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    October 11, 2017

    “Our economy walks on the land and swims in the waters”

    In a one-room, circular building, modelled on a traditional Secwepemc winter pit house, water defender Jacinda Mack stands before the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and describes the effects of colonialism on her people, the Secwepemc of British Columbia. The consequences of more than 150 years of government assault on Indigenous identity and self-determination are personally exhausting, she says. However, her love of her people and the waters of her territory motivate her to keep fighting for justice.

    October 11, 2017
    Alex Neve (left), Alex Xavier (centre), and Jackie Hansen (right) in Parliament when Bill C-16 on gender identity was tabled in June 2016.

    In Conversation with Amnesty International’s LGBTI Rights Coordinator Alexander Xavier

    Ottawa-based Alexander Xavier is one of Amnesty International Canada’s two LGBTI Coordinators. He has served on Amnesty’s board of directors, and has been an Amnesty supporter since he was in high school. In October 2017, we had a chat with Alexander about his long history with Amnesty and what motivates him to continue so fervantly advocating for LGBTI rights in Canada and around the world.

    Alex, how did you first get involved with Amnesty?

    In high school I became acquainted with Amnesty as I learned about the death penalty. I joined an Amnesty student group, later attended Amnesty’s Human Rights College, and got involved with Amnesty’s student and youth program.

    October 02, 2017
    Chief Roland Willson with solidarity messages from around the world

    Within weeks, the new provincial government in British Columbia will make a decision whether or not the Peace River Valley will be protected from destruction by the Site C dam.

    September 29, 2017

    Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is too important to take place in a piecemeal or haphazard way. 

    That’s why Amnesty International has joined with Indigenous Peoples' organizations and other partners to call on the federal government to embrace and build on the framework offered by a private members bill, Bill C-262, that is now before Parliament.

    September 28, 2017
    Amnesty members marching

    Today, we want to hear from you. We’ve told you people’s stories and shared lots of ideas on how you can make a difference.

    But you’re the expert - you’re the one with the interest in and knowledge of your own community. So tell us, what do you think you, or others, could do to welcome refugees?

    Are there things we haven’t thought of that you think could work? Have you seen an initiative in your local community that you think is interesting or different?

    Please share these ideas and thoughts with us. We definitely don’t have all the answers, and to make this work, we need action and input from people like you.

    Thank you once again for all your support.

    September 27, 2017

    We’re coming to the last few days left in the 30 days, but your efforts don’t have to stop here.

    Keep following us on Facebook, like and share any and all posts you agree with from anyone anywhere that talk about refugees, and above all, keep talking about refugee issues any time you get the chance.

    You’ve come a long way over this past month, perhaps without realising it. You’ve taken in a lot of knowledge and done a lot of research into your own situation.

    Share that expertise and passion with anyone you can at all opportunities. Slowly but surely, as more and more people come to understand and empathise with refugee issues, you will see a real change to your society as a whole.

    Here’s a reminder of what Gloria Nafziger from Amnesty International says about how you can make change happen. Don’t stop now!

    September 26, 2017
    I Welcome Refugees door hanger on a door

    Today it’s time to show the world that you welcome refugees.

    You have read and heard so many stories, and seen the many different, simple ways you can help refugees. But if you feel happy to do so, telling people you welcome refugees could well inspire others to join you.

    You can make it a post on social media, or you can order I Welcome doorhangers and buttons from the online shop.

    Show the world that you are someone who welcomes refugees and see if others follow your lead.

    September 25, 2017

    Families that are fleeing conflict are often separated along the way, and sometimes they have to make difficult decisions about where to stay. This can be a huge source of stress for refugees when they are resettled, as they are constantly thinking about the family members they have left behind. Louai’s story here shows just how important connections to family elsewhere are.

    Some countries allow for families to reunited, which means that refugees can bring over family members if they can help support them.

    Today, find out what your government’s policy is on family reunification. See if there is any way you can tell your politicians to allow more families to be reunited.

    To see why this is important, here is Randa and Sham’s story.

    September 23, 2017

    Do you have children, or do you have links to a school in your community? Perhaps you’re a teacher or work in a school in some other capacity?

    If you can get your local school involved and interested in supporting refugees, you might be really surprised by the results.

