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Canada

    September 19, 2017

    September 19, 2017 — Today, 40 organizations and individuals from across Canadian civil society issued a joint letter to government that lays out overarching concerns with Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters. Bill C-59 makes some meaningful and necessary improvements to Canada’s national security regime, but it fails to reverse the legacy of its unpopular predecessor, Bill C-51, and introduces serious new problems. It specifically falls short in mitigating the discriminatory impact national security activities continue to have on vulnerable minorities, which has in the past included conduct that contributed to the torture of Canadians. 

    The signatories all share the concern that — despite the message clearly delivered by Canadians during the federal government’s extensive public consultation on national security — the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Charter are still not where they belong, at the core of Canada’s national security framework.

    September 19, 2017
    Kenzu Abdella outside the restaurant he helped set up in Peterborough, ON

    One thing a refugee in your community will need is a way to earn a living. They may have been a well respected and highly skilled professional in their country, but they also may find that none of their experience or skills are recognised now.

    Some decide to try something completely new, using skills they gained before.

    Mohammed Alftih was a businessman with decades of experience behind him in Syria, printing T-shirts that were exported, mostly to Europe. When he fled Syria with his family, and finally was resettled in Peterborough, Canada, he didn’t know where to start. But his wife, Randa, was becoming famed locally for the delicious food she cooked for family and friends. So, together with a friend Mohammed made at the mosque, Kenzu Abdellah, they decided to set up a business of their own, with the Oasis Mediterranean Grill, known as OMG.

    September 18, 2017

    There are lots of people – politicians, celebrities, thought leaders - around the world who care deeply and passionately about refugees.

    You can learn from them and you can help highlight what they say and do on social media.

    Find those key, influential people and follow them – share what they post, tell them about what you’re doing as they may share this with their own networks, and you might be surprised at how much you get out of this.

    Take Councillor Joe Mihevc, for example. He is City Councillor in Toronto and is also the refugee advocate for the city of Toronto. Himself the son of refugees, he feels it was “part of his DNA” and he is passionate about welcoming refugees to Toronto and making sure they settle well.

    You can find out more about Joe here:

    There are many people like him, perhaps even some in your local area, so find them and follow what they do and say to help spread their influence even further.

    September 17, 2017

    Today, we want you to hear and share stories of refugees.

    Whether you go along to a refugee group in your community and hear stories told there, or just read the many stories about refugees on UNHCR’s website, listen to people’s stories as this is the best way to understand the issues facing refugees.

    The more you listen, the more you ask questions, the better you will understand refugees and see that these are just people in a really difficult situation.

    And you might be surprised about how much you get from this experience.

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    September 16, 2017
    	Nour Ammana prepares Oúzi, a Syrian street pastry, in her shop Beroea Box in Market 707 in Toronto.

    What are you interests or passions? Do you love eating out, or going to the theatre, for example? Or do you feel like trying something you’ve never done before?

    There may be refugees groups in your community who organize activities which you would enjoy. By taking part in these events, you can learn about another culture through food or art or music. This, as Amir and Noor explained, helps keep these cultures alive.

    September 15, 2017

    You’ve shown until now how much you care, so could you befriend a refugee and help them settle into your local community?

    You may have to do a bit of research to find a local group that can facilitate this, but a good first place to check is with the organizations that provide services to refugees in your Community

    Refugees that have the support of local people tend to settle in much better, so you would be making a huge difference to their lives.

    It could be just a question of meeting someone for a coffee every now and then, to help them work out any issues they may have, or you could be a lot more hands-on and help a recently arrived refugee family navigate the welfare system in your country or register in school or learn to speak English. 

    September 14, 2017
    Toronto Councillor Joe Mihevc with the Syrian Family he sponsored

    It can feel overwhelming trying to work out how to help in something as massive as the global refugee crisis.

    Well, never forget that as well as being a global refugee crisis, it’s also a local one, as so many communities now have refugees living within them.

    So, remember – you are not alone and you don’t have to act on your own - there’s an incredible network of people across villages, towns, countries, globally, who are already really involved, it’s just a question of finding other like-minded people.

    And that’s really easy to do - look for groups in your local community who are supporting refugees. 

    So today, look into what support groups and activities there are in your community or country. And if you don’t find what you need, contact us to brainstorm for ideas about how you can get involved in your community. 

    You can make a massive difference. Thanks again for your support.

     

    September 14, 2017

    Yesterday we talked about finding or creating a safe space online or in your local community where you can meet likeminded people who also care about refugees.

