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    April 17, 2018

    In an Open Letter, Amnesty International Canada is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take “direct and personal” action to ensure justice is served for Canadian citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik, after the federal government abruptly refused to pursue mediated negotiations toward settlement of his case.

    Negotiations were set to begin last month to provide redress for Canada’s role in the grave human rights violations Abdelrazik endured in Sudan from 2003-2009, including torture, unlawful detention and forced exile, when Abdelrazik’s legal team was suddenly notified of the government’s withdrawal. Amnesty is calling on the Prime Minister to order that decision to be reversed so that long-overdue steps toward an apology and redress can and will go forward without further delay.

    April 13, 2018

    Amnesty International Canada is proud to announce that Ashley Hyshka has won its annual Youth Media Award. Her story “No More Stolen Sisters”, won the national award and was published on February 15, 2018 in "The Runner," a student-owned newspaper with Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) in Surrey, B.C. She is the third national youth media award winner and the first to be awarded from British Columbia.

    "Stolen Sisters examines the plight of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in B.C., and the institutional errors that may have contributed to some of their deaths. The author has personalized the piece in compelling fashion with interlinked profiles of a frustrated cop and Lorelei Williams, whose family has known only violence,” said Rick MacInnes-Rae, renowned former journalist and volunteer Amnesty Media Award judge. "The story is harrowing in addressing the frequent errors made by police when confronted with probable causes for actions they subsequently did not take. Had some of the leads been followed, it seems clear some of the tragic history might not have occurred."

    April 11, 2018

    Amnesty International Canada is calling on the BC government to avoid unjustified criminalization of individuals defying an injunction against protests in the proximity of two worksites on the proposed route of Kinder-Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

    According to media reports, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck has called on the BC Attorney General to take over prosecution of pipeline protesters.

    Individuals arrested for allegedly defying the current injunction currently face prosecution as a civil action. Justice Affleck, who issued the injunction against the protests, has reportedly called for criminal prosecution.

    “We share Justice Affleck’s concerns that an important public policy issue -- how to respond to individuals who deliberately violate the protest injunction – should not be determined solely by whether or not a private corporation pursues enforcement. However, unnecessary criminalization of protesters is quite simply not the answer,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.

    April 10, 2018

    This is part 5 of 6 of the blog series: 25 years working for human rights in the Niger Delta

    Written by Amnesty's Businses and Human Rights volunteer, Ian Heide

    Confronting Shell Oil … Again!

    Three years after the ground-breaking report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on oil pollution in Ogoniland, the people of Ogoniland continued to suffer the effects of fifty years of an oil industry that has polluted their land, air and water. The oil company Shell and the Nigerian Government both failed to implement recommendations made in the UNEP report and put an end to the abuse of the communities’ rights to food, water and a life free of pollution.

    The 2011 UNEP Report made 27 recommendations, including the establishment of a $1 billion fund for the clean-up and compensation. In August 2014, Amnesty issued a report titled “No Progress”, with Amnesty's assessment that NONE of the recommendations had been completed. The Government of Nigeria and Shell had taken almost no meaningful action to implement any of the recommendations.

    April 06, 2018
    Amnesty Media Award Winners 2018

    Amnesty International Canada was thrilled to host its 23rd annual Media Awards event on April 4, honouring eight Canadian journalists for their exceptional reporting on profoundly important human rights issues of our time. We are so grateful to Gillian Findlay, past Amnesty Media Award winner and co-host of the CBC’s premier investigative programme The Fifth Estate, for hosting the packed event in Toronto’s Gardiner Museum.

    This year’s event came at a critical moment for journalism, as reporters and news outlets in Canada and further afield find themselves increasingly under pressure in a world of “fake news,” changing media landscapes and outright attempts to harass, intimidate or suppress journalists in many countries. So we were especially honoured to take this important occasion to express our deep appreciation to these exceptional journalists who have gone to tremendous lengths to tell stories which matter so very, very much. These are some highlights from the remarkable evening.

    April 04, 2018

    This is part 4 of 6 of the blog series: 25 years working for human rights in the Niger Delta

    Written by Amnesty's Businses and Human Rights volunteer, Ian Heide

    United Nations Confirms Massive Pollution

    In 2011-2012, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) confirmed the massive scale of pollution in its landmark report based on a scientific assessment of one region, Ogoniland. The report particularly highlighted how pollution has created a public health emergency in the Niger Delta as a result of high levels of contamination of people’s sources of water.

    According to UNEP, oil seeped below the surface layers of soil and contaminated the groundwater in Ogoniland. The report also referred to increased concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbons in the air and drinking water, which could lead to long-term health issues.

    April 03, 2018

    We all want to be good, responsible people, don't we? But sometimes doing the right thing in our daily lives is made next-to-impossible by forces well beyond us. At these times, we need to work together, creatively, to do what's right. 

    Amnesty International's palm oil campaign gives you a chance to help fix a serious problem hidden in your breakfast cereal and possibly in the toothpaste you used this morning. Palm oil and palm oil ingredients are now in half of all consumer products, yet the harvesting of this product is leading to the exploitation of children, and human rights abuses of women and workers. 

    We have a plan to stop these abuses, and it starts with your signature.

    April 03, 2018
    Urgent Action workshop participants participate in an exercise to get to now one another and the structure of the network

    By Maitri Gupta, Urgent Action member in the GTA.

    The Urgent Action Network (UAN) personifies the famous saying the pen is mightier than the sword. It connects a global community of human rights defenders that have, over the years, used their words in letters to protect individuals from human rights violations. In Canada alone, the UA Network writes thousand of letters a year, and I am proud to have joined this community recently. As a Canadian, I have a voice that can be heard. Writing personal letters allows me to convey my message with more effort and therefore, sincerity. Writing to authorities is a powerful tool for accountability. Each time I write, the stories of the people that I am trying to help become more memorable. This is what truly motivated me to take that additional step outside of just signing petitions that I would often forget I had even seen. 

    March 23, 2018

    In an open letter to Cheryl Urban, Director General of the Latin America and Caribbean Bureau at Global Affairs Canada, Amnesty International Canada notified the Department it will no longer make submissions to the annual report on Human Rights and Free Trade between Canada and Colombia.

    The organization cited serious concerns with the Department’s methodology which fundamentally undermines the credibility of the process, including by failing to assess some of the most significant trade-related human rights concerns in Colombia. Instead, “the Government of Canada chooses to interpret its human rights reporting responsibilities in a limited and restrictive manner that ignores and overlooks pressing human rights concerns directly related to critical trade, investment and business policy and activities that are encouraged, promoted and furthered by the [Canada Colombia Free Trade Agreement],” the Open Letter reads.

    March 21, 2018

    “You look at the lake, it looks good, it looks clean, the fish look all right. How to believe that something like that could turn against you?” – former Grassy Narrows Chief Steve Fobister Sr. quoted in the Toronto Star

     

    Steve Fobister. Bill Fobister. Judy Da Silva. These are some of the leaders and activists from Grassy Narrows who have played a critical in shaping and informing Amnesty International’s longstanding campaign for justice for that First Nation.

    They are all, in every sense of the word, human rights champions.

    They also, all three, suffer from the devastating, debilitating impacts of mercury poisoning.

    And they are not alone.

    March 14, 2018

    This is part 1 of 6 of the blog series: 25 years working for human rights in the Niger Delta

    Written by Amnesty's Businses and Human Rights volunteer, Ian Heide

    On November 10, 1995, Amnesty International released this statement: “AI has learned with dismay that Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight other Ogoni supporters were executed on 10 November 1995.”

    The world was shocked. The trial was widely criticized by human rights organizations and the governments of other states The Commonwealth of Nations, which had pleaded for clemency, suspended Nigeria's membership. The United States, the United Kingdom, and the EU all implemented sanctions—but not on petroleum.

    What was the role of Shell oil in this? And how has the situation evolved since then? This six-part blog series explores the human rights impact of oil pollution in the Niger Delta, the mounting evidence against Shell, the courageous activism of affected communities,  and the on-going fight for justice.

    March 08, 2018

    Five Ottawa-area feminist leaders recognized for contributions toward gender equality

    Ottawa, March 6, 2018 – Ottawa-Gatineau’s largest International Women’s Day celebration is marking its 10th anniversary while honouring five Ottawa-area feminist leaders for their tireless work advancing women’s human rights and gender equality.

    This year’s International Women’s Day Ottawa event theme is Hashtags & Beyond, encouraged by #MeToo, #TimesUp and other growing movements of people breaking the silence about discrimination, harassment, and violence in Canada and internationally.

    For ten years, the Femmy Awards have honoured Ottawa-area feminists for their outstanding contributions to feminism under the categories of frontline service provision, thought leadership, arts and media, advocacy and youth. Recipients of the 2018 Femmy Awards are:

    March 07, 2018

    A feminist policy can guide all policymaking.

    Canada’s prime minister and government are openly feminist, and ‘feminist foreign policy’ is the new buzz phrase on Parliament Hill. Is a feminist foreign policy what Canada most needs?

    The answer is absolutely yes — one centred on addressing the historical and structural gender power imbalances at the root of gender inequality, and their intersection with race, ethnicity, and other identity factors. This implicitly involves alleviating symptoms of inequality such as violence, early and forced marriage, lack of access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, and barriers to participating in politics, peace processes, and the labour force.

    "Canada must be held to the same rigorous standards as other countries to address the root causes of persistent gender inequality here at home."

    March 07, 2018

    It’s March, and like many working parents, I’m making plans for the nine weeks when school is not in session this summer. Last year I naively thought that my child and I could have a chat, I’d book camps, and everything would be set. Oh, how I learned! I am more prepared this year and am in the midst of immense internet research and an intense series of complex negotiations involving myself, my child’s other parent, my child, my employer, organizations I work with (lest I book my vacation during a peak time on the human rights calendar), my family and close friends who live across the country, the parents of my child’s closest friends, my own playmates whom I want to go on camping adventures with, my bank account, and the weather forecaster.

    March 06, 2018

    Amnesty International Canada is launching a new initiative to counter online underrepresentation of women, transgender and non-binary human rights defenders in Canada through a “Feminist Wikipedia Takeover,” launching in Ottawa on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2018.  The campaign aims to address gender bias in the open source encyclopaedia by crowdsourcing the creation of new biographies highlighting the work of women, transgender and non-binary people in Canada who peacefully advocate in support of human rights.

    “Gender bias online is well documented and too often renders invisible the enormous contributions of feminist activists in the online space, contributing to the marginalization of their work and presenting a gender-skewed and disempowering view of our world,” said Jacqueline Hansen, gender rights campaigner for Amnesty International Canada. “This International Women’s Day, we are launching a campaign for online equality by honouring the bravery and commitment of our sisters, transgender and non-binary activists who struggle for justice every day, often with little public awareness of their contributions and struggles.”

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