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Canada

    February 19, 2014

    Dear Senators,

    The following organizations, representing a broad cross section of civil society groups from across Canada, urge the Senate to pass Bill C-279, the Gender Identity Bill, as drafted and without delay, to ensure that the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Criminal Code protect the human rights of all people in Canada.

    We recognize the violence and discrimination faced by the trans/transsexual/transgender/ intersex/two-spirit/gender variant (“trans”) community in Canada. In a recent nationwide survey, 74% of transgender youth reported experiencing verbal harassment in school, and 37% reported experiencing physical violence. Transgender individuals in Ontario face unemployment over three times the national rate and many more are underemployed. As a result of discrimination and bullying, the trans community faces high rates of mental health issues. Rates of depression are as high as two-thirds; 77% of transgender individuals in Ontario report having considered suicide, and 43% have attempted suicide at least once.

    February 14, 2014

    Emmanuel Jal is touring Calgary with his We Want Peace Educational Tour: Calgary in partnership with Amnesty International from Feb 19th to Feb 25th, 2014 (see schedule below).  His personal message of peace resonates particularly with young people to overcome adversity and become active global citizens.

    Born in the war-torn region of Southern Sudan, Emmanuel Jal grew up as a child soldier.  Through unbelievable struggles, Emmanuel managed to survive and emerge as a recording artist, achieving worldwide acclaim for his unique style of hip hop with its message of peace and reconciliation born out of his personal experiences.   ”Amnesty International is extremely pleased to partner with Emmanuel Jal to raise awareness of human rights and to encourage youth to take action, to protect and promote human rights in their school, their community, and around the world,"  said Shauna Maclean, youth program coordinator at Amnesty International. The organization already has a vibrant national youth program with tens of thousands of young activists in schools and communities across the country.

    January 31, 2014
    Amnesty members in Regina taking part in the annual Have a Heart Day campaign.

    Every child has the right grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy, and be proud of who they are.

    It’s hard to imagine anyone disagreeing.

    Yet year after year, First Nations children are denied these basic rights.

    For most children in Canada, health care, education and family services are funding through the provincial or territorial governments. But for First Nations children on reserves, these same services are funded by the federal government.

    Numerous studies - including reports by the Auditor General - confirm the Federal government provides less funding per child for services First Nations children on reserves than the provinces provide for children in their jurisdictions.

    This is despite often higher costs of delivering such services in small and remote communities, and the greater need experienced by many First Nations communities.



    The math is simple: less money plus higher costs = inadequate services for those who need them most.

    January 21, 2014
    Stephen Harper and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Jan 19 (PMO photo)

    Op-ed by Alex Neve (Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada), Béatrice Vaugrante (Directrice Générale, Amnistie internationale Canada francophone) and Yonatan Gher (Executive Director, Amnesty International Israel)

    Many eyes were watching closely during this visit. There would have been no better time to show that Canada is a principled human rights champion. But that was not to be.

    There was considerable fanfare and red carpet during Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trip to Israel this week.

    After nearly eight years in office, the prime minister visited the country with which he has forged closer links than almost any other. The spectacle was breathtaking, with a delegation of over 200 people, including six cabinet ministers and other government MPs. With that sort of political heft, the opportunity to press important issues was considerable. 

    How disappointing, though not surprising, that Israel’s numerous human rights shortcomings did not make that list.

    December 19, 2013

    The struggle of the LGBTI * community in Jamaica challenging the society for their rights, the descent into chaos in Syria examined through voices inside the country, and the plight of refugees in Australia and Thailand are issues explored in three excellent pieces of journalism. They were recognized today as winners of Amnesty International Canada’s nineteenth annual Media Awards for outstanding reporting about human rights issues in the Canadian media.

    Jennifer Quinn is the winner this year in national print for her feature article “A dangerous place to be gay” about the community in Jamaica that constantly faces violence and intolerance, published in the Sunday Star in Toronto August 11 2013. Traveling to the island, Jennifer Quinn interviews gay and lesbian individuals and activists and examines their efforts to change the situation with a landmark court challenge.

    December 18, 2013
    Tremendous early results from Write for Rights

    Barely a week has passed since December 10th, when Amnesty supporters in 80 countries put pen to paper for the world's largest human rights event, Write for Rights.Yet the global action counter has now surpassed 1,3 million, well on its way to our target of 2.0 million actions. Keep those reports coming in!

    Click here to report back

    In Canada, already over 400 events have reported back, with a total of nearly 20,000 letters written. Congratulations to all participants. Please visit the Write for Rights webpages to view photos and images of events:
    • Events in Canada
    • Updates from around the world

     

    December 18, 2013

     

         "Time for Consistent Action"
    Human Rights Agenda for Canada, December 2013

    READ REPORT

    December 04, 2013

    Canadians supporting Amnesty International’s work will join thousands of others around the world to Write for Rights around Wednesday December 10. The annual activity is now the world’s largest letter-writing event. Last year, Amnesty International members in more than 80 countries wrote almost two million letters, tweets and texts. The letters aim to save lives, stop torture, free prisoners of conscience and show solidarity.

