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    March 20, 2017

    *By: Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada’s English branch, and Béatrice Vaugrante, director-general of Amnesty International Canada’s Francophone branch

    Progress in ending the brutal worldwide scourge of torture requires ensuring accountability for this terrible crime. Torturers and those who aid and authorize torture must face justice. Survivors of torture and the families of men and women who suffer and, sadly, often die under torture must receive redress for what they have endured.

    So obvious. But so universally neglected.

    That is why the welcome news that Canadian citizens Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin are receiving a long-overdue apology and compensation for the many ways that Canadian action and inaction set them up to be tortured in Syria (and also Egypt in Mr. El Maati’s case) is an important step in the right direction.

    March 08, 2017
    The Mount Polley mine disaster of 2014 opened a Pandora’s box, revealing weak mining laws, poor oversight and enforcement, poor corporate practices, underfunded financial sureties for mine clean up, poor dam design, and eye-brow raising corporate donations.

    The chaos of BC’s mining regulatory system was laid bare.  

    Today, the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre released a new report commissioned by the Fair Mining Collaborative. Together, the two groups also issued a formal request to Premier Christy Clark and the Lieutenant Governor in Council asking the government to establish a Judicial Commission of Public Inquiry into improving BC's mining regulations. 

    March 04, 2017

    Rebecca Kudloo and Rhoda Ungalaq both serve on Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada’s Board of Directors. Rebecca, an educator and counsellor from Baker Lake, Nunavut, is involved with Mianiqsijit, a local project providing counselling to address inter-generational trauma. Rhoda Ungalaq, a retired teacher in Iqaluit, Nunavut, is a board member for the Qimaavik Women’s Shelter and Sivummut House (homeless shelter for women), operated by the YWCA Agvik Nunavut.

    Rebecca and Rhoda sat down in Ottawa with Amnesty International’s Women’s Rights Campaigner Jackie Hansen last week to talk about the inadequacy of services in the north for Inuit women fleeing violence. Join Rebecca and Rhoda and take action now to call on the federal government to support the supports and services needed by Inuit women fleeing violence.

    February 23, 2017
    From Mitchell Bay: Quesnel Lake frozen over
    Many of us have special places in nature that we go to when we need to unwind or think.

    These places may be dark forest trails that burst open into sunlit sandy beaches, tiny, hidden lakes, or rocky outcrops over-looking mighty rivers. Mine is a wide, sunny beach on the east coast of Vancouver Island. For Christine McLean, it’s a spot on her property in Mitchell Bay on Quesnel Lake, in central British Columbia.

    Christine is a water defender from Alberta who, together with her husband, bought their dream retirement property on the pristine lake a few years ago. At the time, she had no idea what the future would hold: a mining disaster of previously unseen proportions in Canada in the hills above the lake. The Mount Polley tailings pond breach of August 4, 2014, sent 24 million cubic litres of water and toxic mine waste into surrounding waters and ultimately, into Quesnel Lake.

    February 15, 2017

    Increase local resources for health care services and safe houses, to enhance capacity to respond to sexual assaults. Label employee vehicles with numbered decals to decrease anonymity in the local community. Involve local Indigenous communities in the delivery of cultural competency training for resource sector workers.

    These are just a few of the many concrete, practical measures that women from the Lake Babine and Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nations have identified to address harmful impacts experienced by Indigenous women and girls with large-scale resource development projects and associated industrial camps situated on or near their territories. The recommendations are found in an important new report, Indigenous Communities and Industrial Camps: Promoting Healthy Communities in Settings of Industrial Change. 

    February 13, 2017
    Allan Lissner/FreeGrassy.net

     “I thank the grassroots people of Grassy Narrows, and our supporters who have been tireless in their work to gain justice for mercury survivors at long last.” -- Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister

    The province of Ontario has just made a public commitment to clean up the river system on which the people of Grassy Narrows depend.

    The announcement follows a meeting between Premier Kathleen Wynne and the people of Grassy Narrows last Friday.

    The province’s commitment reportedly includes a promise that the river clean up will be led by the people of Grassy Narrows themselves.

    Grassy Narrows is the site of one of the worst incidents of industrial pollution in Canada. A half century ago, an upstream pulp and paper mill was allowed to dump tonnes of mercury into the river system. The people of Grassy Narrows are still dealing with the disastrous impacts on their health and way of life.

    February 10, 2017

    After days of speculation and rumours, the first official meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump has been scheduled. To say there is much anticipation would be understatement. The meeting comes in a moment of great uncertainty for the relationship between the two countries, as the new US administration has called into question some of the very underpinnings of Canada’s deepest partnership.

    Of particularly grave concern is the fact that President Trump has rapidly undertaken to translate some of his most toxic campaign rhetoric into official policy. Some of those policies and positions blatantly undermine fundamental human rights. Others go further, directly violating of international law.  Canadians have been aghast at these developments and have taken to the streets and social media in unprecedented numbers.

