We have 30 basic human rights, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, created by the United Nations in 1948 to provide a global understanding of how to treat individuals. Before I became National Youth Spokesperson for Youth For Human Rights International’s Canadian chapter in 2005 at the age of 16, I had no idea what my human rights were, and even though the document has been around for 61 years I know most people don’t.
Back in 2005, I was promoting anti-bullying through my tune “Song of Peace,” which led me to the Stop the Violence conference in Toronto, held by Michael “Pinball” Clemons, then coach for the Toronto Argonauts. I spoke on behalf of my generation, in front of teachers and community leaders. My three minutes grabbed the attention of Youth for Human Rights International, a non-profit organization teaching people their human rights. They asked if I would represent their organization. After seeing their “United” music video, a street-savvy, multi-ethnic, anti-bullying message, and their other video PSAs and printed materials, I accepted the position. I was titled National Youth Spokesperson and my first major assignment was to represent Canada at the 2006 International Human Rights Summit held at the United Nation headquarters in New York.
Human Rights is a global term we hear often, but many people can’t define. So the question is what are human rights? “Rights” are things we are allowed to be, to do or to have, simply by being human. We each own 30 basic human rights, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in my role as National Spokesperson, I have been speaking and singing my songs at elementary and high schools across Ontario. We hope to expand to the rest of Canada. I educate the kids about human rights and how it’s our responsibility to learn them and spread the word, since human rights are not taught in the schools or at home. My message to everyone is not political; it focuses on education. Even in Canada, a place of freedom, we still have issues of violence in homes and on the streets. By educating each other, we can hopefully, eventually, eliminate this.