News and Statements

January 16, 2024


Edmonton, Alberta – January 16, 2023 - The Coalition for Justice and Human Rights (the "Coalition") is disappointed in the decision to grant the City of Edmonton’s application to strike the Coalition’s legal action on the basis that the Coalition lacks public interest standing to bring a lawsuit on behalf of people living in encampments. The Coalition’s legal action aimed to address the urgent matter of human rights violations related to encampment displacements in Edmonton.

The mobilization of allies, neighbors, organizations, and community members over the past few months stands as a testament to the genuine concern among Edmontonians regarding the devastating effects of encampment displacements. This collective effort underscores the community's commitment to addressing the challenges and advocating for a better City for all residents. 

The question of the encampment displacement practices violating peoples’ charter rights still stands and we will continue to explore every available avenue to have the city answer for the ongoing harm done by these practices”
- Sam Mason, President, Coalition for Justice and Human Rights

"We find the decision to be highly disheartening. While we respect the legal process and the institution, we are deeply disappointed with the outcome. It seems that the courts may not fully grasp the extent of our efforts in assisting the homeless and the most vulnerable members of our community. Our engagements within the community are focused on aiding individuals at risk of homelessness. To suggest otherwise is inaccurate."
- Mark Cherrington, Vice President, Coalition for Justice and Human Rights.

What this past few weeks should tell us is that this is a major issue in our city. Houselessness is only to get worse. There is loud and clear demand and need for accountability from our public institutions including where funding goes to, accountability of funding, and the approach to which encampments are violently displaced. This fight is only just beginning and we are here with the community to continue and to amplify calls for accountability to ensure ALL Edmontonians are heard, supported and part of our community.
- Renee Vaugeois, Treasurer, Coalition for Justice and Human Rights. 

“We are disappointed by Justice Martin’s decision. People living in encampments face many barriers to bringing legal actions on their own, and many non-profit organizations in Edmonton are reluctant to take action against the City on their behalf because the City is an important funder or partner. We maintain that the Coalition is well-placed to bring this legal action and, while we respect his decision, disagree with Justice Martin’s analysis. The Coalition has the ability to appeal within 30 days, though we cannot say at this time whether it will.”
- Chris Wiebe, Legal Counsel, Engel Law

The pro bono legal team expresses immense gratitude for the solidarity and support received. Those interested in contributing can donate to the litigation fund, which assists in covering the expenses associated with legal actions. The Coalition remains committed to advocating for the protection of the Charter rights of unhoused Edmontonians. 


Media Contact

Shayla Breen, 587-998-0598

Coalition for Justice and Human Rights

Formally founded in 2017, Coalition for Justice and Human Rights began as a group of

advocates and workers in non-profit organizations working together to address a growing need

for community based advocacy support in Edmonton. The organization exists to support the

most marginalized in Edmonton and to help eliminate barriers to access to justice and advocacy.

Engel Law Office 

Engel Law Office is a criminal defense and civil litigation firm that focuses on the protection and

advancement of rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Nanda & Company

Nanda & Company is a boutique litigation firm with an emphasis on public interest matters and

access to justice.

January 10, 2024

Ongoing Human Right Violations From Encampment Sweeps in Edmonton, Alberta

Hon. Sean Fraser, 

Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities of Canada

Dear Minister,

We are writing to you to bring your attention to ongoing violations of human rights by the City of Edmonton and Edmonton Police Service.

Over the past few weeks, the Edmonton Police Service has engaged in an organised campaign to take away cold weather shelters from our most vulnerable friends and neighbours. They have destroyed tents, heating supplies, and clothing from 8 separate encampments in the Edmonton area, putting over 100 people at risk of severe frostbite, amputation, and death due to cold weather exposure. They have arrested peaceful camp residents, arrested a journalist, and violently detained a supporter.

The situation has come to a critical juncture. Edmonton is currently at -22C as of January 10. The temperature will go down to close to -40C by January 12. These are lethal temperatures - exposed skin can freeze in 10-30 minutes at these temperatures. People are being forced to face these temperatures without housing, without shelter, and without adequate supplies.

These activities violate the Charter rights of unhoused people, as well as the right to adequate housing, as that is recognized both internationally in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social Rights and in section 4 of the federal National Housing Strategy Act. The Federal Housing Advocate has expressed deep concern about the events in Edmonton, noting that “forcible removal of encampments is a violation of human rights and harmful due to the lack of available shelter space.”

