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Pasadena teen and Corner Brook native up for Human Rights Award

Corner Brook Regional High student Jessie Lawrence is looking forward to a future when everyone is accepted.
Jessie Lawrence
CORNER BROOK, N.L. —

A Pasadena teen and a man originally from Corner Brook are among eight people in the province who have been nominated for the 2019 Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Award.

Jessie Lawrence is a 2SLGBTQ+ advocate and a youth activist, while Craig Reid is an advocate for people with disabilities and accessibility needs.

Given out by the Human Rights Commission, the award recognizes an individual who has made and/or continues to make a meaningful contribution to advancing and furthering human rights in the province.

The award and Human Rights Champion recipients will be announced at a ceremony at Government House in St. John’s Dec. 5.

The timing of the presentation coincides with International Human Rights Day Dec. 10.

The nominees:

Jessie Lawrence, 2SLGBTQ+ advocate and youth activist

Growing up in a small town in Newfoundland and Labrador, Lawrence has seen how a community can shape youth. 

At 14, she decided to ensure that the community shaping was to be a positive one and became the co-founder and director of Camp Ohana, a 2SLGBTQ+ focused summer camp, by youth for youth

Lawrence is also vice-president of Franco Jeunes de Terre-Neuve et Labrador.

Craig Reid, advocate for persons with disabilities and accessibility needs

Reid is the chair of the Universal Design Network, board of directors of Coalition of Persons With Disabilities, advocate for persons with disabilities and accessibility needs. 

Born in Corner Brook and now living in Mount Pearl, Reid became aware of the challenges and barriers in the built environment when faced with his own disability. After spearheading changes to accessible parking legislation, he continues educating governments, municipalities and industry on the need for Universal Design to be part of their strategy. 

Lynn Moore, advocate for survivors of sexual abuse

Moore is a founding partner of Morris Martin Moore law firm and works almost exclusively in the area of sexual abuse litigation. 

Before entering private practice, she spent 20 years as a Crown attorney. In 2013, she decided to leave the civil service to represent survivors of sexual abuse, working to get financial compensation for them.

Moore is also the chair of the board of directors of Iris Kirby House and O’Shaughnessy House and sits on the board of the SKS Children’s Centre. 
 
Bridget Foster, advocate for immigrants and refugees

Foster was awarded the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2014 for over 30 years of service in the immigration/settlement sector. Her accomplishments include receipt of the Paul Yuzyk Lifetime Achievement Award for Multiculturalism in 2012, as well as Her Majesty’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals in 2004 and 2012. 

Foster has been involved with the Canadian Council for Refugees, the National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women and the RCMP Race Relations Committee. 

She was also the driving force behind the formation of the Atlantic Region Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies and the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance. 
 
Jennifer McCreath, human rights activist and trans rights trailblazer

McCreath identifies as a “woman born transsexual” who became an advocate for the growth and development of the scope and mandate of the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission after her 2009 complaint against the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Care Program was deemed “out of scope.” 

McCreath successfully played a key role in helping to break down “gender binary” barriers in international sports. 

She penned and helped implement an inclusion policy that allowed for the sanctioning of trans-athletes at the 2009 World Outgames in Copenhagen, at the Boston Marathon and local events run by the Newfoundland and Labrador Athletic Association. 

She co-founded St. John's Pride Inc. and the East Coast Trans Alliance in 2010. 
 
Heidi Edgar, social worker and justice program manager

Edgar is the manager of the Justice Program with the Canadian Mental Health Association — Newfoundland and Labrador division. 

Edgar has been awarded both a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in social work from The University of Western Ontario. She also holds a certificate in criminology from Memorial University.

Since her return to the province in 2009, Edgar has worked in both adolescent and adult mental health. 

In her current role she leads a team that provides in-reach mental health services to inmates of Her Majesty’s Penitentiary with a diagnosed mental illness. 
 
Kimberly Churchill, human rights advocate

Churchill grew up recognizing the importance of community involvement and started volunteering at the age of 12. She has been the recipient of many awards, including Canadian Diabetes Distinguished Dedication Award and the Youth Volunteer Corps Role Model of the Year Award. 

Most recently she has been a strong advocate for deaf and hard of hearing children, which has gained national attention, and founded the non-profit organization Children’s Language Acquisition Support System Inc. to support language acquisition for deaf, hard of hearing and non-speaking children. 
 
Myles Murphy, advocate for persons who are deaf

Murphy was born on Bell Island, a profoundly deaf child to hearing parents. His life work has been committed to removing barriers for the "silent minority" through his employment and volunteerism in the community. 

Murphy has extensive volunteer experiences with the Canadian Association of the Deaf, Disability Policy Office, Provincial Advisory Council for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities among other organizations. 

In his role as executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of the Deaf, Murphy has implemented specific services and programs that had direct positive outcomes in improving equality and inclusion for people who are deaf. 

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