Honouring human rights leaders in Venezuela

Father Raul Herrera, Director of the UCV’s Padre Luis María Olaso Center for Peace and Human Rights, Trina Bajo recipient of the 8th edition of the Human Rights Award, Ambassador Ben Rowswell and his wife Kate Rowswell.

 Ambassador Ben Rowswell, Father Raul Herrera and embassy team visiting Trina Bajo at Fe y Alegria Maria Inamaculada School, Petare, Caracas, Venezuela.

Kids playing on a break at Fe y Alegria Maria Inmaculada School, Petare, Caracas, Venezuela.

Kids having breakfast at Fe y Alegria Maria Inmaculada School, Petare, Caracas, Venezuela.

Human rights defenders can be women, men, boys or girls of any background. What they all have in common are their efforts to promote and protect human rights even when doing so endangers their own lives. Canada has a strong tradition of supporting brave people who hold governments and companies to account.

We can all be defenders

In 2009, the Embassy of Canada was proud to partner with the Center for Peace and Human Rights of the Central University of Venezuela to create the Human Rights Award  to recognize the efforts and leaderships of individuals and non-governmental organizations working to promote and defend human rights in Venezuela.

Eight years later, the Award has evolved as a signature event to create space for some of Venezuela’s bravest voices and leaders. The theme of this year’s Award, “We can all be Defenders,” was chosen to emphasize that in each and every citizen lies a potential to stand up for and promote human rights.

Trina Bajo – Educator and Human Rights Defender

The Embassy was thrilled to present this year’s award to Trina Bajo, an educator and community leader from the community of Union in Petare, Caracas.

Trina Bajo is the embodiment of citizen commitment in the defense and promotion of human rights. She defines herself as a popular educator, and is nowadays the coordinator of social community pastoral activities at Fe y Alegria’s María Inmaculada School in the community of Petare, Caracas.  She has more than thirty-eight years defending the right of education for boys, girls and adolescents and as a promoter of peaceful coexistence in some of the most violent and at-risk communities in Venezuela.

“It is not myself alone who must defend these rights; I must help other people empower themselves, and I must also empower myself. If I defend my rights, I can help others defend theirs”… “To truly transform a context, unless I empower my fellow citizens, there shall be no transformation”.

Trina Bajo, recipient of the 8th edition of the Human Rights Award.

In March Trina traveled to Canada to meet fellow human rights defenders, civil society leaders and government representatives. Her visit will help build an international network of solidarity and forge connections between Venezuela and Canada.

Canada promoting respect

Human rights are at the heart of Canada’s international engagement. Canada works with other governments, civil society, international organizations and the private sector to strengthen the international rules that protect universal human rights. International engagement also means supporting human rights defenders: the women, men and youth in communities around the world who keep respect for human rights alive.

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