Sask. Human Rights Chief Commissioner says education and awareness is key

Chief Commissioner Barry Wilcox speaks at the Coronet Hotel on March 9, 2023 as part of the Prince Albert Chamber of Commerce Lunch Series. -- Bailey Sutherland/Daily Herald.

Chief Commissioner for the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission Barry Wilcox paid a visit to the members of the Prince Albert Chamber of Commerce for a presentation on human rights for employers as part of the Chamber’s Lunch Series held at the Coronet Hotel Thursday.

Wilcox spoke about how complaints received by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission most commonly involve the workplace, typically on the grounds of nationality, race, sex, or gender identity.

On average, the Sask. Human Rights Commission deals with an estimated 650 formalized complaints but that number is increasing every year.

“With all the publicity that’s been around [about] colonialism, First Nations, [and] reconciliation, people are becoming more aware,” Wilcox said. “It happens when something gets around the world, then people start to say, ‘hey, I got something like that.’”

The increasing immigrant population in the province could also be contributing to the rise in complaints, as it creates an environment that is “more conducive to infractions,” said Wilcox.

He added that educating the public by doing workshops, conferences, and events like the one on Thursday is important for awareness.

“The people that get their rights trampled on, often aren’t aware of what is available for them in those circumstances, what is there to protect them,” said Wilcox. “My first love is on the preventative side, getting people to communicate and understand each other’s perspective.”

Wilcox said it all comes down to respecting your fellow man and woman.

“If we could like in a society where everyone respected everybody, we wouldn’t have confrontation because confrontation comes out of a lack of respect.”