    Well, today we’re asking you to look into actual, real-life safe spaces you might find in your area. You might be able to find landlords locally that are willing to give a room or a whole property to refugees, or perhaps you have a space you can offer in your own home?

    You could offer a place for refugees to stay in the short-term, or find people that are willing to do so.

    Contact refugee service organizations in your community to find out how you can help them meet the needs of refugees in your community

    September 13, 2017

    "The tragic and brutal story of what happened to us, especially at the hands of governments is well-known.... But today, with the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the United Nations General Assembly, we see the opportunity for a new beginning, for another kind of relationship with States in North America and indeed throughout the world." - Statement to the United Nations made 10 years ago by Indigenous representatives from North America when the UN Declaration was adopted. 

     

    The adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was a landmark moment in the advancement of global human rights protections.

    For decades, Indigenous peoples had been working within the United Nations and regional human rights bodies such as the Inter-American Commission in an effort to ensure that existing, universal human rights standards were understood and applied in ways that would make a real difference in addressing the many profound abuses faced by Indigenous peoples around the world.

    September 13, 2017

    The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a crucial framework to achieve reconciliation. Such a human rights-based approach is essential to address the racism and discrimination that has caused such profound harm to Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world.  Violations include uprooting Indigenous peoples from their territories and resources, failure to honour Treaties, tearing Indigenous children from their families, and making Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people the targets of unimaginable violence.

    The adoption of the UN Declaration ten years ago today – on September 13, 2007 – was a crucial victory in the evolution of international human rights law. This historic achievement was possible because Indigenous peoples persisted for more than two decades in advancing a strong and powerful vision of self-determination, decolonization and non-discrimination.

    September 12, 2017

    "Let them drink the water we have to drink" - Loydi Macedo, Indigenous community of Cuninico, Peru

    Today, as we mark the 10th anniversary of the global adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Amnesty International is releasing a devastating new report documenting the callous failure of government authorities in Peru to address the urgent health needs of Indigenous peoples in that country who live in the midst of intensive mining and oil and gas development.

    The human rights concerns set out in this report – the refusal to listen to Indigenous women’s concerns about the safety of the water on which they depend, the reluctance to investigate and hold companies responsible for the contamination of Indigenous lands and waters, and the failure to provide culturally-appropriate health care to those in greatest need – are all too familiar.

    September 09, 2017

    It’s been a week since we started the 30 days, and I hope you’re seeing the difference already. Hopefully, you understand the issues a bit more and now understand more the change that one person, like you, can make.

    Sometimes change takes time, and sometimes it feels like it happens before your eyes.

    Watch this video and see what happened when people met refugees face-to-face for the first time.

    You can share it with anyone you think might be interested too.

    September 08, 2017

    We told you yesterday about the story of Baraa , who we were able to help thanks to the support of people like you. We can’t thank you enough for all that you’re doing to help refugees.

    Today, we’re asking you to speak out about the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in detention centres in Canada.

    Did you know that over the last 10 years over 800 children have been held in immigration detention in Canada? Children are placed in detention with or without their families for several weeks, and sometimes for up to a year. In February 2016 a 16 year old Syrian refugee boy was help in solitary confinement in immigration detention for 3 weeks.

    September 06, 2017

    Amnesty International welcomes the initiative of the Canadian government, and non-governmental partners Rainbow Railroad and Russian LGBT Network, which has brought dozens of gay men from the semi-autonomous Russian republic of Chechnya to Canada as government-assisted refugees. This unique government and civil society partnership comes in response to a coordinated campaign against men in Chechnya who are believed to be gay.

    In early April, the Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that over a hundred of men believed to be gay had been recently abducted, sent to undisclosed detention centres, tortured and otherwise ill-treated, and forced to disclose other LGBTI individuals known to them. Chechen officials have also supported ``honour killings`` of gay men by their families. Amnesty International documented the practice of extrajudicial executions of gay men in Chechnya and elsewhere in the region earlier this year.

    September 06, 2017

    You care about refugees – that’s clear from the fact that you’re reading this now.

    And because of that, we thought you might be interested in signing up for a free online course about the rights of refugees.

    This course will help you to understand, defend and promote the rights of refugees. You will also develop new skills and knowledge from experts and learn how to hold governments to account.

    You can do the course at your own pace, and you can also connect with other participants from across the world.  

    We really hope you enjoy it.

    And knowledge is power, so by doing this and sharing the course with others who might be interested, you will be helping to change people’s attitudes to refugees.

    Take the free online refugee rights course

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