Human Rights Advocate to Give Hopper Lecture Nov. 6

October 31, 2012 - News Release

An internationally recognized advocate for human rights and a key fighter against impunity in Guatemala will give the 2012 David Hopper Lecture Nov. 6 at the University of Guelph.

Helen Mack Chang will speak on “If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them: Defending Human Rights by Promoting the Strengthening of State Institutions” at 5:30 p.m.

The free public event will be held in the Pathobiology/Animal Health Lab Building, Room 1800. It’s open to the U of G community and general public.

“It’s an honour to host Helen Mack Chang on our campus,” said Kevin Hall, vice-president (research). “Helen has shown extraordinary determination and courage in the fight against impunity and in defence of human rights. She brings a unique and experiential perspective on global human rights to U of G and the greater Guelph community. We’re proud to have her as the 2012 Hopper Lecturer.”

Mack became an outspoken human rights advocate after her sister, anthropologist Myrna Mack Chang, was assassinated in 1990. Helen Mack began the first judicial process against high-ranking Guatemalan Army officials, leading to the conviction of three officials.

In 1993, she founded and became the executive director of the Myrna Mack Foundation, which promotes human rights in Guatemala. The organization received the King of Spain Award for human rights in 2007.

She received the Right Livelihood Award in 1992 (known as the “alternative Nobel Prize”), the Notre Dame Award for Distinguished Public Service in Latin America in 2005, and France’s National Order of the Legion of Honor in 2010.

Mack served as presidential commissioner of the Police Reform Commission and co-ordinator of the Justice Commission in Guatemala, and has been an expert witness before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Organization of American States.

The David Hopper Lecture is supported through an endowment from the International Development Research Centre and is named after the IDRC’s first president. Annual lectures at U of G and another Canadian university are intended to highlight international development issues. Mack Chang will speak at the University of British Columbia Nov. 8.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or; or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982, or

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