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UN expert on Minority Issues goes on first visit to Canada

GENEVA (09 October 2009) -

The United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, will visit Canada from 13 to 23 October 2009, at the invitation of the Government. It is the first mission to the country by a UN human rights expert monitoring minority issues.

"The visit offers me a unique opportunity to consult on legislation, policy and practice relating to minority communities and a wide variety of issues relevant to diversity, equality and minority rights in Canada," said Ms McDougall announcing her coming mission to a country where minorities represent a rapidly growing sector of the population.

Canada’s 2006 census data revealed a population of "visible minorities" made up of more than 5 million individuals, including African and Asia Canadians. They represented 16.2% of the total population in 2006, up from 13.4% in 2001.

"This mission will enable me to talk directly to people in minority communities about their issues and the challenges facing them," said Ms McDougall. "It will also allow me to learn about the positive experiences of Canada as a vibrant and richly multicultural society".

The Independent Expert’s visit will include travel to Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. She will meet with senior federal and provincial government officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations, with community members, academics, and others working in the field of minority issues, social inclusion, and to promote equality and non-discrimination.

Following her visit, the Independent Expert will present a report containing her findings and recommendations to the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2010.

A press conference will be held on 23 October 2009 at the Charles Lynch Press Conference Room, 130 S Centre Block, House of Commons, Ottawa.

Ms. Gay McDougall (United States) was appointed as the first holder of the post of UN Independent Expert on minority issues in July 2005. The mandate of the Independent Expert was established to promote implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, and to identify challenges as well as successful practices in regard to minority issues.