    For teachers, talking about refugees provides a way for children to experience the wider world around them, by hearing people’s stories and imagining how they would feel in a similar situation.

    For parents, you might be surprised at how engaged the children become with the issues, and just how much they get out of it.

    Watch teachers, pupils and parents at Edmison Heights School in Peterborough, Canada, talking about what how they all loved doing their bit for a local refugee family.

    September 22, 2017

    By: Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada

    On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the UN General Assembly that Canada is prepared to learn “the difficult lessons” of its long history of mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples and, as a result, other countries have much to learn from Canada’s example.

    “We know that the world expects Canada to strictly adhere to international human rights standards including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – and that’s what we expect of ourselves too,” is how he framed the imperative. 

    Ironically, the prime minister’s presentation to the General Assembly came less than a month after the UN’s top anti-racism body sharply rebuked his government for dodging its responsibilities to Indigenous Peoples, even as immediate action is urgently needed.

    Read Alex's full OPED in the Ottawa Citizen.

    September 22, 2017

    What companies are big in your country? Who employs a big workforce where you are? You could enlist these companies or individuals in helping refugees too.

    Around the world, lots of businesses have either made it a policy to employ refugees, or have created dedicated training schemes to equip refugees with skills that a local employer will recognise.

    For example, the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Toronto, Canada, has a six-week training course in hospitality specifically for refugees. Watch their General Manager talking about how the scheme is a win-win for them.

    All it takes is for you to ask – so you could approach businesses in your community and ask them to make a specific commitment to train or employ refugees.

    Learn more:

    They fled war in Syria. Today, they manufacture emergency equipment for Canadians (National Observer)

    September 21, 2017
    Ed Sheeran playing in Washington

    On 20 September, across more than 200 cities in 60 countries, musicians, artists, activists and local communities came together in a statement of support for the world’s refugees.

    Give a Home, a collaboration between Amnesty International and Sofar Sounds, saw living rooms across the globe play host to more than 300 special performances from some of the world’s leading musicians.

    The gigs, which included performances from Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé, Jessie Ware, Rudimental, Sauti Sol, Freshlyground, Ludovico Einaudi, the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, Mashrou’ Leila, Faarrow and many more, were all about celebrating a single message of solidarity: Refugees are welcome.

    At a time when the plight of refugees the world over is in the headlines on a daily basis, and with governments pursuing ever more restrictive policies to keep refugees out, it’s a message that’s more urgent now than it’s been in most of our lifetimes.

    September 21, 2017

    “Canada is built on the ancestral land of Indigenous peoples but regrettably it is also a country that came into being without the meaningful participation of those who were there first. And even where Treaties had been formed to provide a basis for proper relations, they have not been fully honoured or implemented.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressing the UN General Assembly the day after an interim report on the Site C dam was released

    “The joint federal-provincial environmental impact assessment of the Site C dam was clear that flooding the Peace River Valley would destroy hundreds of graves and other cultural sites and cause severe, permanent and irreversible harm to the natural environment on which we rely. All this was pushed aside in the rush to build Site C.” Prophet River Chief Lynette Tsakoza responding to the Site C interim report

    Three years ago, the federal government approved one of the most environmentally destructive resource development projects in Canada, over the opposition of profoundly affected First Nations.

    September 21, 2017
    Toronto Councillor Joe Mihevc with the Syrian Family he sponsored

    Lots of the examples and stories shared over the past 20 days have been from Canada, and that’s for a very good reason. Canada has had a private refugee sponsorship programme that has existed since the 1970s, and has resettled tens of thousands of refugees through private sponsorship

    Here is a video with Canadian sponsors, and refugees, talking about the scheme and why it is so important.

    Does this sound like something you would like to be part of?

    Contact the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program to find about about refugee sponsorship opportunities in Canada



    See all refugee stories

    September 20, 2017

    What are you good at? You may find that one of your key skills is actually something you could share with refugees.

    Do you speak another language? If there are refugees that need help with interpreting, you could volunteer your skills and make a vital difference.

    Perhaps you are a teacher of your native language? It is crucial for refugees to learn the language in the country they want to settle in, so you could volunteer to teach them, even in the short-term.

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