Office of Human Rights and Equity Services
Welcome to the Office of Human Rights & Equity Services (HRES). Our Office works with campus and community members to ensure that McMaster University is a place where all students, staff and faculty can learn, work and live in an inclusive and barrier-free environment that fosters equality, respect and accessibility.
HRES has three core program areas:
For more information, please Contact Us.
- The HRES Team
UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities
This year, in commemoration of the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Office of Human Rights and Equity Services’ Accessibility Program hosted a public lecture delivered by Dr. Ameil Joseph, Assistant Professor from McMaster University’s School of Social Work. Dr. Joseph’s lecture entitled; “Violent Interventions: Neo-colonization in contemporary forensic mental health and the (re)production of difference” explores the impact and legacy of colonial history on institutions such as the mental health system. He argues that these institutions support and reinforce existing inequities that impact racialized communities and particularly those experiencing the mental health system. “Often the public hears about a tragic incident as reported by the media about someone diagnosed with a mental illness who has committed a crime”, Joseph begins. He explores whose voices take centre-stage in the media, i.e. psychiatrists, medical practitioners and other “experts”, while those with mental health issues are rendered silent. Their past experiences of abuse, forced confinement, restraint and socio-economic locations are made invisible; thus, erasing their social, economic and political contexts.
Intentionally or unintentionally, persons with mental health diagnoses are stigmatized as being perpetrators of violent actions despite statistics that indicate they are more often the victims rather than the perpetrators of violence.
Joseph illustrates his argument by calling upon media examples. He refers to Howard Hyde’s death in 2007 at the hands of law enforcement officers in Nova Scotia while he resisted transfer to court; and, the story of Tennyson Obih, a Nigerian migrant to the United Kingdom, who killed a police officer. By way of explanation for this tragic turn of events, the media reported that Mr. Obih was not taking his medication or complying with treatment. However, Joseph argues that if we were to examine Obih’s life more closely “we might be able to highlight some of the important material problems related to income disparities and access to resources for racialized immigrants. "We might also discuss how these then become reduced to "risk factors for psychosis’’; in other words, the violence may be the manifestation of longer-term systemic issues".
This lecture is part of the Accessibility Program’s ongoing commitment to expanding the conversation around disability and to explore and create a platform for more complex and intersectional conversations around the experiences of persons with disabilities in Canada. For the full lecture, please visit the Office of Human Rights and Equity Services’ YouTube channel by clicking here.
Perspectives on Peace
The Office of Human Rights & Equity Services, in partnership with McMaster Student's Union Diversity Services, is fostering creative creative dialogues around global issues with an emphasis on peace and conflict resolution. For more information please visit Perspectives on Peace web site by clicking here.
Please note that the office will be closed from Mon Dec 22nd – Fri Jan 2nd inclusive, re-opening on Monday, January 5th, 2015.