Our Vision

Art is everything.


JAYU is a registered Canadian charity and a leader in the space where the arts and human rights intersect.

We believe strongly that the arts provide the strongest platform to share human rights stories. The arts can be used to educate, to build empathy, to heal, to forge community and to inspire the kinds of conversations necessary to reimagine a more just and equitable world.

Guided by our dedicated team of staff, artists, educators and our Board of Directors, our year-round programming includes our annual Human Rights Film Festival, our iAM arts and social justice training program, The Hum Podcast and our Human Rights Screening Series.


Our History

Born from necessity.


Before JAYU started, founder Gilad Cohen was working with North Korean refugees and helping with resettlement efforts both in Toronto and in South Korea.

Despite the successes that came along with the work, the one thing he had trouble doing was convincing his own family that this was work worth doing. All of that changed when his mom sat down with him and watched a film on North Korea.

Moved by the impact it had on his family, Gilad wondered what would happen if he could pack a cinema full of people and recreate this experience. So in 2012, Gilad put together a team of people, launched a festival and set the roots for what would eventually become JAYU.

And the rest is history.


JAYU is freedom.

Stemming from our roots in North Korean human rights awareness, we named our organization JAYU (pronounced jah-you) which means freedom in Korean (자유). Although our organization now focuses on global human rights issues, we kept the name to pay homage to our roots