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    December 12, 2016

    The federal government has come halfway in improving the country’s human rights record.  A year-end Report Card assessment by Amnesty International finds notable progress on half of the human rights recommendations included in the organization’s December 2015 Human Rights Agenda for Canada.  The government has, however, stumbled or failed when it comes to the other half. Protection of Indigenous rights are among the areas where the Trudeau government has faltered most notably, giving rise to increasing levels of concern.

    December 09, 2016

    Press Conference: Amnesty International issues 2016 Human Rights “Report Card” for Trudeau government

    On December 13, Amnesty International Canada will issue a human rights “report card” for the Trudeau government’s first full calendar year in power at a press conference in Ottawa.

    The end-of-year assessment measures Canada’s progress against the organization’s Human Rights Agenda for Canada, which Amnesty presented to the government in December 2015 in order to help guide its efforts toward the protection of human rights domestically and abroad.

    In its assessment, Amnesty outlines several areas where Canada has achieved significant human rights successes in 2016. It also addresses several areas of notable concern where the Trudeau government has failed to make adequate progress on human rights, or has made decisions which have taken Canada in the wrong direction with troubling human rights implications.  

    Speaking at the press conference will be:

    December 08, 2016

    For the first time, Amnesty International’s flagship global human rights campaign is taking aim at a human rights case in Canada. On December 10th, activists around the world will call for a stop to the Site C hydroelectric dam in northeastern British Columbia – one in ten cases around the world featured for concerted action in this year’s annual Write for Rights campaign.

    “The fact that a human rights case in Canada has been selected for this campaign alongside top-priority cases in countries including Egypt, Iran, the United States and China is significant,” says Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “It speaks to the seriousness of the human rights concerns related to construction of the Site C dam and also to the level of international scrutiny which the Trudeau government will bear if it fails to change course on this issue.”

    December 01, 2016

    Every woman and girl has the right to live in safety without threat of violence, intimidation or harassment.

    Canadian government statistics show that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women and girls face much higher rates of violence than all other women and girls in Canada. Large gaps in government support for services to First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities deny Indigenous women and girls supports they need to escape and recover from this violence.

    There are roughly 15 shelters and transition houses serving 53 Inuit communities across the Arctic. Some of these shelters are extremely small and most communities are accessible only by air.

    The federal department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs reports that it provides funding for only 41 shelters to serve the 634 recognized First Nations communities in Canada. They do not provide funding to shelters in Inuit communities.

    December 01, 2016

    A case before the Supreme Court today provides a crucial opportunity to bring Canadian law into line with international human rights standards and global precedents protecting the sacred sites of Indigenous peoples.

    “The Charter protection of religious freedom is a vital part of the framework of human rights protection in Canada,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “However that Charter guarantee would be hollow if Canadian law fails to provide adequate protection for the sacred sites necessary to the practice of First Nations, Metis and Inuit religions and spiritual beliefs.”

    The Ktunaxa people, a First Nation in the BC interior, are fighting the planned development of a ski resort that the Ktunaxa says will degrade and deny them access to an area they consider to be of vital importance because they believe it is the home of the Great Bear spirit.

    November 28, 2016
    Jerry holding a sign saying 'Save the Arctic, It's my home'

    It’s been almost 20 years since the Supreme Court of Canada first ruled that the Constitutional protection of Indigenous rights requires governments to consult in “good faith” with Indigenous peoples so that their concerns can be “substantially” addressed before decisions are made that could affect their rights.

    While the federal, provincial and territorial governments now all accept that there is a duty to consult, their interpretation of this duty is often so narrow and impoverished that serious concerns over the impact of planned development are simply ignored. Rather than being a source of reconciliation and rights protection as intended in decisions like Delgamuukw (1997) and Haida Nation (2004), the duty to consult as applied by governments in Canada has been a source of ongoing conflict with projects like Northern Gateway and the Site C dam all ending up in court at tremendous cost to Indigenous peoples.

    November 24, 2016

    By Jackie Hansen, Women’s Rights Campaigner

    Annually since 1991, women’s rights activists from around the world have joined together to take action as part of the 16 Days of Activism to end Gender-based Violence campaign. Women and girls continue to experience violence directed at them because of their gender. Indigenous women and girls experience higher rates of violence than any other group of women and girls in Canada. The federal government has launched a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This is a laudable effort and one that Indigenous womens’ organizations, Amnesty International and many others long called for, but action to end violence against Indigenous women and girls must not be delayed until the Inquiry finishes its work two years from now.

    November 23, 2016

    Join Amnesty International supporters around the world on International Human Rights Day for our global campaign Write for Rights, and protect Indigenous rights in the Peace River valley!

    The proposed $8 billion plus Site C hydroelectric dam would flood more than 80 km of the river valley, stretching west from Fort St. John. The severe impact on Indigenous peoples is beyond dispute. A joint federal-province environmental impact assessment concluded that the dam would “severely undermine” use of the land, would make fishing unsafe for at least a generation, and would submerge burial grounds and other crucial cultural and historical sites.

