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    July 10, 2015
    A sobering look at Canada's human rights record

    By Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada 

    “This is not the Canada I once knew.” 

    Those were the words of a British member of the UN Human Rights Committee who was taking part this week in the committee’s first review of Canada’s human rights record in 10 years.

    Sir Nigel Rodley, a law professor and chair of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex, was referring to the deteriorating space for human rights advocacy, protest and dissent in Canada. He noted it was almost unbelievable that the UN committee felt compelled to raise these sorts of concerns with Canada. Sir Nigel highlighted research by the Voices coalition, which pointed to astonishing levels of fear and intimidation felt by Canadian activists and civil society groups, and referred to the disquiet expressed by the UN’s leading expert on the freedoms of assembly and association. He dismissed the Canadian government’s initial response to questions about the crackdown as “thin.”

    June 30, 2015
    Happy Canada Day! We mark today by celebrating amazing Canadians, from coast to coast, who are incredible human rights activists. Canadians across Canada organize events from flash mobs to book clubs, educate their communities on human rights issues, send solidarity to victims of human rights violations, and tirelessly take action to protect human rights across the world! Thank you! Your voice, your action, your determination can change the world.   Activists enjoy music at the Amnesty Halifax office Activists silent disco in the streets of Montreal for the Dance for Rights event. 
    June 26, 2015

    By George Harvey, Amnesty International Canada, LGBTI Coordinator

    A landmark ruling from the Supreme Court in the United States calling for marriage equality in all 50 states! A successful referendum on marriage equality in Ireland! Discriminatory laws challenged and repealed in a number of countries, and peaceful Pride marches in cities where they've been met with violence and counter marches in the past. We have much to celebrate during Pride this summer.

    Pride season is in full swing. As I type this blog I am gearing up to coordinate Amnesty's contingent in Toronto Pride this Sunday. Amnesty marches in Pride parades throughout Canada and around the world. We promote our actions at festivals and info-fairs, and we honour the lives lost to homophobia and transphobia at human rights vigils. Some of us are Amnesty activists who are members of the LGBTI community; many are allies marching in solidarity with the LGBTI community. All of us stand firmly against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and all of us stand firmly for the right to loudly, proudly, and publicly be who we are.

    June 19, 2015

    With the release of a new report today, the RCMP confirmed that it is no longer attempting to track murders of First Nations, Inuit and Métis women across all jurisdictions in Canada.

    National data missing





     

    In May 2014, the RCMP released a national survey of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Although there were critical gaps in the data, that report marked the first national report of its kind, and included data from the RCMP and other police services across the country.

    June 18, 2015

    “When we shared our land and water we expected it to be kept pristine, but they have failed and destroyed our culture as a result. We want that mercury cleaned up. There is no way around it because it is a sacred trust to take care of our land.” - Chief Roger Fobister Sr., Grassy Narrows First Nation

    “I believe some babies in our community continue to be born sick because of the mercury poison that is still in the river. These children did not choose this legacy of poisoning they have inherited.” - Judy DaSilva, Grassy Narrows environmental health coordinator and a mother of five.

           

    Hear Judy DaSilva Talk about the issues on CBC

    June 17, 2015

    For a good part of the past year I received almost weekly phone calls from Abdi.   He told me he was stateless and had spent most of his childhood in a refugee camp.  He and his family arrived in Canada with as Convention Refugees.  Twenty two years later he found himself in a maximum-security Provincial jail on an immigration hold, while the Canadian government tried to find a way to remove him to his country of birth. His birth however had never been registered, and his birth country did not recognize him as a citizen.
      

    June 08, 2015

    Last week, a summary report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission described Canada’s Residential Schools as “part of a coherent policy to eliminate Aboriginal people as distinct peoples and to assimilate them into the Canadian mainstream against their will.”

    The statement affirms something that is now well-established –and which was, in fact, acknowledged in Canada’s official apology to residential school survivors.

    Quite simply, the residential school policy had at its heart an insidious agenda to eradicate First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples as distinct cultures, societies and nation. And the tragic effects of the harm that was done --  including the terrible deprivations and abuses inflicted on so many of the girls and boys who were torn from their families and communities to attend these schools, as well as the loss of language, community cohesion and cultural knowledge and skills -- continue to be felt today.

    May 25, 2015

    On Thursday May 21, Luis Alberto Mata became a permanent resident in Canada. 

    A month earlier, with support from Amnesty International, Luis launched a campaign, No Lives in Limbo calling on the Minister of Public Safety and Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to grant him permanent status. Luis was recognized as a Convention Refugee in Canada in 2003, and then waited 12 years for a decision on his application for permanent residence.  Amnesty International supported Luis and his family over those 12 years.

