Sister of Mercy Margie Taylor gets first N.L. human rights award

A sister of mercy, Margie Taylor, has been given the first Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Award for her work with prison inmates and refugees, and for her fight against human trafficking.

Mi'kmaq leader Calvin White also honoured at ceremony in St. John's

Sister Margie Taylor shares a laugh with the chair of the Human Rights Commission, Remzi Cej, as she accepts her award. (CBC)

A sister of mercy, Margie Taylor, has been given the first Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Award for her work with prison inmates and refugees, and for her fight against human trafficking.

The award was presented Thursday in a ceremony at Government House in St. John's.

"Human rights for me is the glimpse of a dream of a world defined by respect, compassion, justice and peace, a world of oneness and harmony," said Taylor in accepting the award.

"We stand at a critical moment in the earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future....the future at once holds great peril and great promise."

Taylor thanked the people she has helped along the way for sharing their stories.

"Stories of pain, poverty, hopes and dreams, stories that I have received with reverence and respect,"  she said.

"Hopefully as all of us collaborate, co-operate, and commit ourselves to human rights, we can build a world where the earth can feed all. Where the homeless can find affordable, safe housing and where seniors are able live in security."

Taylor, who volunteered with the provincial coalition against human trafficking, also encouraged others to strive for a world "where victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking will have their voices heard when they cry 'I am not for sale'."

Hard to choose

The chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission, Remzei Cej, said the selection committee had a hard time choosing the inaugural award winner.

This year's trophy was designed by potter Isabella St. John. (CBC)

He described Taylor as "someone who embodies a commitment to human rights in every aspect of her life."

She has worked with female prison inmates in Clarenville, and helped them find housing and employment after their release.

In addition, Taylor has volunteered with organizations that helps refugees and other newcomers to Canada.

Another award will be handed out in the new year to Calvin White, who is being called a human rights "champion" for a lifetime of lobbying for the rights of Mi'kmaq in the province.

White was unable to come to St. John's for Thursday's ceremony.

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