Historic appointment of Bahamian to Canadian Human Rights Commission

Historic appointment of Bahamian to Canadian Human Rights Commission
Bahamian Dante Bazard Jr was appointed to Canada’s Prince Edward Island’s Human Rights Commission on December 3.

Dante Bazard Jr to serve three-year term on Prince Edward Island board

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, CANADA — Dante Bazard Jr, 27, was confirmed this month to the Prince Edward Island (PEI) Human Rights Commission, which is not only a first for a Bahamian, but for black people in the province.

He is the youngest appointee named by the Legislative Assembly of the Canadian province and will serve a term of three years.

Commissioners are selected for their in-depth knowledge and expertise in human rights issues as well as matters relating to vulnerable populations, public policy, social values and concepts of fairness, justice and public service.

Bazard said his goals are “to increase representation for the Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities in all areas of governance and make a difference in this position”.

“As a Black male, I am well aware of the experiences and struggles of marginalized communities and hope to aid in the fight for justice,” he said.

The 2011 Queen’s College graduate is the eldest son of Dr Dante Bazard and former Senator Cheryl Bazard. His parents said they are “proud of Dante’s accomplishments and know that he will make a meaningful impact for BIPOC in PEI and bring honor to his country at the same time”.

Bazard is a 2016 graduate of the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts in psychology. Initially, his plan was to become a psychologist, but taking Dr Colleen MacQuarrie’s “Social Justice and Psychology” class his junior year changed his mind.

“Dr MacQuarrie became my mentor,” he said. “She introduced me to the research aspect and the work of anti-racism, fighting oppression, identifying biases and white privilege. It paved the way for my entry into human rights advocacy.”

Bazard alleges that it was “ironically” in The Bahamas that he first experienced racial profiling, but said he did not connect the harassment to race until later, as a college student in Canada. This, he said, “fueled [his] passion to go into human rights”.

In his third year at UPEI, Bazard formed the school’s first Caribbean Society to bolster Black representation on campus and create a sense of community for students who hailed from the region.

Following graduation, he obtained a Master of Science in clinical criminology from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom (UK).

He is a founding member of BIPOC USHR (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour United for Strength, Home, Relationships) and ASDA (Atlantic Student Development Alliance); and along with his passion for human rights and social justice, he is an accomplished researcher who is working on various academic publications with UPEI.

In his new role, Bazard will help to enforce Prince Edward Island’s Human Rights Act. The commission settles disputes through mediation.