Manitoba Human Rights Awards Announces 2017 Recipients



The Human Rights Commitment Award recognizes a person or group who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of the rights of Manitobans, beyond the work they do in their paid job or position. Alaya works at the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and is currently on the Winnipeg Police Board. Alaya is an advocate for human rights through her community work which is influenced by her own life experiences.  Alaya has sat on several community coalitions, including the sexually exploited youth community coalition, the 24/7 Safe Space subcommittee, and the Experiential Advisory Council. She has also participated in many conferences and events including marches for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the Trans Day of Remembrance.

Each year, the organizing committee puts out a Call to Artists to design a unique piece to serve as the award. This year, Marcela Salazar was selected to design the Human Rights Commitment Award.  Marcela is a Chilean-born Canadian artist who has studied art in both Chile and Winnipeg. Marcela has conducted several workshops and seminars including workshops at Artist Emporium and Winnipeg Art Gallery. She has also had her artwork in several group and solo Exhibitions. Marcela’s uses mixed media to create abstract pieces.  The award will be revealed at the awards reception on December 7. 




The Reconciliation Award is given to a person or group who is deserving of being honoured for their efforts to achieve reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Manitoba. Red Rising is a growing collective of people who produce a magazine, telling stories of Indigenous people, created by Indigenous people through a multitude of mediums. The magazine’s focus is to inspire and create a platform for Indigenous people to have their own voices heard in an Indigenous-led publication for all.  Red Rising recently released a special edition that focuses on youth as well as workshops and opportunities to bring Red Rising to the classroom. 

The Reconciliation Award was designed by Manitoba artist, Kathleen Noëlle Black in 2015. It was given out in 2015 as the Human Rights Commitment Award and a second piece was reserved to award in 2017.





The Sybil Shack Human Rights Youth Award recognizes the commitment of a person or group aged 25 years or younger whose work has impacted the advancement of rights and freedoms locally or internationally.  

Dakota Collegiate’s Co-President, Amina Mohamed began the search for a sports hijab to wear while playing for the varsity girls’ basketball team. When officials questioned Amina on her use of safety pins in her hijab as a safety concern, Amina addressed her concerns with her school principal. Together they were able to create a sport appropriate hijab which Amina and her younger sister Nusaybah were able to wear. Amina’s story made National headlines as the first school in Canada to provide sport hijabs to athletes as part of their school uniform which allows girls to comfortably participate in sports while upholding their religious and cultural beliefs. 

Alexa is the founder of Black Space Winnipeg, host of Raw Colours on CKUW 95.9fm, local vocal percussionist, and the former Racialized Student Commissioner with the Canadian Federation of Students. Alexa has spoken at many local events including TedX University of Winnipeg and We Day 2017, as well as several conferences throughout North America. Alexa advocates for the empowerment of all voices through social justice initiatives and grassroots activism.




The Aaron Berg Award recognizes a person involved in the legal profession who has contributed significantly to the advancement of human rights in Manitoba by way of their legal work.  The award was announced in 2016 to recognize the contributions of Aaron Berg, former counsel to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission and General Counsel with Manitoba Justice.  Aaron passed away in June 2017.  He  was an expert in human rights and administrative law, and represented the Commission in several high profile human rights cases, including Janzen v. Platy Enterprises and Brooks v. Canada Safeway, both of which established women’s rights in this country. Aaron was also involved in drafting The Human Rights Code to replace the former Human Rights Act.

Dr. Short is an Associate Professor of law at the University of Manitoba. He has several published works in the area of advancing human rights including the Every Teacher Project on LGBTQ- Inclusive Education in Canada in partnership with the Manitoba Teacher’s Society. Dr. Short is the author of Don’t Be So Gay: Queers, Bullying and Making Schools Safe and Am I Safe Here? which both focus on LGBTQ rights. Additionally, he has written playwrights around discrimination and bulling and has written works on the theme of youth violence. Dr. Short is also the founding and current Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Human Rights. 




Students in grades 1-6 were invited to submit a picture, paragraph or poem explaining why they believe human rights are important in Manitoba.

Phoenix, a grade five student at Whitemouth School was selected to light the candle to open the awards ceremony for her paragraph. Phoenix lives with her mom and dad and has five siblings. She loves doing art, decorating Christmas trees, and baking ginger bread cookies. When asked what she would like to be when she grows up Phoenix’s response was, “I’m really good with children age five or under. When I grow up, I want to work in a restaurant, or be a baby sitter”.  Phoenix will read her paragraph at the awards reception on December 7.

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