Rights Talk: Youth and Civil Liberties Conference 2016

November 23, 2016

SFU Harbour Centre, 515 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3
8:30 am

We are pleased to present the 12th annual Rights Talk: Youth and Civil Liberties Conference taking place from 8:30am to 3:00pm on November 23, 2016 at SFU Harbour Centre.

* Students must register for their preferred afternoon sessions by following the link below. This process is first come, first served until the sessions are full. Please note that this process is only for students and teachers who have had their participation confirmed in advance by conference coordinator Nathanel Lowe. There are no additional spots for this conference at this time.*

Click here to register here for your workshops.

Event Schedule

Keynote Information:

Name: Grand Chief Stewart Phillip


Bio: In October 2008, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip concluded his fourth consecutive four year term as Chief of the Penticton Indian Band (PIB), and served the Band as Chief for a total of 14 years. In addition, he served as an elected Band Councilor for a 10-year period. Aside from serving as a member of the PIB Council for a total of 24 years, Grand Chief Phillip continues to serve as the Chair of the Okanagan Nation Alliance.

In October 2006, the Okanagan Nation, led by the Elders of the Penticton Indian Band, acknowledged his lifetime commitment to the defense of Indigenous Peoples’ Title and Rights by bestowing on him and his family the rare honour of the title of Grand Chief.

Over the last 37 years, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip has worked within the Penticton Indian Band Administration holding a variety of positions such as, Band Administrator, Director of Land Management, Education Counselor, Economic Development Officer and Band Planner.

Aside from serving as a member of the PIB council for a total of 24 years, he is proud to be in his seventh three-year term as the President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

He has taken an active role in the defense of Aboriginal Title and Rights by readily offering support to Native communities in need. He has taken a personal approach seeing first-hand the impact of fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago, lobbying on Parliament Hill to defeat the First Nations Governance Act, standing with Elders of Treaty 8 against oil and gas development in the Peace River, burning referendum ballots with fellow chiefs in protest and has stood on the steps of the Legislature with 3000 other people united under the Title and Rights Alliance banner.

Grand Chief Phillip has been married for 32 years to his wife Joan. They have four grown sons, two daughters, six granddaughters and nine grandsons. He is currently enjoying his 29th year of sobriety. In this regard, he is a firm believer in leading by example.

“I hereby commit to work collectively with the Chiefs of the UBCIC, the First Nations Summit and the BC Assembly of First Nations. We must work together to ensure the governments of Canada and British Columbia endorse and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for our Nations and communities. We must work together to compel government to update the Comprehensive Claims Policy to reflect the many hard-fought court victories such as the Delgamuuk’w, Haida and William cases” — Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

Panel Information:

Panel title: Poverty, Rights and the Law

Panel description: Poverty and economic inequality are major issues in Canada, including significant homelessness and food insecurity. Many individuals, community groups, non-profit organizations and politicians are concerned about these issues, and are trying to address them in a variety of ways. The law can be a powerful tool for social change – think of the legalization of same-sex marriage or the overturning of Canada’s prohibition against physician-assisted dying – but there are some unique questions that are raised when we think of the law as a potential tool to combat poverty. Our panelists will unpack some of these unique questions for us today!


Name: Laura Track


Bio: Laura is a lawyer with the BC Civil Liberties Association. On behalf of the BCCLA, Laura is directing litigation challenging the use of solitary confinement in Canadian prisons, second-class citizenship, and many other issues. She completed her law degree at UBC and a Masters degree at Oxford, where she focused her research on economic and social rights. She has a keen interest in how the law can be used to fight poverty and advance economic and social rights like the right to housing, food and health.

Name: DJ Larkin


Bio: DJ is a lawyer and campaigner for housing justice with Pivot Legal Society. Pivot is a human rights organization that uses the law to address the root causes of poverty and social exclusion in Canada. That work is grounded in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, where so many people experience the negative impacts of marginalization. Pivot challenges the laws and policies that force people to the margins of society and keep them there. Over the past decade, they’ve won major victories for sex workers’ rights, police accountability, health and drug policy, and affordable housing. DJ’s work focuses largely on the criminalization of homelessness. She works with her clients to challenge laws that displace people, change systems of housing that infringe on the human rights of low-income renters, and fights housing policies and practices that put marginalized tenants at risk. She is committed to working with her clients to create a community that respects and values all of its members.

Name: BC Supreme Court Justice Barbara Fisher




1. Know Your Protest Rights

with Charlotte Kingston

The BCCLA believes that protest is a critical part of free expression and assembly rights. We aim to make sure people are informed of their rights and safe when they do so. This workshop includes information on laws related to protest, expression, and assembly, and tips for exercising those rights in safe and legal ways.

Bio: Charlotte joined the BCCLA while completing her MA in Political Science at UBC. She has worked as a facilitation trainer for youth and community groups, and for several post-secondary student organizations promoting access to education.  She is passionate about creating opportunities for democratic dialogue between all segments of Canadian society, and engaging community members in important conversations about public policy.

 2. Power Play: Marginalization in the Law

with Afie Bozorgebrahimi

In this session, we use games and activities to facilitate discussions about power, discrimination and equality. It serves as a brief introduction to equality law in Canada, introducing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and looking at some of the cases where it has been used. If you are interested in social change and how the law can be used to further it, don’t miss this session! Brought to you by the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund.

Bio: Afie is currently a geography student at UBC, specializing in environment & sustainability. Her studies sparked her interest in social and ecocnomic sustainability, and the huge role that equality plays in this. Afie’s social justice passions lie especially in anti-racism, decolonization, and of course all things gender. When she’s not in class, locked in the library, or doing workshops, you can find her shouting her love for salt and vinegar chips and used-book stores from the rooftops.

 3. Building Movements for Systemic Change: Immigration Detention

with Ayendri Perera

Using immigration detention as a case study, we will unpack the systems that perpetuate this issue and then discuss some of the tactics that create effective movements towards social justice.


Ayendri is a Sri Lankan born and Vancouver based activist, facilitator and youth organizer. She is passionate about intersectional social movements and has been active in organizing centered in anti-oppression, decolonization and environmental justice. In the past Ayendri was a committed organizer with the End Immigration Detention Campaign in Ontario and is currently organizing with No One Is Illegal Vancouver.

4. Power, Discrimination and Anti-Oppression

with Lydia Luk

Want to talk about what we mean by the words we toss around when speaking about diversity? Lydia’s workshop will address the big picture topics that structure our relationships to schools, friends and communities and broaden perspectives about accessibility, inclusion, power and privilege.

Bio: Lydia has a passion working with diverse communities. From her volunteer experiences working with seniors to her extensive work with queer youth in the Lower mainland, Lydia brings her enthusiasm for community development and experience in community mobilization, engagement and development with respect to social justice and queer issues. As an alumni of Youth Facilitate This! Workshops of PeerNetBC, Lydia has truly come full circle to be part of the PeerNetBC team now as a community developer.

5. Compassion: Why Do We Bother?

with James Tigchelaar

People from socially disadvantaged places are more likely to contract HIV, live with addictions, and die prematurely than the socially advantaged. How do we respond to this as individuals and as a society? What challenges does this present in providing health care in these areas? Is it human nature to be caring, or are we more likely to abandon those who can’t ‘make it’ to suffer? In this work­shop we will examine the tension between selfishness and caring, and try to work out how to respond.

Bio: James is an educator with the BC Centre for Disease Control. He worked with the Outreach Program (Street Nurse Program) since 1991, first as a front line nurse, then as the clinical/outreach supervisor, and then as the Outreach Education Leader. Much of James’ current work in education involves working with students in the health professions, as well as nurses and other health and social service providers to address the challenges related to providing effective and accessible care to people who are most vulnerable to STI, Hepatitis and HIV.

If you’re interested in volunteering for this event, please send your name and contact information to Mike, BCCLA Youth Conference Volunteer Co-ordinator. 

Please note: there will be a required 2-hour Volunteer Orientation on November 21st, prior to the Youth Conference.