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    September 04, 2017

    We’re spending a month highlighting all the amazing ways you can help make a difference to refugees around the world.

    If you’ve ever felt helpless or hopeless hearing about the millions of people forced to flee their homes, we want to change all that so that you can do something you believe in.

    You’ve already taken the first step, probably without even realising it. As Mohamed,  a refugee from Somalia, explains:

    “There is a proverb in my culture which says an open heart is entered but not an open door. So if you see an open door you will not enter it, but you will enter it if the person who is there has an open heart. So I think having a great heart, it's the first thing.”

    August 28, 2017
    Ranea and Danea from Iraq have been stranded in Lesvos for 16 months

    The thing refugees need above all is a lasting, long-term solution. Without this, they have no real hope of rebuilding their lives.

    Imagine: you’re forced to flee your home and escape to another country. There, you are recognized as a refugee by either the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, or the local authorities. But you still face threats, abuses like sexual violence, or problems getting life-saving medical treatment.

    UNHCR will decide if you urgently need protection in another country. This is called resettlement. Canada, for example, opened its doors to 25,000 Syrian refugees between November 2015 and February 2016. Every single one reached their new home country in the only obvious way: by plane.

    But unfortunately, only a tiny fraction of refugees who qualify for resettlement have actually received that all-important call saying they can move abroad.

    August 28, 2017

    We’ve given you a global overview on refugees so far, but now it’s time to focus in on the situation local to you.

    Canada has been viewed as a global leader with respect to refugee protection. It has signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and other human rights instruments which protect refugees. Canada was the first country to set out guidelines for considering the refugee claims of women, and has taken an active role globally in the resettlement of refugees through both government and private sponsorship programs. In recent years however, Canada like many other countries, is creating more barriers for people seeking safety and security.

    Your voice is important in showing there is public support for welcoming refugees and demanding Canada does more.

    Here Gloria Nafziger explains how refugee issues became an actual electoral issue in Canada due to the demands of people who wanted more refugees resettled.

    August 28, 2017
    Protesters walking with Amnesty signs

    So, when we’re talking about refugees around the world, you might be wondering: where does Amnesty fit in?

    Amnesty International addresses the biggest challenges in the world today - inequality on the rise, ongoing crises and conflicts, those in power clamping down on people’s freedoms and more people than ever before fleeing their homes and seeking safety elsewhere.

    But to do that, we need your help to make sure we are the first on the scene in any emerging crisis, gathering crucial evidence so we can hold governments to account. And to make sure we can provide guidance and support to refugees at all stages of their journey; to help them find a safe welcome, so they can start to rebuild their lives.

    But to really show you where we’re making a difference, you need to hear about how we helped Baraa and his family.

    August 25, 2017

    Today, it’s all about the things you can’t always see.

    Look at the pictures below and see if you can tell – which person is a refugee? Which person gave refugees from Syria a place to stay? Which person is a professor of maths and business-owner? Which person is nurturing future soccer star?

    August 24, 2017
    The Ali family in Toronto

    We’re spending the month of September highlighting all the amazing ways you can make a difference to refugees at home in Canada, and around the world. We’ll be posting a new blog every day in September; you can follow along on our blog and social media channels, and remember to share what actions you are taking by using the hashtags #IWelcome and #AmnestyCanada .

    September 4: What is a refugee? Get informed – knowledge is power.

    September 5: Refugees in numbers

    September 6: Do the MOOC on refugees

    September 7: Stories behind the numbers

    September 8: Help us keep fighting for refugee rights

    September 9: Your support makes a difference

    August 14, 2017
    Robyn Fuller


    by Robyn Fuller   Presentation to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 14 August 2017   Good morning,    When I was a young girl the elders of my people the Dunne zatalked about a Prophecy.    A Prophecy of four dams that were to be built on the Peace River.   In the 1950’s the B.C government started looking at the Peace River as a potential site to build four Dams Site A, Site B, Site C, and Site D. In 1961 construction of Site A, now known as the W.A.C Bennett Dam was started. It was finished in 1968.  
    August 14, 2017

    Craig Benjamin, Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Amnesty International Canada

    and

    Gloria Nafziger, Refugee Campaigner for Amnesty International Canada

    A federal government that has branded itself as internationally engaged and committed to human rights is expected to face tough questions this week when its record is reviewed by the United Nations top anti-racism body. How the Trudeau government responds will be a crucial test of its willingness to match lofty rhetoric with real and meaningful action.

    This week’s hearing before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is one of a series of periodic reviews where independent, expert committees examine how well states are living up to their commitments under the various international human rights treaties that they’ve ratified. There were similar reviews of Canada in 2016 before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

    August 07, 2017

    By Jackie McVicar, Atlantic Region Solidarity Network

    Bev Sellars is constantly reminded about the deeply personal, social and cultural loss that she and others in her community of Williams Lake have suffered since the Mount Polley mine disaster in 2014. A few weeks ago, when the former Chief of the Xat’sull First Nation at Soda Creek, British Columbia was forced to evacuate her home because of the raging wildfires, she looked around and wondered what to take.

    July 10, 2017

    By Alex Neve

    To be here – to see, listen, learn and feel this place – the enormity of what is at stake with the construction of the Site C Dam and why it is so crucial that it be stopped is everywhere.

    It shines through in the Valley’s beauty; serene and majestic at the same time.  My first views of the Peace River were from lookouts offering sweeping views of a magnificent valley painted with more shades of green than I knew existed, always with the curving ribbon of water flowing through.  Each panorama was unbelievably more breathtaking than the last; topped by an early morning viewing that offered a low-hanging bank of mist that hugged the curves of the valley in ways that felt both mystic and mysterious.  

    July 06, 2017

    "We will continue to bring unrelenting opposition to a project that can only be described as an unqualified disaster." -Chief Lynette Tsakoza, Prophet River responding to Supreme Court of Canada ruling closing off one part to justice in the Site C struggle

    Whatever your feelings about British Columbia’s Site C dam, whether you think the hydro-electric megaproject is needed or if you think there are better ways to invest in the province’s future, it should be clear that an unacceptable injustice is taking place.

    The 100 km of the Peace River and its tributaries that will be flooded by Site C are part of the territory of Treaty 8, an historic Treaty between First Nations and Canada. Like other Treaties, the rights protected under Treaty 8 are recognized and affirmed in the Canadian Constitution. In other words, they are part of the highest law of the land.

    Yet, the federal and provincial governments openly admit that they approved the Site C dam without ever considering whether the “severe”, “permanent” and “irreversible” harms identified by their own environmental assessment would violate Treaty 8.

    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 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 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.

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