    Following is part of a message from Luis to those who supported him.

    THE BEST SPRING OF THE LAST 12 YEARS!

    “As I begin this reflection, it comes to my mind a profound and beautiful adage from Aristotle:  "Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them".

    May 08, 2015

    By Tara Scurr, Amnesty International Canada Business and Human Rights Campaigner

    “We have faith that Amnesty International’s campaigning will inform investors in Tahoe Resources about our suffering in Guatemala.” Resident of San Rafael Las Flores

    When Alex Neve and I visited San Rafael Las Flores, Santa Rosa province, the site of Tahoe’s Escobal mine, in September 2014, it was to present the findings of our report, Mining in Guatemala: Rights at Risk and seek feedback from local grassroots activists. We hoped that community members, activists, legal experts, investors and governments would find it useful in untangling some of the problems with Guatemala’s mining regulatory framework and outline how the government and companies are failing human rights. It was clear from our research that current mining regulations and corporate practices are stoking conflict in Guatemala, leading to serious human rights violations, and that change is desperately needed. 

    May 08, 2015

    By Gloria Nafziger
    Refugee, Migrants and Country Campaigner, Amnesty International

    I first met Luis and his family shortly after they arrived in Canada sometime in 1993.  He was a writer and human rights activist from Colombia.  Both he and his wife Diana had been targeted in Colombia because of their work in support of human rights.  Shortly after they arrived in Canada they made a refugee claim. We couldn't talk much, because his English was poor and my Spanish was even worse; but from the beginning I considered him to be a compañero. My first vivid memory of Luis is a day in December 2003 when Luis, Diana and their friends from the Mennonite church came to our office to share the good news that just an hour or so earlier their refugee claim had been accepted on the spot at their refugee hearing.  There were many hugs and much happiness.  Luis and Diana began to plan to begin their new lives in Canada and quickly made their application to become permanent residents.

    May 07, 2015

    In almost two weeks of travel in the Peace River region and up to Fort Nelson, British Columbia, we've had the privilege of spending time with many inspiring activists and leaders. And we've been moved, and often angered by stories of abuse and indifference that have been shared with us by families of missing and murdered women and by women and girls who have experienced horrific violence in their own lives.

    But one of the richest experiences of this visit was the opportunity earlier this week to travel with elders from the Doig River First Nation to K'iht saa?dze, the area they're trying to protect for future generations as a tribal park.

    May 04, 2015

    By Alex Neve, Amnesty International Canada's Secretary General. Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeve Amnesty

    Amnesty International has reviewed the Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel  regarding Public Diplomacy Cooperation ( MOU) which was concluded between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries on 18 January, 2015.

    May 03, 2015

    A significant gulf in average wages between women and men. A severe shortage of affordable housing and quality childcare. An economic development model that depends on fly-in workers, labour camps and long shifts away from home that strain family life. Serious problems of drug dependency and alcohol abuse affecting all communities. And persistent gaps in basic services and supports for families, especially single parents.

    One of the fastest growing economies in Canada has drawn young workers and families from across the country to live and work in Fort St. John, BC. It has also created perfect storm conditions both to fuel violence and to deny adequate protection to those at risk.

    Add to this the unresolved legacy of past violations of Indigenous peoples' rights and continued discrimination facing First Nations and Metis persons, and it's not surprising that that we have heard so many moving and indeed shocking stories of sexual assaults and other violent attacks, murders and disappearance of Indigenous women and girls.

    April 30, 2015

    By Alex Neve, Amnesty International Canada's Secretary General. Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeve Amnesty

    The rushed passage through Parliament of Bill C-51, the furthest-reaching national security reforms in Canada since 2001, continues.  It is soon to be passed by the House of Commons and then head off to the Senate.  And all signs are that the government intends to push it through the Senate as quickly as possible, with an eye to the Bill becoming law before the summer Parliamentary break.

    April 24, 2015

    UPDATE May 7, 2015: After a temporary stay while an Alberta court ruled on the government's unsuccessful attempt to seek an injunction, Omar Khadr was released today on strict bail conditions including electronic monitoring and a curfew. Omar Khadr spent over 12 years in prison following his capture by US forces in 2002, mostly in the notorious Guantanamo Bay facility. He was transferred to Canada in 2012. You can send a message to Omar here.

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada. Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeveAmnesty

    It is easy to lose sight of the number of Canadian judges that have, over the past decade, ruled in favour of Omar Khadr.  It has truly become staggering and includes justices of the Supreme Court of Canada (not once, but twice), the Federal Court of Appeal and Federal Court numerous times, and the Alberta Court of Appeal. 

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