recognized for her commitment and dedication to injection drug users and people living with mental illness and addiction. She educates health professionals and health institutions about the needs of these people.
• The Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax was the recipient in the organization category. For 29 years the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre has offered support, education, counselling and advocacy for women who have experienced sexual violence. The centre also provides education programs and has developed community resources.
International Human Rights Day marked on Dec. 10 celebrates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations on Dec. 10, 1948. It is credited with shaping human rights around the world. A Canadian, John Humphrey, drafted the original document.
The YCMHS students involved in No Glory Productions were:
Tatiane Moreira Rodrigues
Deok Hwan Gyeong