|Rights and democracy at FNUC|
by Delaney Windigo
A two day conference at the First Nations University of Canada (FNUC) launched the Rights and Democracy Network's new online magazine. The publication was designed to look at the relationship between culture and human rights. This is an extension of the mandate of the Rights and Democracy Network. "[We want] to promote human rights and democratic devel- opment in developing countries," said Genevieve Paul, liaison officer for the Right and Democracy Network. The conference was the first of its kind to be held in Regina and students from many universities across Western Canada attended to discuss human rights and democratic development. Rights and Democracy is a governmental organization creat- ed by a law passed in Parliament in 1988. The network itself was created four years ago. Most of the direct action is done overseas in developing coun- tries. However, the Rights and Democracy Network works with Canadian universities as well as universities abroad to encourage human rights education. There are currently 40 delegations throughout the Canadian provinces and the Yukon. The Canadian university campus clubs are usually paired up with a delegation from abroad as part of a program called "inter- national twinnings." Through these "twinnings" both delegations work on a year long project furthering a jointly decided topic. During that year both delegations will study the others' country and learn about various issues within that country, such as the election process or governmental departments. Any student from any university can start a delegation for the Rights and Democracy Network. "The network is trying to reach as many youth as possible," Paul said. "Anybody with their own perspective can bring inter- esting projects related to human rights." Students who have been a part of the Rights and Democracy Network have found their work fulfilling. Katryna Smith a stu- dent attending FNUC has been a member of the network since 2005 and has completed an internship through them. She is excit- ed about the range of topics she is learning. "[The network] train[s] students to use human rights in their professions," she said. Often the campus chapters are very diverse groups, attracting students from various faculties to work on the projects. "The thing I like about Rights and Democracy is that you get a lot of freedom to focus on issues that your delegation wants to focus on," said Jennifer Montebruno, an international studies stu- dent at the University of Manitoba. Whether you want to start a delegation, or just make a contri- bution to the online magazine, anyone can find it fun and fulfill- ing. "It encourages community development and community interaction. It's been a great experience to have empowerment as a student and be able to have resources and training on projects that might have been difficult had you just been doing it on your own," said Montebruno. Anyone who is interested in joining the Rights and Democracy Network can do so online at www.rightsdemocracy.org.