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    April 15, 2016

    Today is the 104th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.  On this day in 1912, some 1,514 people perished in the frigid waters of the Atlantic.  That is tragedy enough but 468 of those 1,514 people drowned entirely needlessly.  There were exactly 468 empty seats in the lifeboats launched from the Titanic.

    Perhaps it is not so easy to count the avoidable deaths in today’s refugee crisis.  But a clear analogy can be drawn.  The wealthy States of 2016 represent a lifeboat for the forcibly displaced.  How many lives are lost every day, as a result of States’ failure to respond adequately to the current refugee crisis?  Many States have the capacity, but lack the leadership to accept and protect more refugees, leaving empty seats in the lifeboats.  The developing world shoulders a disproportionate share of the responsibility to protect refugees.  Wealthier states can and must do more.

    April 14, 2016

    “We are inspired and deeply honoured to have the support of so many individuals in our fight to stop the proposed Site C Dam."  - Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations

    West Moberly is one of the First Nations in the Treaty 8 region of northeastern BC that vigorously objected to the Site C dam through the environmental assessment review process. The report of that independent review set out a clear case against the dam, including the irreversible harm that it will cause to one of the few remaining areas where West Moberly and other First Nations can exercise their rights, the destruction of hundreds of cultural sites, and the province's failure to properly other, less harmful alternatives. 

    March 25, 2016

     

    A poison pen letter has been circulating through e-mail and social media for several years now, which falsely claims that refugees receive significantly more income assistance than Canadian pensioners.  Readers of the missive are invited to share the author’s outrage.  But the provocative claims have been disproven by the Government of Canada and by the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR).

     

    For example, the Cholokian family will not receive any government assistance from Canada or from their new home province, British Columbia. They came to Canada as privately sponsored refugees.  Mania, her spouse Asved, and their two sons arrived on December 31, 2015.  The family fled Syria because of escalating violence and spent three years as refugees in Lebanon.

     

    “Refugees come to Canada in different ways, but no matter the category, refugees receive very limited income assistance from the government,” states the CCR.  So here are the facts:

     

    March 22, 2016
    TAKE ACTION ON THE SITE C DAM

     

    Last summer, First Nations from north-eastern British Columbia brought more than 90 kg of trout to the provincial legislature. The fish had been caught in the Crooked River, one of the places where the people of the West Moberly First Nations have camped and fished throughout their whole history. But none of it was fit to eat.

    March 21, 2016
    Garnotte - Refugee 'choices'

    Take the Refugees Welcome Here Pledge! 

    March 15, 2016

    What do dance, apps, films, standing on a bridge, and a feminist New Year's celebration have in common?



    On International Women's Day, they were some of the many ways that Amnesty International activists across Canada celebrated achievements in the global struggle for gender equality and took actions to help create a more just and equal world.

    March 09, 2016

    On March 7  the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) issued a brief news release reporting the death of a person held for immigration related reasons at the Toronto East Detention Centre.  The name of the person and circumstances surrounding the death are not known.

    This death once again shines a spotlight on what has been described as the ‘legal black hole’ of Canada’s immigration detention regime.  At least 13 people are known to have died in the custody of CBSA and its predecessor since 2000. Reports of a death or mistreatment of individuals while in immigration detention are alarming as there is no independent agency with a mandate for the oversight of CBSA. CBSA is the only major Canadian law enforcement agency which has  no independent oversight.

    March 07, 2016

     

    “You have to understand that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land,” writes Warsan Shire, a Somali-British poet. 

     

    On Friday, March 4, 2016, a Turkish court sentenced two Syrian nationals found guilty in the smuggling of 3 year old Alan Kurdi and his family.  The photograph of Alan’s lifeless body on a beach in Turkey became the catalyst for an outpouring of sympathy for Syrian refugees in Canada and beyond.  Alan’s father, Abdullah must live with the devastating result of joining his family on a tiny boat in the hope they would all find safety.  His wife and two sons, as well as two other people, perished on that journey.  Far from abating, the number of refugees attempting dangerous maritime crossings continues to grow.

     

    Refugees are fleeing desperate situations and will do whatever they must to save their lives.  Often they have no choice but to turn to smugglers to help them escape.

