November 29, 2023, Ottawa – At a time when human rights and democracy are under threat in many parts of the world, Cooperation Canada is proud to participate in the launch of Resilient Societies, a new activist-led hub that provides support and creates spaces for human rights and democracy defenders, civil society activists and practitioners worldwide to unite, innovate and advocate. The launch will take place on November 30, 2023, at the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa.

The launch event will raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities facing human rights defenders and civil society activists in countries with closed and repressive civic spaces, highlight strategic opportunities for collaboration and engagement between diaspora activists from closed and repressive spaces now based in Canada with others around the world, and present the vision, ambitions and priorities of Resilient Societies.

The launch will bring together leading figures in the field of human rights and democracy, including Maiwand Rahyab, a civic space expert from Afghanistan and the founder and CEO of Resilient Societies, and Muzna Dureid, a leading human rights activist from Syria. They are both now based in Canada.

“By fostering the resilience, agency and collaboration of democracy and human rights activists from closed and repressive spaces, including those now based in Canada, Resilient Societies ultimately seeks to contribute to creating open, resilient and vibrant civic spaces free of fear and repression”, said Maiwand Rahyab, Resilient Societies’ Founder and CEO.

Other guest speakers at the launch include Anita Vandenbeld, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General at the Global Centre for Pluralism, Julie Delahanty, President of the International Development Research Centre, Tara Denham, Director-General of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion at Global Affairs Canada, Chris Eaton, Executive Director of World University Service of Canada, and Kate Higgins, CEO at Cooperation Canada.

“At a time when human rights and civic space are threatened in so many parts of the world, Cooperation Canada is humbled to be playing a small role in the launch of this ambitious initiative”, said Kate Higgins, CEO of Cooperation Canada. “As a coalition of civil society organizations, we believe in the importance of supporting human rights, civic space and democracy, and are excited to support the important work of courageous activists in Canada and around the world”.


About Resilient Societies

Resilient Societies (RS) is an activist-led hub providing support and creating spaces for grassroots networks of human rights defenders and democracy and civil society activists and practitioners to unite, innovate, and advocate to address closing civic space. RS builds on Canada’s culture of embracing diversity and pluralism and its generosity in supporting and welcoming at-risk activists and translates it into organic, innovative, and activist-centered programs and projects that supports the work of activists-in-exile, and activists in repressed civic spaces. By building resilience, enhancing voice and agency, and raising the credibility and relevance of civil society activists and human rights defenders from closed and closing spaces, RS contributes to reversing the backsliding of democracy and shrinking civic space.

Resilient Societies is hosted by Cooperation Canada for its incubation period.


About Cooperation Canada

Cooperation Canada brings together Canada’s international development and humanitarian organizations and advocates for them by convening sector leaders, influencing policy and building capacity. Together, we work with partners both inside and outside Canada to build a world that’s fair, safe and sustainable for all.


Press contact

Gabriel Karasz-Perriau

Communications Manager

Cooperation Canada

(514) 945-0309

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