Kasari Govender is British Columbia’s first independent human rights commissioner.
She began her five-year term on September 3, 2019.
What are human rights?
Human rights is fundamentally about human dignity. At the heart of human rights is equality. By equality I don’t mean treating everybody exactly the same, I mean treating people according to their unique needs and circumstances. We each come to the world with a complex set of identities and histories and contexts and we need to be treated according to that complexity in order to be treated equally.
Why do human rights matter to you?
I am deeply passionate and committed to working on human rights. And that is in large part due to the deep roots my family has in the social justice movements of our time. My mother spent her life and career working to combat gender-based violence. My father grew up as an Indian person under the apartheid regime in South Africa. And those experiences were very formative for me in understanding how racism and sexism impact us all. It really embedded in me this commitment to spend my life and my passion and my energies working on human rights.
Why is human rights education so important?
I’ve spent my career thinking about how to change the law and policies and how government needs to treat people. Those issues are fundamental to human rights, but what is also fundamental to human rights and to creating a culture of human rights, is really changing the hearts and minds of people and how they feel about discrimination and how they understand it, and how they understand their rights and obligations in that regard. So that is why educating people about human rights is so fundamental to this project of equality that we are working on.
Kasari Govender, Human Rights Commissioner
B.C.’s independent voice for promoting and protecting human rights.