    Individuals write letters based on 9 cases come from every continent and cover a wide range of different human rights issues:

    November 21, 2013
    Chief Joe Alphonse of the Tsilhqot'in Nation spoke outside the Supreme Court

    A case before the Supreme Court could mark an important turning point for the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada. At stake is the right of the Tsilhqot’in Nation to own lands at the heart of its traditional territory in British Columbia.

    Amnesty International and Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers) have joined together to urge the Court to seize this moment to give practical application to human rights standards affirmed in international law. This includes rights to lands and territories affirmed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    Read our joint statement on the case

    Want to know more?

    November 20, 2013

    On November 7, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada heard the crucial case of William v. British Columbia. At stake is the right of the Tsilhqot’in Nation to own lands at the heart of its traditional territory. Canadian law recognizes that Indigenous peoples may hold ongoing title to their lands that predates colonization. Yet to date no Canadian court has ever affirmed such Indigenous title.

    Amnesty International and Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers) joined together, and along with First Nations and other interveners, called on the Supreme Court to reject government efforts to limit First Nations’ ownership and control of land. We urged the Court to seize this moment to give practical application to human rights standards affirmed in international law, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    Background to the case

    November 06, 2013

    WHEN:  Friday November 8 10:00 am - 12:00 pm noon

    WHERE: Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, 299 Montreal Rd,  Ottawa

    Introduction: Leadership from the Tsilhqot'in National Government

    Keynote presentations:

    Grand Chief  Ed John, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
    Louise Mandell, Mandell Pinder. LLP

    Panelists:

    Will David, Paul Joffe, Robert Morales, Maria Morellato, and Jay Nelson

    For the first time in almost a decade, the Supreme Court of Canada is considering the vital question of Indigenous peoples' right to own and control their traditional lands and resources. The outcome of the Tsilhqot'in title case could have far reaching implications in Canada, and possibly around the world. This forum will examine the way Canadian constitutional and international human rights law are converging  in this landmark case. Speakers include prominent lawyers from the case.

    November 04, 2013

    Photo: Tsilhqot'in healer Cecil Grinder

    Good news: the federal government has announced its decision to reject the proposed New Prosperity Mine.

    In October, a scathing environmental impact assessment.concluded that the proposed mine would have “significant” long-term, and irreversible impacts on water quality in Teztan Biny or Fish Lake, on fish habitat, and on wetlands ecosystems and cause “high magnitude, “long-term” and “irreversible” harm to the Tsilhqot’in people who depend on these lands and waters.

    Thank you to everyone who wrote to the federal Minister of the Environment to encourage her to act on the findings of this assessment.

    For more information, please see our update.

    If you would like to send a letter commending the federal government for its decision, the Minister's address is below.

    Salutation: Dear Minister

    November 01, 2013

     

    David Alward, Premier of New Brunswick
    Centennial Building
    P.O. Box 6000
    Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1

     Dear Premier Alward:

    Our organizations are deeply concerned by the Province of New Brunswick’s response to anti-fracking protests at the Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq Nation. We are appreciative of the efforts of all involved to allow a cooling off period following the violence of October 17. However, it is our view that this clash could have been avoided had the province acted in a manner consistent with its obligations to respect the human rights of Indigenous peoples under Canadian and international law. Furthermore, we are concerned that unless the province adopts an approach consistent with these obligations, further clashes may occur.

    October 22, 2013

    People who have been harmed by Canadian mining, oil and gas companies overseas may soon be able to bring their cases to Canada.

    Today, 23 Canadian organizations and their international allies issued a call to action to Members of Parliament, and all Canadians, to ensure that victims of Canadian corporate abuse abroad can access justice in Canada.

    The call to action addresses two key barriers to justice: weak out-of-court mechanisms, and obstacles to suing in Canadian courts.

    “It is time for Canada to create a mandatory extractive- sector Ombudsman and to legislate access to courts for people who are harmed by the overseas operations of Canadian oil, mining and gas companies,” said Emily Dwyer, Coordinator of the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA).

    Canada’s voluntary Extractive-Sector CSR Counsellor has proved hopelessly ineffective since the Office was established in 2009.

    October 21, 2013

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

    The United Nation’s top expert on the human rights of Indigenous peoples says Canada is facing a “crisis” which must be addressed.

    James Anaya visited Canada this month as part of a fact-finding mission. At a press conference to conclude his visit, the Special Rapporteur said,

    “The well-being gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in Canada has not narrowed over the last several years, treaty and aboriginals claims remain persistently unresolved, and overall there appear to be high levels of distrust among aboriginal peoples toward government at both the federal and provincial levels.”

    The Special Rapporteur went on to note that while “Canada consistently ranks near the top among countries with respect to human development standards… aboriginal people live in conditions akin to those in countries that rank much lower and in which poverty abounds.”

    Some of the specific examples raised by the Special rapporteur included:

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