As the Minister of Housing, we urge you to intervene immediately and take all necessary steps to ensure the safety and well-being of the affected residents. Please mobilise all available resources to provide emergency shelter and cold weather supplies to these residents. Together we can minimise unnecessary hardship, death, and dismemberment of Edmontonians facing the elements without shelter.

Furthermore, we request an investigation into the policies and procedures that led to these violent evictions during a severe cold weather event. The City of Edmonton has activated its Extreme Weather Response Activation from January 10th through 18th, while at the same time it has worked with the Edmonton Police to take away the shelters of vulnerable Edmontonians. These have occurred in spite of a court injunction limiting their ability to engage in these sweeps.

Given the weather forecast, a prompt response is of the utmost urgency. We look forward to hearing about the steps your office will be taking to ensure an emergency response is activated, and that the human rights of these residents are safeguarded.


Sam Mason

President of the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights. 


Honourable Scott Aitchison, Shadow Minister for Housing and Diversity and Inclusion

Honourable Leah Gazan, Deputy Critic for Housing

Marie-Josée Houle, Federal Housing Advocate

Honourable Blake Desjarlais, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Griesbach

Honourable Heather McPherson, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona

Bradley Lafortune, Executive Director Public Interest Alberta

Balakrishnan Rajagopal, UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing

March 10, 2021

Open Public Statement regarding CityNews Article

On Monday, February 1st, 2021, CityNews published an article written by Reham Al-Azem with the title “Muslim sisters share experiences of racism in Canada.” While the coverage of these hateful incidents is needed, the issue arose when the article was posted on the CityNews 1130 Facebook page. The two young Muslim women who were brave enough to speak up about how they as victims of hate were met with racist, hateful, and derogatory comments that make them feel unsafe and unwelcome. The purpose of this writing is to convey our concern with the lack of moderation on your social media posts, precisely that of Facebook, primarily due to the spread of hate, racism, and trauma through your network, directed at racialized groups and the Muslim community. While this news coverage brought to public attention the hatred and violence that these sisters have experienced due to their religion and ethnic background, which we greatly appreciate, the lack of moderation on your Facebook posts has left the members of these communities  scarred and with no desire to engage publicly with these conversations any further. Allowing news facebook profiles to host hateful comments revictimizes community members who are already carrying the consequences of racism and discrimination and discourage them from sharing experiences from where we all must learn. This practise  further prevents people from trusting the media with their stories and may result in increasing distrust of the reporting process.

We, as members of the Social Stride, a network of online advocates working to confront hate online and supported by organizations such as the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights and John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, would like to call on CityNews to engage in a dialogue with members from this community to learn about how the news coverage has impacted the community and why this story is essential and relevant locally. We would like to provide some constructive input about being more reflective and intentional about your news angle and lens and help you consider how you can contribute to journalism that is grounded in an anti-racism lens, as well as how to address comments of hate and racism on your social media posts. Please contact us at


Coalition for Justice and Human Rights

For Immediate Release

Joint Statement on EXPO Closure

1 August 2020

Due to a lack of adequate housing in Amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta), the problems related to the closure of the EXPO Centre temporary shelter facilities and lack of contingency plans being in place to support this transition is resulting in those living in poverty having their right to life, liberty and personal security denied.

We would like to remind you that Edmonton has committed to:

We believe that all in this city should have safe, accessible and affordable housing. Without such, one remains stuck in a cycle of poverty, violence and illness. 

While we recognize the temporary EXPO Centre was established to respond to COVID19 needs, it’s closure on Friday July 31st is going to have severe impacts on the city.  Our concern is that there will be increased loss of life, violence, abuse, and social tension.   The EXPO Centre provided a much needed opportunity to build a space with a comprehensive suite of services accessible to people. 

This will no doubt put added stress on the Edmonton Police Service to respond to complex cases and will require collaboration and resources to support community based approaches. We need to be vigilant in ensuring that the burden of COVID19, poverty, and trauma in the community do not lead to the increasing criminalization of the most vulnerable. This does not mean that additional funding be directed to policing but to localized community based efforts that provide appropriate and culturally relevant support. It also means that mandatory requirements, such as masks, do not burden the homeless community and that we have an obligation to provide masks, not to issue fines. There needs to be understanding that a fine based culture only serves to deepen the criminalization of poverty and increases social tension.

Thus, we as a collective are calling for immediate action for:

In addition to our immediate calls to action, we also call for mobilization and action on the following:

One of the greatest negative outcomes of shifting locations and approaches in service provision is that it creates confusion, anxiety, stress and uncertainty for people who lack housing and other supports. The lack of access to information and education on these changes and shifts makes it even more difficult to navigate for people who are struggling to survive. 

