At the end of March, Canada and Chile came together to organize a conference on contemporary human rights issues focussing on three main themes: indigenous issues, persons with disabilities and immigration policies.
Canada is recognized for having expertise in these three fields and both countries welcomed the opportunity to share best practices and lessons learned which may help inform future policies in these areas.
The Canadian Ambassador to Chile, Sarah Fountain Smith, opened the conference by providing some background to the development of human rights issues in Canada:
“Both Canada and Chile have made significant progress and have overcome great challenges in the field of human rights and both countries remain committed to further improving their policies and practices in this area. We believe that Canada and Chile have much to learn from each other’s experiences.”
The presentations throughout the day sparked a valuable exchange of dialogue and ideas on topics ranging from the rights of indigenous people in Canada and the collection and transfer of indigenous knowledge to the integration of people with disabilities and the immigration challenges that both nations face moving forward.
Approximately 120 people attended the conference. The audience included representatives from Chile’s main political parties, United Nations representatives, Chilean representatives of the International Organization for Migration, academics and students in the field of human rights, and representatives from various Embassies in Chile.
Representatives from several Chilean government departments also attended, including Education, Foreign Affairs and Justice. The President of the Council for Transparency in Chile, Raúl Ferrada and the new Rector of Universidad Católica de Chile, Ignacio Sánchez, were also present.
This successful seminar was organized by the International Studies Centre at the Catholic University of Chile with funds received from the Government of Canada’s “Understanding Canada Program.”
The university is expected to release a publication outlining the main lessons learned at the conference and future policy recommendations for Chile. Papers written by some of the experts will also be included.