     

    March 02, 2016

    "My major concern with the impact of Site C is that this is my home. This is where I want to raise my children and my grandchildren. And this is where my people are from." - Helen Knott

    BY ALEX NEVE, SECRETARY GENERAL, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CANADA

    Wherever you live in this country, British Columbia’s Site C dam should concern you. At a projected cost of almost $9 billion and rising, the hydro-electric project in the Peace River Valley is one of the largest resource development projects underway anywhere in Canada. But more than that, the Site C dam shines a bright light on the fundamental injustices that – despite promise of reconciliation and a new relationship - continue to characterize the treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

    A joint federal-provincial review of the Site C dam came to these telling conclusions:

    February 29, 2016

    “I will get it past the point of no return.” -  BC Premier Christy Clark on the Site C dam

    Efforts to defend the rights of Indigenous peoples in the Peace Valley of British Columbia took a worrying turn today.

    A BC Court has ordered a group called the Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land to leave their culture camp at an historic site on the Peace River. 

    Since January 1 of this year, the culture camp has been the only thing standing in the way of BC Hydro’s plans to log the valley floor in preparation of construction of the Site C dam.

    It’s expected that BC Hydro will now move quickly to clear cut large areas of old growth and other unique forest habitat of critical importance to the cultures and way of life of Indigenous peoples of Indigenous peoples in the region.

    February 19, 2016

    Before and after images show destruction that has already occurred as construction of Site C dam presses ahead
     

    Indigenous activist explains the importance of halting the Site C dam

    When Helen Knott talks about the importance of the Peace Valley, she inevitably also talks about her grandmother. About time spent together out on the land, learning the stories that have been passed down through the generations. Learning the skills of how to live on the land. And trying to ensure that this knowledge can be passed on to her own son.

    “All my grandmother’s stories are connected to land,” says Helen. “It’s like that for our elders. You have to be on the land to be able to share those memories.”

    February 16, 2016

    "Mohammad" arrived at the Canada-US at Fort Erie in early January.  He is a 16 year old boy from Syria who came to Canada looking for protection.  It is reported that he was immediately detained and held in isolation in an immigration holding centre in Toronto for three weeks. Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has ordered that he be deported back to the United States.  According to the Canada-US ‘Safe Third Country Agreement’ a refugee must make a refugee claim in the first country in which they arrive; either Canada or the United States.  There is an exception to this agreement for unaccompanied minors, but the Canadian officials decided the exception did not apply in Mohammad’s case.

    February 01, 2016

    By journalist and former prisoner of conscience Mohamed Fahmy @MFFahmy11 with Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve @AlexNeveAmnesty

    Held in an Egyptian jail for more than a year, Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy felt let down by Ottawa’s efforts to help him. Here he offers 12 ways the government can do better:

    In solitary confinement in a freezing Egyptian jail cell, with no sunlight or fresh air, my one hope was that the Canadian government was doing everything possible at the highest levels to advocate for my rights and for my release.

    I was let down.

    I am safely home now. But around the world there are other Canadian citizens, permanent residents and men and women with close Canadian connections who face dire conditions in foreign jails. They are unjustly imprisoned, held incommunicado, subjected to unfair trials, at risk of torture or under sentence of death.

    They too want to believe the Canadian government will spare no effort on their behalf.

    January 26, 2016
    “This is a great day for First Nations children and all Canadians who believe in justice and fairness.” Dr. Cindy Blackstock, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

    In a landmark decision issued today, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that the federal government’s longstanding underfunding of child and family services on First Nations reserves and in the Yukon is a form of racial discrimination that must be stopped.

    January 20, 2016

    “Reconciliation means not having to say sorry twice,” Dr. Cindy Blackstock, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

    Education. Health Care. Child protection.

    For years, persistent federal government underfunding of these basic services in First Nations reserves has put  children at risk. It has denied them the kinds of opportunities that other young people in Canada often take for granted. And it has stood in the way of First Nations communities healing from the terrible harms inflicted through the residential schools programme and other colonialist policies.

    Now, we may be on the verge of an historic breakthrough.

    Next Tuesday, January 26, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is scheduled to deliver its long-awaited decision on whether or not the federal government’s underfunding of child protections services and other family supports is a form of racial discrimination.

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