Members celebrate Have a Heart Day
by Alanna Smith, member of AI Toronto and Action Network on Women's Human Rights
On Wednesday February 12th the Amnesty's Action Network on Women’s Human Rights and fellow Amnesty supporters met at the AITO office in Toronto to create Valentine cards for Prime Minister Harper, in support of the Have a Heart Campaign by First Nations Child and Family Services. The campaign aims to raise awareness and promote change regarding the basic human rights of First Nations children and this is the third year in a row the event is being organized in the AI Toronto offices.
A lot of colourful and creative cards were made by participants (for many of them this was their first AI event!) and here are some of the heartfelt messages:
“Roses are red/ Dahlias are black/First Nations children/Need you to have their back!”
“This Canadian heart has a safe home, a good education, is healthy, is proud of our culture. But not all Canadian hearts enjoy such services. Give First Nations children the same chance to grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy and proud of their cultures.”
- “Dear PM Harper, Have a Heart! Don’t make First Nations children fight for services all other Canadians enjoy!”
We were fortunate to screen Hi-Ho Mistahey!, a 2013 National Film Board of Canada documentary film by internationally acclaimed filmmaker and activist Alanis Obomsawin. The film profiles Shannen's Dream, an activist campaign launched by Cree teenager Shannen Koostachin, to lobby for improved educational opportunities for First Nations youth. After the film the audience discussed the inequalities happening in our country and genuine shock was felt by all regarding how long this issue has been in front of our government with very little improvements to this day.
I’m however extremely optimistic after witnessing in Hi-Ho Mistahey! the huge youth movement supporting this campaign. I’m proud to take part in Have a Heart Day and will continue to do so until the Canadian Government closes the gaps in funding and services for First Nations children.
Watch our interview with Cindy Blackstock from First Nation Child and Family Services: