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This article was published 23/10/2017 (1712 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
After nearly two decades of advocating for and advancing human rights in Manitoba, Brenlee Carrington Trepel will now lead the pursuit of equity in the province.
Carrington Trepel, 55, was appointed chairperson of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission by the province on Oct. 6.
She takes over as chairperson from Yvonne Peters, who served in the position for four years. The commission is responsible for administering the Human Rights Code — which turns 30 years old this year — and ensuring Manitobans are treated on the basis of personal merit and are free from discrimination, according to the province.
"It’s a deep, deep honour for me, when I look at the work that the commission does in assisting to create an increasingly inclusive province in which everyone is treated with respect and dignity," Carrington Trepel said.
Carrington Trepel, who hails from River Heights, has served as a lawyer, was the Law Society of Manitoba’s first equity ombudsman, was instrumental in creating the Canada Law Society Parental Leave Support Program, and led the Lawyers Daycare Initiative.
She said her desire to work for the equal treatment of others was instilled at an early age.
"I’ve always been passionate about human rights from the day I was born. I was raised by an amazing family, but also a mother who really instilled in me the values of treating everyone with respect and dignity, and of never stereotyping or labelling people," she said.
"She always emphasized the importance of ‘do unto others.’"
Carrington Trepel was called to the bar in 1999 after graduating from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law. She said her career and the law continues to be informed by the Manitoba Human Rights Code with the next three years presenting a number of new opportunities to advance the status of human rights and the commission.
"When people are discriminated against because of their religion or gender, it can destroy a person’s life when there’s harassment involved, to be able to have a human rights commission, it’s so fundamental to our freedom," she said.
During her tenure, Carrington Trepel said the focus will remain on establishing the commission as the primary resource for the public on human rights, enhancing its education branch, and continually improving its service standards for people who make human rights complaints. The commission is also working with the province’s school divisions to increase the capacity of schools to deal with discrimination, she said.
However, the biggest challenge facing the commission is raising its public profile, Carrington Trepel said.
"As awareness of our human rights laws increases, we know that we will be closer to removing barriers and making the kinds of systemic changes which we need to make in order to assist in insuring that all Manitobans are treated with respect and dignity," she said.
"That’s really something that is a goal of mine and the commission as a whole: to improve inclusivity and, in an ideal world, that everyone in this province is treated with respect and dignity."
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.