Getting Serious about the Human Rights of Older Persons – Our Call for a UN Convention

April 10, 2024
2:00 – 4:00 PM

Canada has a long-standing history of leading Human Rights movements starting with the vote at the UN to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 – a promise of freedom, equality and justice for all.

Today older adults represent the fastest growing demographic in our country yet we know that they do not enjoy the same protections as others and that the core of this societal intolerance is Ageism. The impacts of age discrimination carry significantly negative outcomes for the quality of life of older adults who are becoming invisible. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and afforded opportunities to participate equally in society.

We are calling on Canada, a member of civil society, to advocate for and support the declaration of a UN convention on the Rights of Older Persons, to foster a world free from ageism. Strengthening our collective voice means being informed about the facts, knowing how far we have come and what must happen at the UN in May 2024.

Join ILC Canada, CNPEA and EAPO to learn more about what is at stake, without this legally binding instrument being declared. The inadequacies and gaps identified in international Human Rights frameworks are well documented and public support for change is growing globally.

On April 10th, learn how you can participate and Get Serious About Human Rights!

Webinar provided with an ASL Interpreter


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The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson

The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson arrived in Canada from Hong Kong with her family in 1942 and made the astonishing journey from penniless child refugee to accomplished broadcaster, journalist, and distinguished public servant in a multi-faceted lifetime.

 As Canada’s 26th Governor General from 1999-2005, Adrienne Clarkson is universally acknowledged to have transformed the office and leaving an indelible mark on Canada’s history. When she left Rideau Hall, she co-founded the Institute for Canadian Citizenship which helps new citizens to feel involved and included in Canadian life. The ICC offers a one-of-a-kind program, Canoo, an app that gives newcomers free VIP access to over 1,400 of Canada’s best cultural and outdoor experiences.

 Bestselling author of the 2014 CBC Massey Lectures Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship, Adrienne Clarkson also wrote Room for All of Us: Surprising Stories of Loss and Transformation; her autobiography Heart Matters: A Memoir; and Extraordinary Canadians: Norman Bethune, a biography of Dr. Norman Bethune.

 A Privy Councillor and a Companion of the Order of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson is the National Institute on Ageing’s Honorary Chair for its Advisory Board.

©David Howells 2021
Honourable Minister Seamus O’Regan

Minister of Labour and Minister for Seniors

Seamus O’Regan Jr. was first elected Member of Parliament for St. John’s South-Mount Pearl in 2015, subsequently re-elected in 2019 and 2021. He is currently Canada’s Minister of Labour and Minister for Seniors.

O’Regan has also previously served as Canada’s Natural Resources Minister, Minister of Indigenous Services, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence.

He was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and raised in Goose Bay, Labrador. He studied politics at St. Francis Xavier University and University College Dublin, and received his Master of Philosophy degree from the University of Cambridge, specializing in Indigenous participation in natural resource development.

In the Government of Newfoundland & Labrador, he served as Executive Assistant to the Minister of Justice, and later, Senior Policy Advisor to the Premier.

Amal Abou Rafeh
Amal Abou Rafeh

Chief Programme on Ageing Section (PAS), Social Inclusion and Participation Branch, Division for Inclusive Social Development (DISD), Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), United Nations Headquarters

Amal Abou Rafeh is Chief of the Programme on Ageing Section at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in New York. She serves on the Secretariat of the General Assembly’s Working Group for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons. Amal is a member of the Steering Committee of the Titchfield City Group on Ageing-related Statistics and Age-disaggregated Data. She is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Healthy Ageing and Longevity 2020-2021.
Amal joined the United Nations in 2001, working in the areas of social policy, sustainable development and demography, and served on the Secretariats of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002) and the High-level Meeting on Youth (2011). She held positions in Beirut and New York. Before joining the United Nations, Amal lectured on analysis of social and demographic data. Amal was born in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and holds a Master of Science in Population Studies from the American University of Beirut.

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Margaret Gillis

President International Longevity Centre (ILC) Canada Co-President, ILC Global Alliance, “Ambassador” Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario

Margaret Gillis is the founding President of the International Longevity Centre Canada, a human rights based organization, and Co-President of the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance, which is an alliance of 16 Centres around the world dedicated to the needs of older people. She is also an “Community Ambassador” for Elder Abuse Awareness Ontario an organization providing education, training and information on elder abuse. 

An award winning executive and innovative leader, Margaret played a key role in establishing the Age-friendly Community program in Canada and internationally. Other career highlights include the establishment of the “Canadian Coalition Against Ageism” a nation-wide social change movement to combat ageism. 

Margaret has strong credentials in regard to human rights, working with and speaking at the UN General Assembly on behalf of older people. Margaret has been actively working for a United Nations Convention on the Rights of Older Persons in Canada and internationally. With a background in health promotion, protection and programming, Margret is committed to improving the rights of older people.


Bridget Sleap

Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch

Bridget Sleap is a senior researcher on the rights of older people at Human Rights Watch.

Previously, she was a senior rights policy adviser at HelpAge International where she led the organization’s research and advocacy on the rights of older people at the UN and national levels, including on ageism and age discrimination, autonomy and independence, and the rights of older people in responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. She also previously worked as a research manager at the University of Bath and on HIV and AIDS related projects at International Family Health and the Panos Institute.

Bridget holds an honors degree in modern world history from the University of Bristol and a master’s in Securing and Understanding Human Rights from the University of London. Bridget has lived and worked in Mozambique, Egypt, and Jordan.

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Margaret Young

Founder Age Knowble, Chair of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People

A social entrepreneur and advocate, Margaret Young champions older people because she believes in self-determination and dignity in old age for all. Margaret’s career evolved from being an award-winning corporate professional to an agent of change for older people’s well-being and human rights. A key area of her current exploration is the connection between older people and social activism – whereby the older person is an actor of participation, contribution, and change in our quest for social justice and good.

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