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FREDERICTION — Harini Sivalingam, Lawyer and Director of the Equality Program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) made the following statement today at the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick:



And thank you for joining us today.

We would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which we gather is the traditional unceded territory of the Maliseet and Mi’kmaq Peoples, covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship”.

My name is Harini Sivalingam my pronouns are she/her/hers and I am the Equality Director for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

With me today are Nicki Lyons-MacFarlane, pronouns are they/them, from Imprint Youth Association and Mariah Darling (all pronouns), Education Coordinator for Chroma NB.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association was founded in 1964.  That was 59 years ago.

It was before New Brunswick had a Human Rights Act and before many of the rights and freedoms we take for granted today were enshrined in the constitution and codified in human rights law

Back then, a pioneering group of advocates came together with a singular purpose: defending the rights and freedoms of all people in Canada.

Since 1964, the CCLA, has relied upon the work and support of members across the country, including here in New Brunswick

These past few weeks there has been a lot of attention on New Brunswick.

Attention from the New York Times and international media but also from human rights organizations here in Canada and from Canadians in every corner of the country.

We have been watching, in horror, as the   Premier engaged in a biased and politically-motivated “review” of Policy 713. Policy 713 was originally designed by experts to protect and promote the well-being of Trans and non-binary children in schools.

The catalyst for this “review” was a vocal minority of anti-2SLGBTQIA+ groups.

Rather than defend the rights of New Brunswick children, the Premier announced he would meddle with the very policies put in place to protect the rights of Trans and non-binary children.

He capitulated to extremists.

And he forgot New Brunswick is not Florida: in New Brunswick we can say “gay” and we won’t tolerate attacks on children.

In Canada, people are compassionate and decent; Canadians care about rights and freedoms, about evidence-based policy, and about the well-being of children.

The government can pretend all it wants that these changes do not hurt children – but they do and they will.

The original Policy 713 – before the changes – did not exclude loving and supportive parents from receiving information about their children. But not all homes are loving and safe. For some Trans and non-binary children, school is the only safe space where they can be themselves. The original Policy 713 recognized this reality and the importance of protecting the privacy, rights, and safety of vulnerable Trans and non-binary children, while also including parents in important, official decision-making.

The research demonstrates:  When Trans children do not have people in their life that support them, they are at higher risk of suicidal ideation – and of suicide.

These are the facts.

Make no mistake, these recent changes to the Policy will make things worse and put kids in danger.

The changes to Policy 713 violate the rights and dignity of Trans and non-binary children. They are unlawful and unconstitutional and should not stand.

And so, all eyes are on New Brunswick.

Canadians from across the country are watching.

And they are supporting you – Trans and queer young people.

And you have support here at home in New Brunswick.

We have heard from countless New Brunswickers who have asked us to act.

The CCLA is heeding their call and we will not stand idly by and watch the New Brunswick government, or any other government in Canada for that matter, strip the rights of Trans children and youth in this country.

And we know that New Brunswickers support freedom and rights.

The CCLA is currently fighting this same New Brunswick Government in court on another matter of basic rights and freedoms because this government refuses to fund abortion services as they do other healthcare services.

I want to take a moment to speak to all students who may be listening today. Those who are Trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming, or questioning, and to all those who have compassion for their classmates.

The CCLA stands with you, New Brunswickers stand with you, your communities stand with you – you are not alone.

Rights organizations and groups from all over the country are thinking about you yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

We will not hesitate from using every legal avenue to fight for your rights and freedoms.

Pride month may be ending but our attention will not waver.

I am here on behalf of the CCLA in Fredericton today to deliver a final message to the Government of New Brunswick.

You refused to support reproductive freedom – and we took you to court.

You tried to have that lawsuit thrown out of court – but you failed.

You have a chance now, right now, to do the right thing for Trans children, to change an unlawful and unconstitutional policy, and immediately suspend the revisions to Policy 713 before they come into place on July 1st.

You have a chance today to stop the harm and suffering that Trans and non-binary children in this province will face if these policy changes come into effect.

There is no wrong time to do the right thing.

And rest assured that we will do everything in our power to protect Trans kids and young people in New Brunswick and across Canada.


About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association
The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.

Media Contact:
Alex Nanoff – 613.709.6318

About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.

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