    February 09, 2017

    For the overwhelming majority of Canadians, access to safe drinking water is something we take for granted. Any interruptions to the flow of clean water from our taps are rare and momentary, lasting a few hours or perhaps days at most.

    It’s an entirely different story for a shocking number of First Nations.

    As of last Fall, 110 First Nations were living under advisories to either boil their water or not drink it at all. The number is often much higher. In many cases, these advisories have been in place for years. In some instances, First Nations have lived a generation or longer without safe, reliable water.

    Prime Minister Trudeau has made a public commitment to end this water insecurity by 2020. It’s a welcome and important promise. But unfortunately it’s one that the federal government is in very real danger of breaking.

    February 03, 2017

    Adolfo Garcia (pictured, second from the left), is a quiet, serious middle-aged farmer from Guatemala. Once the Guatemalan government began issuing mining licenses in Santa Rosa, he dedicated his life to protecting the land and water for future generations of farmers and residents of his small town in south-east Guatemala.

    Adolfo has since experienced terrible injustice and violence. During a peaceful protest in 2013, Adolfo, his son, and five other men were shot and gravely injured outside a silver mine owned by Canadian company, Tahoe Resources. Adolfo’s then-teenaged son, Luis Fernando, was shot in the face, requiring extensive and painful reconstructive surgeries to enable him to breathe again. Adolfo and his wife nearly lost their family home to pay for the operations. 

    January 26, 2017

    One year ago, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the Canadian government`s persistent underfunding of supports for First Nations families was a form of racial discrimination – and ordered immediate action.

    It was a landmark day for human rights and for the thousands of First Nations children and young people living in state care simply because First Nations children`s agencies are unable to provide the support their families need.

    But a full year later, the most basic form of discrimination identified by the Tribunal – the failure to provide enough funds to meet the actual needs of First Nations children and families – has not been addressed.

    In last year`s federal budget, the government significantly increased the funds allocated for First Nations family services. But the increase was not enough to close the gap between First Nations children and all other children in Canada.

    A year is a long time in the life of a children taken from her family and community.

    January 24, 2017

    Amnesty International is pressing the Canadian government to take decisive action on human rights at home and on the world stage during 2017. The call comes as we release our annual Human Rights Agenda for Canada, pressing the federal government to build on progress seen in 2016 while addressing ongoing serious human rights shortcomings.

    January 23, 2017

    By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women's Rights Campaigner, Amnesty Internatioanl Canada

    Amnesty yellow mingled with the Women’s March on Washington’s signature pink toques at solidarity marches from St. John's to Victoria on Saturday, January 21. Amnesty supporters were amongst the 3+ million march participants worldwide. We marched against fear, hate, and in support of love, equality and justice. We marched for women’s rights and for LGBTI rights.

    On inauguration day, many women and LGBTI people felt invisible in the president’s speech, erased from the White House’s list of policy priorities, and concerned about the potential impacts of new policies on civil liberties, the shrinking space for civil society, women’s rights, and LGBTI rights.

    January 17, 2017

    By Craig Benjamin

    It’s information that the Ontario government could – and should – have brought to light, but failed to do so.

    Last year, the provincial government stated that it had not been able to find any evidence to support claims by a former millworker that barrels of mercury had been buried at a site upstream from the Grassy Narrows First Nation and might now be leaching into their water system.

    Last week, however, the Toronto Star reported that members of the environmental NGO Earthroots had conducted their own soil tests at a location identified by the mill worker and found mercury levels as much as 80 times higher than normal. The findings were replicated by tests done by the Toronto Star. Scientists who reviewed the finding said there was little doubt that this was industrial mercury.

    The story is particularly concerning because it is the latest revelation of Ontario’s persistent and shocking disregard for the basic safety and well-being of the people of Grassy Narrows.

    January 11, 2017

    On Saturday, January 21, the day after the US presidential inauguration, Amnesty International supporters will be amongst the hundreds of thousands of people marching in Washington, DC in support of women’s rights. Not able to travel to Washington, DC? Join one of the solidarity marches taking place across Canada.

    November 28, 2016
    Jerry holding a sign saying 'Save the Arctic, It's my home'

    It’s been almost 20 years since the Supreme Court of Canada first ruled that the Constitutional protection of Indigenous rights requires governments to consult in “good faith” with Indigenous peoples so that their concerns can be “substantially” addressed before decisions are made that could affect their rights.

    While the federal, provincial and territorial governments now all accept that there is a duty to consult, their interpretation of this duty is often so narrow and impoverished that serious concerns over the impact of planned development are simply ignored. Rather than being a source of reconciliation and rights protection as intended in decisions like Delgamuukw (1997) and Haida Nation (2004), the duty to consult as applied by governments in Canada has been a source of ongoing conflict with projects like Northern Gateway and the Site C dam all ending up in court at tremendous cost to Indigenous peoples.

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