United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review


Written by: Meaghan Erbus, Community Engagement Manager

On July 18, Indigenous groups and civil society organizations were invited to provide feedback to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council regarding their recommendations for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

The UPR is a process in which UN member states review human rights records and provide an opportunity for each state to declare what actions they have taken to improve their human rights situations and what needs to be done in order to fulfil their obligations.

Civil society groups like Winnipeg Harvest were asked to come to the table to discuss the recommendations that came from the UN Human Rights Council and provide feedback that identifies existing gaps in human rights protection in communities across Canada.

The morning session was a round-table discussion about issues including the rights of Indigenous peoples, economic, social and cultural rights and discrimination and equality of rights. In the afternoon, we were all given an opportunity to provide feedback and have an open discussion.

As many of you know, Winnipeg Harvest is a food distribution and training centre that works with a network of over 400 agencies including food banks, soup kitchens and community groups. Together we work to share nutritious food with hungry Manitobans each month. Our advocacy efforts focus on food, health and education, three themes that were discussed throughout the day. Food banks have become a part of Canada’s fabric and are a symptom of many of the important issues we discussed throughout the day. Income, affordable housing and access to education are the prime issues that have aided in Canada’s high poverty rate and the need for access to food.

Our community partners came to the sessions with passion, frustration and action-focused solutions. It was motivating to hear different stories from grassroots organizations like Winnipeg Harvest and to connect with them around common issues. Winnipeg Harvest used their voice to advocate for food security and learned of different ways to better serve the community.

We are looking forward to the release of the report in August 2018 and seeing what our neighbours cross-Canada have had to say.