Alumna Sydona Chandon Honoured for Human Rights Advocacy Work
St. Thomas University alumna Sydona Chandon has received the 2023 New Brunswick Youth Human Rights Award earning praise for removing barriers and creating diverse spaces in society.
The award, sponsored by the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, was presented by Lieutenant Governor the Hon. Brenda Murphy at a ceremony at Old Government House. Provincial organization Pride in Education earned the Human Rights Award.
Chandon, BA’22 received the award for her exceptional contribution to advancing human rights, equality, diversity, and inclusion in the province. Her advocacy has increased the visibility of university students, particularly those of the BIPOC community, and the creation of safe and inclusive spaces in post-secondary education and beyond.
The Commission noted her legacy of empowering students from various backgrounds, including international and racialized students. While attending STU, Chandon was Vice-President (Education) of the Student’s Union and a board member on the New Brunswick Student Alliance, where she is now Executive Director.
“Each in their own way, Pride in Education and Sydona Chandon have worked tirelessly to bring New Brunswickers together while defending the interests of marginalized people,” said Murphy. “Their efforts have removed barriers and created more accessible, equitable, and diverse spaces where everyone can be comfortable being themselves.”
“Service to Others” is the Most Rewarding Work
Chandon said that she was honoured to receive the award for her work to amplify the voice of students. From a young age, her mother encouraged her to be a voice for others and to defend the vulnerable.
“Being of service to others is life-giving and ultimately the most rewarding work you can do in your lifetime,” said Chandon at the ceremony.
“Attending STU afforded me the ability to live out my calling through creating safe spaces for students that needed it the most. I discovered recognizing the many discrepancies in a colonial system and attempting to address them is not always easy, and must be carefully executed through a lens of respectfully understanding the mistakes of the past whilst finding empathetic solutions to solve them.”
While at STU, she was also a member of the NB Black Artists Alliance, Asian Student Association, and Black Students Association.
“Sydona sacrificed much of her personal time at STU to inspire and uplift others, often working long hours to attend advocacy meetings and do community work through her many associations,” said NB Human Rights Commission Chair Phylomène Zangio.
The award was established by the Commission in 1988 to celebrate individuals and organizations who have worked tirelessly to advance human rights, equality, diversity, and inclusion, and make New Brunswick a better place to live.