Some Human Rights students at St. Thomas University want local high school students to learn more about diversity issues in New Brunswick. That’s why they organized the Diversity in New Brunswick Human Rights Conference, which will be held at STU on April 27.
 
“The conference’s objective is to inform high school students on current diversity issues in the province and how these reflect global issues too,” said fourth-year student Stefen Savoy, the event’s administrative lead.
 
Savoy wants students to learn about the obstacles many New Brunswickers face so they can be better equipped to practice empathy and inclusion in their communities.
 
The conference will cover topics such as race and ethnicity; gender and sexuality; and ability and access.

Out of the nine presentations, six will be delivered by St. Thomas University professors and three by advocates from across the province.
 
Human Rights students Al Cusack and Elizabeth Tuck are promotion co-leads for the event. During the last few weeks, they’ve made discussion-based presentations at Fredericton High School to get students excited about the conference.
 
“We ask them a lot of questions, show them videos… It has gone really well. The students are really engaged,” Cusack said.
 
Students from other high schools such as Oromocto High and Leo Hayes will also attend the event. 
 
Tuck said the issues discussed at the conference are important for everyone but especially for high school students.

"It's important for all students who may not always be aware of this stuff to see how these topics impact the world and, specifically, New Brunswick," she said.

Cusack hopes the conference will shape students into socially conscious citizens beyond the walls of their high schools.
 
Cusack added that many of the students attending the conference come from marginalized groups, which makes it difficult for them to imagine going to university or having a career.
 
“What STU can do as an institution for these high schoolers at this conference is show them that yes, they have a future, that there is life beyond high school, and that it can be great and filled with people who are empathetic.”
 
Note: STU students Hayley McCarty and Danika Phinney are also part of the conference organization team but were unavailable for an interview at this time.