What is the role of the Human Rights and Equity Advisor?


The role of the Human Rights and Equity Advisor is to work with Xaverians to create and promote an environment where individuals can live, work and study in a community free from discrimination and harassment. Services are available to all members of the campus community, including faculty, staff, students and visitors.

The Human Rights and Equity Advisor can:

  • Provide education, training and support on best practices concerning equity, diversity and inclusion;
  • Provide information, support and guidance related to human rights issues;
  • provide information with respect to the Policy and what behaviour might constitute discrimination or harassment;
  • assist individuals in determining whether conduct complained of is covered by the Policy;
  • review with the individual the procedural options available for resolution of a  matter which falls under the Policy;
  • assist with informal resolution of a concern or complaint;
  • when appropriate, refer individuals to other policies, procedures and/or services internal or external to the University.


Remember: The Human Rights and Equity Advisor does not advocate for any individual or group. The Advisor works to create fair processes where the dignity and human rights of all members of the Xaverian community are respected and upheld.


What is harassment?

Harassment is offensive or objectionable conduct or comments toward another person or persons, including sexual harassment, the instance or persistence of which is known or ought reasonably to be known from the perspective of a reasonable person in the position of the complainant to be intimidating, offensive or unwelcome and creates an intimidating, humiliating, hostile or offensive work, study or living environment.

Harassment and discrimination can exist in any relationship (peer to peer, faculty to student, student to faculty, staff to supervisor, supervisor to staff, etc.).

Even if someone didn’t mean to harass or discriminate against someone, a finding can still be made against them. Regardless of intent, it is the effect, context and characteristics of the behavior that determine whether the behavior constitutes discrimination or harassment.

The table below provides some examples. It is by no means exhaustive.


What usually constitutes harassment

What might constitute harassment

What does not usually constitute harassment

Serious or repeated degrading or offensive remarks, such as mocking a person’s physical characteristics or appearance, put-downs or insults


A single incident based in one of the prohibited grounds

Allocating work


Following up on absences


Requiring academic and performance standards

Unwelcome social invitations with sexual overtones or flirting with someone where a power differential exists

Making sexually suggestive remarks


Physical contact such as touching or pinching

A single, isolated incident such as an inappropriate remark or abrupt manner

Suggestions that a supervisor or instructor can improve an employee or student evaluation in exchange for sexual favors

Statements damaging to a person’s reputation

Exclusion of an employee for a job based on specific requirements necessary to accomplish safe and effective performance

Threats, intimidation or retaliation against an employee who has launched a complaint or expressed concerns about workplace behaviour

Criticizing someone harshly in a disrespectful and insulting manner

frank discussion of potentially controversial matters conducted in a mutually respectful and non-coercive manner


* Table adapted from the Treasury Board Policy on the Prevention and Resolution of Harassment in the workplace

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment falls under the definition of harassment as per the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. Examples may include:

  • sexually suggestive comments, gestures, threats or verbal abuse;
  • persistent and unwelcome sexual solicitations, flirtations or advances;
  • non-consensual touching or physical contact of a sexual nature;
  • coerced consent to sexual contact, including misuse of position or authority to      secure sexual favours;
  • sexual assault;
  • inappropriate display or transmission of sexually suggestive or explicit pictures, posters, objects or graffiti;
  • demands for sexual favours;
  • degrading, demeaning or insulting sexual comment or content, including unwelcome remarks, taunting, jokes or innuendos about a person’s body, sexuality, sexual orientation or sexual conduct;
  • persistent, unwanted attention or requests for sexual contact after a consensual relationship has ended; or
  • a course of sexualized comment or conduct that interferes with the dignity or privacy of a member of the University community, a visitor, or contractor.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is distinctive treatment, whether intentional or not, on the basis of:

·       age

·       race

·       colour

·       religion

·       creed

·       sex (including pregnancy, sexual harassment, etc)

·        sexual orientation

·       gender identity

·       gender expression

·       physical disability or mental disability

·       irrational fear of contracting an illness or disease

·       ethnic, national or aboriginal origin

·       family status

·       marital status

·       source of income

·       political belief

·       affiliation or activity

that from the perspective of a reasonable person in the position of the complainant has the effect of imposing a burden, obligation or disadvantage on an individual or a class of individuals not imposed upon others, or which withholds or limits access to opportunities, benefits and advantages available to other individuals or classes of individuals. 

