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    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.

    January 14, 2016

    The BC government must now make its own decision about a proposed pipeline project that it has publicly claimed to oppose.

    In a significant victory for Indigenous rights, the BC Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the provincial government "abdicated" its Constitutional obligations by giving up provincial authority to impose conditions on the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. Without such authority the province could not meaningfully accommodate the rights of affected First Nations, even on issues that the BC itself had conceded were serious concerns.

    The court ruled that BC must now consult with First Nations about the potential impacts of Northern Gateway “on areas of provincial jurisdiction”  and “how those impacts are to be addressed in a manner consistent with the honour of the Crown and reconciliation.”

    The decision does not affect the project approval granted by the federal government – which is the subject of a separate as yet unresolved legal challenge.

    January 07, 2016

    The province of British Columbia is pushing ahead with construction of a hydro-electric megaproject in the Peace River Valley despite unresolved legal challenges from First Nations. A camp set up by community members at an historic site in the path of BC Hydro's efforts to clear the planned reservoir has led to a temporary halt in logging. But the community members now face the risk of arrest for their actions.

    The rapidly evolving situation highlights the urgent need for the federal government to honour its Treaty commitments by suspending all federal licenses and permits for the project so that the underlying issues of Constitutionally-protected rights and due process can be addressed.

    The following is a press released issued by the community members.

     

    First Nations Prepare for Arrest to Stop Site C Dam
    Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land call on Trudeau to stop megadam in B.C.'s Peace Valley

    January 04, 2016
    Photo: Once consultations are complete, the inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls should get underway. Meanwhile widely supported recommendations to help address this crisis can be implemented, such as increased funding for women’s shelters on reserves and better police data on the Indigenous identity of murdered and missing women.

     

    by Alex Neve and Béatrice Vaugrante

    After a dark decade for human rights in Canada, Justin Trudeau has an opportunity to restore our standing. Here's how he can do it.

    There have been encouraging signs of a sorely needed new approach to human rights from Justin Trudeau’s government in the last few weeks of 2015. The crucial question now is whether that change will become sustained and meaningful in 2016.

    Over the past decade Canada’s global standing and domestic record on the human rights front has taken a big hit. Over those years, our reputation deteriorated, long-standing concerns went unaddressed and setbacks piled up. The pent-up expectation but also the very real opportunity for change is considerable.

    December 14, 2015

    By Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.

    Every day, federal and provincial governments make decisions about resource development projects. Some are relatively benign decisions, with few or no impacts on First Nations rights. Others carry the potential for massive and irreversible impacts on the rights of First Nations.

    British Columbia’s planned Site C hydroelectric dam falls into the latter category. It will have devastating impacts on the rights and territories of Treaty 8 First Nations in B.C. Approval for Site C means approval for flooding the last pristine stretch of the Peace River valley west of Fort St. John, turning it into a massive reservoir.

    December 08, 2015

    Read the FAQ on Public Inquiries

     

    Today the government of Canada launched the design process for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada. Amnesty International welcomes this announcement, which has been long called for by Indigenous women and girls, the families of women who have gone missing and been murdered, National Aboriginal Organizations, and human rights groups like Amnesty International. We are mindful of all the families we have worked with for so many years as part of our No More Stolen Sisters campaign--they are in our thoughts today and every day. 

    In the lead up to this announcement, many questions. What exactly is a National Inquiry? What can it accomplish? How will the voices of Indigenous women and girls and family members be heard? 

    November 25, 2015

    A new report released today by Statistics Canada shows that Indigenous people are six times more likely than other people in Canada to be murdered.

    Amnesty International has long called for systematic, publicly available data on the Aboriginal identity of both the victims and perpetrators of violence. Such data can be crucial to better understand and eliminate violence.

    When the first national statistics on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls were released in 2014 by the RCMP ("Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: An National Operational Overview")  the data was widely misrepresented and oversimplified in public debate. The numbers show a complex and pervasive pattern of violence against Indigenous women and girls. Amnesty International is still reviewing the data in the latest report, but we feel it is important to emphasize the following:

    November 24, 2015

    Respect for Indigenous peoples' right of free, prior and informed (FPIC) must be a matter of urgent priority for any government committed to a respectful relationship with Indigenous peoples.

    This is part of a message to the the new Prime Minister and his Cabinet from Indigenous peoples' organizations, human rights groups, environmentalists and others.

    In an open letter sent today, 16 organizations from across Canada called on the federal government to collaborate with Indigenous Peoples’ governments and organizations to ensure that:

    November 24, 2015

    BY CRAIG BENJAMIN AND JACKIE HANSEN

    Indigenous women and girls in Canada are roughly 7 times more likely to be targeted by serial predators. This is according to an article in the published this week in the Globe and Mail.

    November 10, 2015

    by Catherine Brunelle, Write for Rights Support Team

    Amnesty Canada campaigner Hilary Homes has seen many events during her work with Amnesty activists. As we approach Amnesty International’s biggest global activism day of the year, Write for Rights on International Human Rights Day, December 10, we’ve asked her to share some favourite organizing takeaways. Haven’t signed up yet? Join Write for Rights at writeathon.ca!
     

    1. Hold your event in a fun public space

    Partner with a coffee shop or library! Or hold it in a university campus common space,  an art gallery, or at the market. Think of spaces that naturally have a lot of people. It’s an easy way to boost your numbers!

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