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Celebrating human rights

Don’t let indifference win
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Revera was the first company in the Canadian senior living sector to appoint a Chief Medical Officer. In her blog series, Dr. Rhonda Collins offers helpful advice for seniors to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

December 10th is Human Rights Day, recognizing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted on December 10th, 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly. This ground-breaking document outlines the 30 fundamental rights to which all human beings are entitled.

This is a revolutionary document. It is the first of its kind in history to declare that human rights are universal, and that all people are entitled to rights and freedoms regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. It took almost 30 years for Canada to enact the Canadian Human Rights Act which protects these rights and freedoms by law.
Indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor – never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten.
Even though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has now been around for more than 70 years and the Canadian Human Rights Act has been around for more than four decades, there is still a lot of work to do.

I think of this in the context of the people who work at Revera and the people who choose to make Revera their home. For example, it is worth remembering that the generation that brought us the Canada the Human Rights Act are the seniors of today. This makes it particularly disappointing that ageism remains the most tolerated form of social prejudice. Ageist policies and thoughts discourage the meaningful contributions of older adults in our society and disregard the impact older adults have had on our world.

Of course, older adults are by no means the only group of people who face discrimination. In a 2016 national polling report by CBC and Angus Reid, 68 per cent of Canadians said they would prefer to see minorities doing more to “fit in” to mainstream society. A 2017 CROP polling study of the LGBTQ community reported that 75 per cent of the respondents said they had been victims of bullying, 30 per cent higher than heterosexual respondents. Further, of those LGBTQ respondents who reported that they had experienced discrimination because of their sexual orientation, 40 per cent said it occurred in the workplace. In 2019, an Ipsos poll was conducted on behalf of Global News and found that 47 per cent of the 1002 adults polled felt racism was a serious problem, but this was down 22 points from 69 per cent in 1992. Worse still, almost 50 per cent felt that it was “okay and actually normal to have racist thoughts.”

These findings are surprising to me and I’m reminded that, as a white, heterosexual Canadian-born female, I may be a bit naïve about the prejudices that so many people face on a regular basis. I’m aware of the broad and diverse representation of races, ethnicities, religions, sexual identities, political and spiritual beliefs in our employees and residents at Revera. I know that our company is committed to doing everything we can to not only respect their rights but celebrate their diversity

We all have a responsibility to one another – a responsibility to speak out and take action to protect others’ rights. Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate and Auschwitz survivor said, “indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor – never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten.”

Let’s not be indifferent. Let’s respect one another’s differences. Stand up. Speak out. Respond. Let’s create an environment where everybody feels respected, safe and free to make their own choices and express their feelings.
Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Medical Officer of Revera
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Dr. Rhonda Collins brings passion and expertise in memory care, dementia, falls prevention and clinical quality improvement to the role of Revera’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Collins is a family physician with a certificate of added competence in Care of the Elderly from the College of Family Physicians of Canada.