“Many of my clients did not know Expo would be closing soon or that the hours were changing for the last two weeks.  We need to make sure we are recognizing people's dignity by letting people know better what decisions we are making that will affect them.”

The situation in Edmonton is going to unravel very quickly in terms of safety and public health. We question the decision to move forward with the closing of the EXPO shelter at the expense of potential violence, public health and sanitation, and individual safety and security. The plans are moving in place to relaunch how bars can open and wearing masks in public places, but what about the most vulnerable people in our community?  

We want to stress that the most substantial issue in all of this is the utter lack of affordable and appropriate housing in the city. Until we do a better job dealing with that and addressing the right to adequate housing, these issues affecting our community will never go away and will continue to be an ongoing and increasing drain and burden on public budgets and social well-being. 


Recommendations to Edmonton City Council on Policing

Release Date: June 15, 2020

Dear Edmonton City Council,

The slogan “overpoliced and underprotected” rings true far too often in Edmonton; especially for our most marginalized communities. The necessary way forward must involve greater accountability, demilitarization, and listening to communities. It also must involve a shift away from defensive posturing to explain and justify, to a true commitment to the protection and support of all in our communities through a lens of dignity, security, and respect.  This must include a commitment to uphold Treaty 6 and to acknowledge the long term genocidal history of law enforcement with the First Peoples of this land and the sustained violence that Indigenous peoples face as a result. 

The Coalition for Justice and Human Rights is concerned with the lack of action and attention from EPS on critical investigations in the city affecting traditionally oppressed community members. We are particularly concerned with the Canada Day death at the hands of EPS officers of an Indigenous man as well as unsolved homicides in Indigenous communities as well as the Black Muslim community.  Violence against oppressed communities has been covered up and under wraps for too long. We are also concerned about the continuing street checks that put undocumented and temporary foreign workers at risk when they are reported to CBSA as well as the slashing methods used to push community out of temporary encampments.  

We applaud the openness and courage of Edmonton’s City Council to hear from the community and critically look at the way that Edmonton Police Service is funded, but also in terms of taking a leadership role as a municipality which can influence provincial and federal shifts for radical, but much needed and more efficient and effective, ways to “police” our communities.

We ask that City Council:

EPS can be a force for good within our community. It can be better and it must be better. This starts with difficult conversations and critical reflection and proceeds to meaningful policy change. The Coalition encourages City Council to engage in this work and we as a group of community members and agencies are prepared to support this important work moving forward. The impunity of police violence can no longer be accepted and we trust that City Council will commit to upholding human rights and work towards finding equitable access to justice.

Critical Matter - Indigenous Seniors in Care in Slave Lake

For immediate release

June 10, 2020

The rights of seniors have been top of mind for people as the COVID19 pandemic set in and we watched with fear and sadness as seniors were heavily impacted in care facilities across the country. The stories that we don’t hear however are the stories that hit the hardest.

This Monday,  June 7, 2020, Joseph Auger passed away in Slave Lake Alberta in Points West Care facilities and we can no longer remain silent when we see human rights violations against seniors.

Prior to COVID19, community advocates had been working together since July 25 2019 to document and raise awareness of the particular isolation and neglect of seniors in Slave Lake Alberta. What resulted from this work was the unearthing of over 40 stories of seniors in the community who were struggling with dignity and well-being in care.  The most concerning of these stories were those that came up about Indigenous seniors in care facilities. 

Staff at the local Friendship Centre were finding it more and more difficult to go and observe the conditions that they found their Indigenous seniors living in. Not only did they find that these seniors were unable to access food, but also living in unsanitary and neglectful conditions. Those that lost their English, are left unable to communicate or self advocate. They are isolated and alone, while suffering mental and emotional stress.   Many of the Indigenous seniors at care facilities in Slave Lake are residential school survivors and are being re-traumatized in this setting, needing culturally appropriate counselling and support, including someone that speaks their language.  

In February, we asked for an independent external Cree speaker  to go into Points West home to speak with seniors in the Care centre and their families if present.  We did this in order to confirm the stories that we were hearing in community. What this individual witnessed was traumatic and a report has been written that we were about to release. In this report, the consultant found that “while Points West prides itself on high quality standards and the 10 Principles of the Eden Alternative; they are not meeting their own standards and not living by their own principles which is apparent by the reviews of former employees in Points West (included in the report) and not only in Slave Lake but in other Points West facilities as well”. This report includes a listing of media articles highlighting the ongoing battles of former staff.

As a collective of concerned agencies and community members, we are calling for: