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    May 31, 2017

    On Saturday May 27th, the inspirational Indigenous rights movement in Canada and global music artist and activist Alicia Keys were honoured with the 2017 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award at an evening ceremony in Montreal.

    The award is the organization’s highest honour for human rights work. This is the first time the award was given to a Canadian recipient and held in Canada. 

    “Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience awardees this year stand in the tradition of past winners such as Vaclav Havel and Malala Yousafzai – people who have shown exceptional leadership and courage to champion human rights, often in the face of great difficulty,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    May 31, 2017
    George Desjarlais of West Moberly First Nation at Paddle for the Peace

    By Craig Benjamin, Indigenous Rights Campaigner for Amnesty International Canada

    The leaders of the British Columbia NDP and Green parties announced yesterday that when they form the provincial government they will send the Site C megaproject to the independent BC Utilities Commission for a long overdue review.

    Such a review, which will try to determine the province's actual energy needs and whether the cost of Site C is warranted, is widely expected to be the death knell for the $9 billion plus project.

    Critically, however, the province needs to come to terms with the consequences of outgoing Premier Christy Clark's drive to push the dam to what she referred to as “the point of no return.”

    A University of British Columbia study recently concluded that stopping the project is still a better use of money than building a dam that will produce more power than is needed for decades. So far, the ecological harm to the Peace Valley is still reversible.

    May 26, 2017
    Alicia Keys and Indigenous Rights Activist Delilah Saunders: In Conversation

    Ahead of the Ambassador of Conscience Awards this weekend in Montreal, Alicia Keys talked with Indigenous rights activist Delilah Saunders in Teen Vogue.

    On May 27, human rights organization Amnesty International will honor music artist and activist Alicia Keys and the Indigenous rights movement in Canada with its prestigious Ambassador of Conscience Award at a ceremony in Montreal. One of six powerful activists accepting the award and standing for Canada's Indigenous people — arguably the wealthy nation's most marginalized community — is Delilah Saunders, who has committed her life to support the cause after her sister, Loretta, was murdered. At the time of her death, Loretta was writing her thesis on the history of violence against Indigenous women and girls, an ongoing crisis that went unaddressed by Canada's government until a national inquiry was opened in 2015.

    May 26, 2017
    Alicia Keys
    Ahead of a visit to Montreal, where the singer-song-writer will accept Amnesty International’s highest honour for activism, Keys talks politics and poutine with 

    By Amanda Ghazale Aziz for Chatelaine

    For Alicia Keys, a 15-time Grammy winner, former host of The Voice and proud wearer of no makeup, being an artist and an activist are one in the same. In 2003, she co-founded Keep a Child a Alive, a non-profit devoted to providing treatment to kids and families affected by HIV in India, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda. And in 2014 she started the We Are Here Movement, a coalition of organizations that encourages youth to fight for equality, racial justice and environmental consciousness, among other causes.

    May 03, 2017

    By Fiona Koza

    Nevsun Resources has joined the ranks of Vancouver-based mining companies on trial for human rights abuses allegedly committed at overseas mines. Nevsun is accused of complicity in torture and slavery at its Bisha mine, a joint-venture with the government of Eritrea. Nevsun shareholders deserve to know about these extremely serious allegations, which is why several organizations including Amnesty International held a rally outside Nevsun Resource’s Annual General Meeting in Vancouver this morning.

    The lawsuit against Nevsun claims that the plaintiffs in the case were subject to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” while forced to work at the company’s Bisha mine, facing “long hours, malnutrition and forced confinement for little pay.” They allege they “worked under the constant threat of physical punishment, torture and imprisonment” and that Nevsun, by entering into a commercial relationship with the government of Eritrea, “became an accomplice to the use of forced labour, crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses.”

    May 16, 2017

    On the eve of the final Senate committee hearings on Bill C-16 on Gender Identity, Amnesty’s women’s rights campaigner Jackie Hansen caught up with violence against women advocate and LGBTI social worker Dillon Black of the Ottawa Coalition to end Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW), to talk about the significance of Bill C-16 in promoting gender equality. Dillon sits on the Minister of the Status of Women to the Government of Canada’s Advisory Council to Help Shape the Federal Strategy on Gender-Based Violence.

    April 24, 2017

    Almost 10 years have passed since the United Nations voted to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a global standard of human rights protection.

    There can be no doubt that the adoption of the Declaration was a landmark moment for human rights globally and a triumph for the Indigenous peoples’ movement in particular.

    Before the Declaration could be adopted, Indigenous peoples had to prevail over the reluctance, resistance and sometimes outright hostility of some states.

    In doing so, Indigenous peoples were able to advance a vital global human rights instrument, one that repudiates centuries of violence, dispossession and marginalization and closes the gaps in rights protection available to the societies, families and individuals who must contend daily with the legacy of those abuses and with new manifestations of permutations of the same racism and discrimination.

    April 20, 2017
    Sign in the Peace Valley shows potential flooding impact of the Site C dam

    Two things need to be said up front about British Columbia’s Site C dam.

    The first is that flooding more than 100km of the Peace River Valley and its tributaries will be profoundly harmful to lives and well-being of Indigenous peoples in northeast BC, which is why there has been such strong opposition to the dam from Treaty 8 First Nations.

    The Peace River Valley is a unique ecosystem supporting plants and animal populations crucial to Cree and Dene-Zaa cultural traditions. It is also the location of countless graves and historic sites. On top of that, the valley is also one of the few remaining areas in the northeast that have been largely protected from the impacts of pervasive resource development in the region.

    The independent panel that conducted the environmental assessment of Site C on behalf of the federal and provincial governments called these impacts severe, permanent and irreversible.

    April 13, 2017

    By: Marium Yousuf

    On a beautiful, crisp sunny day last weekend, Amnesty International, Sojurn House, Culture Link and the Centre for Victims of Torture held an event in Toronto to mark Canada’s Refugee Rights Day (April 4). The tone was deliberately celebratory, with performances from the Nai Syrian Kids Choir, poet Ama Luna and poet/singer, song-writer Ruth Mathiang that left the audience captivated all afternoon.

    The Nai Syrian Kids Choir immediately captured everyone’s attention as they streamed through the room in their yellow uniforms. Ranging between the ages from 6-12, it was hard to imagine that these smiling young faces had experienced war and loss, having recently resettled in Canada as Syrian refugees. The Choir is an initiative of Culture Link and serves as a space for children to deal with their loss, grief and hope through music, while their parents practice conversational English with ESL teachers. Their performances did not disappoint: singing songs in Arabic, French and English, while their beaming parents cheered them on.

    April 13, 2017

    On May 9th, a provincial election will be held in British Columbia. Amnesty International  is urging all candidates to make clear public commitments to closing crucial gaps in oversight, accountability, and service delivery that jeopardize the safety, health and well-being of many British Columbians and undermine human rights protection in the province.

    We need your help! We're asking all our supporters in British Columbia to help us ensure that human rights are part of this election.

    Here's how: 

    1. Learn more 

    Amnesty International has issued an open letter to all candidates in this election outlining our concerns, including:

    April 03, 2017
    A refugee in Montreal looks out a window over the city

    By Gloria Nafziger: Refugee Coordinator Amnesty International

    “It was like Donald Trump had awakened a dormant volcano that was ready to erupt at any time; and I didn’t want to be a part of it”

    April 4 is Refugee Rights Day in Canada.  This is the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1985 Singh decision, which recognized that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects refugees' fundamental rights.  The Court decided that refugee claimants are included in the Charter sentence: ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.’ 

    This means that, in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice and international law, refugees who enter Canada from the United States and make a refugee claim are entitled to an oral hearing.

    March 27, 2017

    By Tara Scurr, Business and Human Rights Campaigner. Follow Tara on Twitter @AIBHRGuatemala.

    The Mount Polley copper mine tailings pond spill in August 2014 may have faded from the headlines, but people in BC living near the spill site who rely on the region for food, medicines and livelihoods are still suffering from all they have lost. And, they are concerned that Quesnel Lake and its tributaries may be irreversibly contaminated by toxic tailings from the spill and ongoing mine water discharges. 

    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.

    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 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.

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