    Here are some ways you can stand with Indigenous peoples of the Peace River valley against the Site C dam:

     

    1. Send a solidarity message or photograph

    Rising Waters photo action:

    November 21, 2016

    New information released last week concerning police investigations into allegations of sexual violence and other abuses of Indigenous women and men in northern Quebec highlights the urgent need to ensure better police accountability, particularly for individuals and communities who have experienced a history of severe human rights violations in Canada.

    “Indigenous women and girls are rightly questioning whether they can trust police and government to take allegations of sexual assault and other abuses seriously,” said Beatrice Vaugrante, Directrice générale of the Francophone Branch of Amnesty International Canada. “We know that a swift and thorough investigation is the most likely way to meet the burden of proof in the prosecution of sexual assaults. Unfortunately, mistrust of authorities, fear of repercussions and gender discrimination means that assaults either generally go unreported, especially if the alleged perpetrators are police, or go reported but with obstacles to accessing justice. These concerns are magnified for Indigenous women and girls who have experienced so much racism and discrimination in Canadian society.”

    November 18, 2016

    November 18, 2016 – The Trans Equality Canada coalition applauds the government and all parties in the House of Commons for quickly passing Bill C-16, an important step towards enshrining the equal rights of transgender individuals in Canadian law and providing protection from hate crimes. We especially commend MP Randall Garrison and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould for their leadership in this initiative.

    As we approach the International Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, this legislation is an important step towards upholding the human rights of individuals who are vulnerable to significantly heightened levels of discrimination and violence.

    Bill C-16 will add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. It will also add gender identity and gender expression to hate crimes sentencing provisions in the Canadian Criminal Code, providing transgender individuals with stronger protection from being deliberately targeted for acts of violence.

    November 03, 2016

    Decades of unchecked resource development and government policy failures have strained the social fabric of communities in northeast British Columbia (BC), Canada, and have put the lives and safety of Indigenous women and girls at great risk, Amnesty International said in a new report.

    The report, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, demonstrates how resource development in northeast BC has eroded the land base that provides the foundation for First Nations and Métis health and wellness in the region, while influxes of transient workers have driven up local prices for essentials such as housing. Increased rates of violent crime and diminished access to social services have placed Indigenous women and girls at increased risk of harm, while denying them the protections and support they need. Northeast BC has one of the highest violent crime rates in Canada.

    November 01, 2016

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
    MEDIA ADVISORY

    CANADA: Rampant resource development in northeast BC puts Indigenous women and girls at HEIGHTENED risk of VIOLENCE

    Vancouver – On November 3, Amnesty International will launch a new report at a press conference in Vancouver documenting how unchecked resource development and government policy failures have put Indigenous women and girls at increased risk of violence and human rights violations in northeast British Colombia, Canada.

    The report, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, demonstrates how resource development has eroded the land base that provides the foundation for First Nations and Métis health and wellness in the region, while influxes of transient workers have driven up local prices and strained the social fabric. Increased rates of violent crime and diminished access to social services have placed Indigenous women and girls at increased risk of harm, while denying them the protections and support they need.

    October 28, 2016

    Christy Jordan-Fenton is a grassroots activist, educator, and author who lives with her family on a farm outside of Fort St. John, a small community in northeast British Columbia. Being raised in part by a Cree stepfather who attended residential school, and later residing with her residential school survivor mother-in-law, as well as being dedicated to Indigenous ceremonial practices, fueled Christy’s activism in support of the rights of Indigenous peoples. It also inspired her to write four children’s books about her mother-in-law’s experience at residential school. Christy uses her books as tools to educate young people about the residential school system and its legacies. Christy is also part of the grassroots effort to respect Indigenous rights by halting construction of the Site C hydroelectric dam. Amnesty International caught up with Christy in Fort St. John.

    October 26, 2016

    In an extraordinary victory for Indigenous rights and environmental protection, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador has agreed to measures to reduce immediate risks to Inuit health and culture from the Muskrat Falls dam.

    Following almost two weeks of protests, including a hunger strike, occupations of the dam site and a journey to Ottawa, the government met yesterday with Inuit and Innu leaders. The result was an agreement to:

    October 25, 2016

    Joint Statement by Canadian Civil Society Organizations

    Today Canada’s record of women’s equality is under the spotlight at the United Nations in Geneva. The 65th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women happens at an opportune moment for Canadian women. Canada has a new federal government with a Prime Minister who says he is a feminist, calls for a nation-to-nation relationship, and acknowledges that “poverty is sexist”.  We know words matter, but now we need action.

    Decades of regressive legislative changes and budget cuts have substantially eroded women’s rights under the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW) in Canada. Since 1995, Canada has fallen from 1st to 25th place on the UN Gender Equality Index.

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