Systemic Discrimination is Discrimination that arises as the effect of workplace policies or practices, as opposed to the discriminatory actions of an individual.

Is my complaint a human rights complaint?

Human Rights recognize the dignity and worth of everyone, and upholds the freedom and equality of each person. They apply to all individuals.

Complaints fall under the human rights category when you believe that you are being treated differently based because you share characteristics of one or more prohibited grounds under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act.

Prohibited ground It is against the law to discriminate in employment against the following protected identities under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. They include:

  • age
  • race
  • colour
  • religion
  • creed
  • sex (including pregnancy, sexual harassment, etc)
  •  sexual orientation
  • gender identity
  • gender expression
  • physical disability or mental disability
  • irrational fear of contracting an illness or disease
  • ethnic, national or aboriginal origin
  • family status
  • marital status
  • source of income
  • political belief
  • affiliation or activity


Conduct may also be considered discriminatory if you are being treated differently because you associate with members of one of the protected groups.


What do I do if someone tells me that they are being harassed?

Having someone feel safe enough to confide in you is a privilege and a responsibility. You may also be worried that you don’t know exactly what to say or what to do.  Some tips to remember include:

· Ensure the person feels safe. If they have immediate safety concerns ask if they need to call 911 or if they wish to access other resources on campus or in the community.

· Respect the person’s need to tell their story in their own time and in their own way. Listen without judgement. They may not wish to provide detailed information right away.

· Provide information on where they can receive support. A list of internal and external supports can be found here

· Ask if they would like to contact the Human Rights and Equity Advisor for further, or information about making a complaint.  Contacting the Human Rights and Equity Advisor may give the person access to information and support even if they do not wish to file a complaint.

Managers and supervisors have a duty to respond to concerns brought forward by their employees. Contact the Human Rights Advisor or Human Resources if you have questions or concerns on how to move forward. 

Remember: In some circumstances, StFX’s policy may address incidents that occur off-campus and online. 

Remember:  If you are a university employee, it is mandatory to report instances of discrimination/harassment when the incident involves an employee (faculty, staff, and administration) and a student. You must also report if there are reasonable grounds to believe that someone’s health and safety is at serious risk. If you have questions about whether or not you should report, please contact the Human Rights and Equity Advisor.



I am being harassed. What do I do?

StFX does not tolerate harassment or discrimination. Having individuals come forward with their concerns provides the University with the opportunity to address these important matters and move forward in our efforts to ensure that our campus is free from harassment and discrimination.

Meet with the Human Rights Advisor as soon as possible to discuss your options so that you can decide how you would like to proceed. The Human Rights Advisor can provide you with guidance about how to document your concerns so that you have the necessary information if you decide to proceed with a complaint or report.  In some cases, this may include collection of supporting evidence such as emails, texts, messages, screenshots, etc.

If you are in immediate danger, contact the RCMP or dial 911.

Remember: it is against the law for anyone to retaliate against you for making a complaint in good faith.

Supports are available throughout the process

Reporting options and resolutions



StFX's Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures are based on principles of fairness and due process for complainants and respondents. StFX is committed to providing a complaints process that is fair, unbiased and facilitative for all parties.

Contact the Human Rights Advisor if you want to access information and support about your rights, or if you are ready to move forward with a complaint.  The Advisor can provide you with information about your rights and discuss formal and informal reporting options.

Typically, once an individual decides to file a complaint, the complaint resolution process takes one of two forms:

 Informal resolution  can involve communicating directly to the respondent that his or her comments or behaviour are unwelcome and offensive, a voluntary apology from the respondent, participation in discussion or informal mediation facilitated by the Human Rights Advisor or some form of communication that brings about a mutually satisfactory resolution to your concerns. Both parties have the right to withdraw from the process and/or initiate a formal resolution at any time.  If one or both parties withdraw from the informal process, it may proceed to the formal resolution process.  

Formal resolution typically starts with an investigation. If an investigation takes place, an investigator will be assigned to your complaint. They will interview you, the respondent, and witnesses, review available documentation and make a finding which will be returned to both you and the respondent.

Support is available throughout this process


I’ve been accused of harassment. What do I do?

If you have been accused of harassment, you will be provided with an opportunity to understand the claim against you and to provide a full response.  The Human Rights and Equity Advisor can provide you with information and support about this process and how to respond to the complaint.

Support  is available throughout the process