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    August 03, 2016

    Press Conference Comments

    Alex Neve
    Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada (English Branch)

    It is almost twelve years since Amnesty International launched our Stolen Sisters report, documenting the role of long entrenched discrimination in putting shocking numbers of Indigenous women and girls in harm’s way.

    In raising our voice, we joined the Native Women’s Association of Canada; family members of murdered and missing First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls; women and girls who had survived violence; and countless frontline organizations and allies; all of whom had been struggling for years to draw attention to the violence and demand real action to bring it to an end.

    Above all else today we honour the steadfast determination of the families who have courageously bared their pain and sorrow to Canada and, in fact, the world in pressing for justice.

    July 29, 2016

    A permit issued this week by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans violates the rights of Indigenous peoples by allowing continued construction of a destructive and unjustified hydro-electric megaproject that does not have their free, prior and informed consent.

    “The federal government had the opportunity to do the right thing and at least insist that First Nations legal challenges be given a fair hearing before construction of the Site C dam continues,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “Instead, in taking this step the government has broken its promise to respect Canada’s Treaties with Indigenous peoples and uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

    July 20, 2016

    July 20, 2016—As organizations and human rights experts, we are deeply concerned by the draft Terms of Reference for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada, which have been posted on media websites today.

    The TOR provide the framework for the National Inquiry and establish the authority of its Commissioners. In our view, the draft TOR risks a weak National Inquiry that lacks clear authority to delve into some of the most crucial factors in this human rights crisis. Our organizations are particularly concerned that the draft TOR provides no explicit mandate to report on, or make recommendations regarding, policing and justice system failures and inadequacies.

    July 14, 2016

    July 1976 proved to be pivotal in justice systems on both sides of the Canada/US border. On the 14th of July, Canada took a significant step forward for human rights and justice by removing the death penalty from its Criminal Code.  Yet only twelve days earlier, the US Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was constitutional (after a period of moratorium). Since that time, the United States has executed 1,436 people. After abolition, Canada’s per capita rate for homicide has steadily declined, it is now at the lowest murder rate since 1966. In contrast, the United States has not had a steady drop in the homicide rate until quite recently and it remains well above that of Canada. Notably, the homicide rate remains higher in states that execute than those that do not. When Canada abolished the death penalty in law it joined a small number of countries, but today they represent more than half of the world’s countries. More than two thirds of the world’s countries no longer execute.

    July 12, 2016

    by Craig Benjamin, Indigneous Rights Campaigner
     

    Imagine this: 

    Hundreds of people - First Nations, Métis and non-Indigenous - out on canoes and kayaks to celebrate  the  beauty of the  Peace River and show their determination to protect the land from the massive destruction that would be caused by the Site C dam.

    This was the scene last weekend at the 11th annual Paddle for the Peace in northeast BC. The event brought together people from throughout the province, across the country, and indeed around the world. Our colleagues from KAIROS even brought an entire busload of paddlers from Vancouver Island and the lower mainland.

    360 panorama photo -- click and drag to view the full scene

    July 12, 2016

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

    "We were woken up from a deep sleep in the middle of the night. It sounded like a low-flying airplane or an earthquake – I couldn’t fathom what it was. We took the grandkids and ran for higher ground. We didn’t know what was happening. " — Resident of Likely, BC

    As morning dawned on August 4, 2014, it became clear that something terrible had happened near the tiny community of Likely, BC.  Residents awoke to the devastating news that the Mount Polley copper mine tailings pond had burst its banks, sending 25 million cubic litres of mine waste water and toxic slurry rushing down Hazeltine Creek. The onslaught of water and debris destroyed the creek and deposited masses of silt and sludge at the bottom of Quesnel Lake, metres deep in some areas. Residents, workers and surrounding communities were shaken to the core. 

    July 06, 2016

    By George Harvey, LGBTI Coordinator

    July 04, 2016

    Last week’s court decision on the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline provides a crucial opportunity for the federal government to fulfil its promise to uphold the human rights of Indigenous peoples.

    On June 30, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the 2014 Cabinet decision to allow construction of the massive oil sands pipeline. The court concluded that the decision-making process fell “well-short “ of long-established legal standards for the protection of Indigenous rights in Canada.

    The court has called on the federal government to undertake a new consultation process with First Nations to address critical issues of Indigenous concern, such as the project’s impact on Indigenous land title, resource rights, and governance. The court said that these matters had been given only “brief, hurried and inadequate” consideration before the project was approved.

    Given the serious concerns that Indigenous peoples have repeatedly raised about Northern Gateway, Amnesty International is renewing our call for the federal government to respect the right of First Nations to say no to this project.

    June 29, 2016
    Alex Neve, Perseo Quiroz, Margaret Huang

     

    By: Margaret Huang, Alex Neve, Perseo Quiroz and Béatrice Vaugrante

    Prime Minister Trudeau is about to host his US and Mexican counterparts, President Obama and President Peña Nieto, at the “Three Amigos” North American Leaders’ Summit.  It is the tenth such Summit since George Bush, Vicente Fox and Paul Martin first gathered in Texas in 2005. 

    Past Summits have been dominated by trade, given that the initial linkage among our three nations came through the North American Free Trade Agreement.  Security related matters, particularly with respect to border control and cross-border traffic, have also figured prominently; through the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

    But a partnership built around trade, investment and security, without corresponding attention to human rights, has left a lop-sided North American relationship. 

    June 27, 2016

    Human rights must be a top priority during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa, said Amnesty International in an Open Letter to United States President Barack Obama, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The letter was shared with the leaders in advance of the June 29th Summit, providing recommendations on the protection of human rights related to migrants and refugees, trade and investment, Indigenous peoples,  women and girls, national and public security, climate change, and human rights defenders. 

    June 24, 2016

    ---Media Advisory---

    June 24, 2016 - Ahead of the North American Leaders’ Summit, Amnesty International has called for the leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico to adopt a robust human rights agenda in an Open Letter outlining continental human rights recommendations.  At a press conference on June 27th, the heads of Amnesty International Canada, Mexico and United States will call for action on the concerns outlined in the Open Letter, including:

    Migrant and refugee rights, particularly the practice in all three countries of holding migrant and refugee children in detention facilities; and Violence and discrimination against Women and Girls, particularly Indigenous women and girls.  

    Other recommendations deal with the Inter-American human rights system, Trade and Investment, Indigenous peoples, national and public security, climate change and human rights defenders.

    Event:                   Press conference

    June 21, 2016

    By Craig Benjamin, Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    Think about this.

    A community devastated by the massive release of mercury into the rivers on which they depend.

    Credible scientific studies showing that a half century later the people are still suffering from the debilitating effects of mercury poisoning and that even their children are being harmed.

    Further studies that show that the mercury is not going away and that fish from the river will continue to be unsafe for years to come unless something is done.

    New allegations that an illegal toxic dump near the river could increase the mercury contamination ten-fold and leave the river unsafe for almost a century to come.

    This is the story of the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwest Ontario. It’s a situation that cries out for justice.

    Now consider how the federal and provincial governments have responded.

    June 21, 2016

    The government of Ontario has demonstrated shocking indifference to the lives and well-being of the people of the Grassy Narrows First Nation who are suffering the devastating consequences of mercury dumped into their river system a half century ago. A story published this week in the Toronto Star revealed that the ongoing threat to Grassy Narrows may be even worse than previously known, and the province’s failure even greater.

    In the 1960s, the Ontario government allowed a Dryden pulp mill to release approximately 9 metric tonnes of mercury into the English and Wabigoon river system. According to the story published in the Star this week, a former mill employee mill has now alleges that after the province finally stopped the mercury dumping in 1971, an additional 50 barrels of salt and liquid mercury were illegally buried in a plastic lined pit where it could be leaching into the river.

    June 20, 2016

    Half a million people call for government to end #MMIW

    Ottawa—Today on Parliament Hill, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Am I Next campaign, Amnesty International Canada, and the Canadian Federation of Students sent a powerful message to the government of Canada: half a million petition signatures supporting a strong and effective national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people.

    “For nearly 20 years the Native Women’s Association of Canada has been demanding answers and calling for accountability as our sisters continue to be stolen simply because they are Indigenous,” said Dawn Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. “Now is the time for change, so that my daughters can grow up in safety.”

    The petition signatures were delivered to Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and Patty Hajdu, Minister for the Status of Women.

    June 20, 2016

    Ottawa – Aujourd’hui, sur la Colline parlementaire, l’Association des femmes autochtones du Canada, la campagne « Suis-je la prochaine? », Amnistie Internationale Canada et la Fédération canadienne des étudiantes et étudiants ont livré un puissant message au gouvernement du Canada : un demi-million de personnes ont signé une pétition pour demander la tenue d’une enquête nationale exhaustive et efficace sur la disparition et l’assassinat de femmes et filles autochtones ainsi que de personnes bispirituelles.

     

    « Depuis près de 20 ans, l’Association des femmes autochtones du Canada exige des réponses et une reddition de comptes pendant que nos sœurs continuent d’être enlevées pour la simple raison qu’elles sont des Autochtones, a déclaré Dawn Harvard, présidente de l’Association des femmes autochtones du Canada. Le temps du changement est arrivé, afin que mes filles puissent grandir en sécurité. »

     

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