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Housing is a human right: New actions to solve Canada’s ongoing crisis

Advocates to share new approaches at annual Simces and Rabkin Dialogue

News release details

Canada has recognized adequate, safe housing as a fundamental human right, yet more than 25,000 people sleep on the streets, in encampments or in shelters every night in Canada.

Activists and experts who are breaking new ground to realize the right to housing will take part in a virtual public discussion on Wednesday, November 29. The conversation will centre on how discrimination, insufficient supply, inadequate housing, affordability and homelessness intersect. 

Emerging opportunities and new approaches will be shared during the dialogue. Dr. Kaitlin Schwan, Executive Director of the Women’s National Housing and Homelessness Network, will speak to launching legal challenges based on Canada’s National Housing Strategy Act, which asserts housing is a human right. Alexandra Flynn, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s Peter A. Allard School of Law, will discuss new tools that can change the way governments meet housing needs. Lavern Kelly will share her experience helping to house youth, especially single women and young mothers, in Vancouver’s East Side.

The moderator will be Michael Redhead Champagne, a community leader from Winnipeg's North End who advocates for many causes, including working to eliminate poverty and end homelessness.

Attendees will have the chance to bring questions and comments following the formal discussion.

This free public event is the fifth annual Simces and Rabkin Family Dialogue on Human Rights, organized by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), Zena Simces and Dr. Simon Rabkin, and Equitas – International Centre for Human Rights Education. 

What: Free public dialogue on new actions to solve Canada’s housing crisis

When: Wednesday, November 29, 2023 – 12:00 noon PST, 2:00 p.m. CST

Where: Via Zoom; visitors can register at

About the dialogue partners 

Zena Simces has dedicated many years to addressing issues of hatred and prejudice as a leader with Canadian Jewish Congress in British Columbia. Her professional career as a consultant in health, social policy and education has been dedicated to furthering and defending human rights and dignity. 

Dr. Simon Rabkin devoted some of his early career to providing health care to underserviced areas in Northern Canada and in Kenya. His experiences there and subsequently caring for disadvantaged individuals fostered his commitment to human rights. In various committees in the private and public sectors, he has advanced the cause of human rights as well as issues of equity and diversity. 

Equitas advances equality, social justice and respect for human dignity through transformative human rights education programs in Canada and around the world. Equitas’ programming empowers people to challenge inequality and discrimination and take action to defend human rights. 

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights brings people together. It is a place to explore human rights and inspire action. It offers a physical and virtual space for education, discussion and community, where people gather to share stories, learn and reflect. Located in the heart of Canada where major rivers and historic cultures come together in Winnipeg, the Museum is a place of hope and optimism that encourages people to connect with something larger than themselves and acknowledge their personal stake in building a better world.

Media contacts

Leslie Vryenhoek (she/her)