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    Dr. Cindy Blackstock, a member of the Gitxan Nation, is a prominent researcher and advocate for the rights of children. As Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, Cindy has brought a landmark discrimination case to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to challenge the federal government’s chronic underfunding of children’s services on First Nations reserves and for First Nations children in the Yukon. The closing arguments in that hearing will take place October 20-24 and will be webcast live at

    We spoke with Cindy as part of a series of conversation with Indigenous advocates and leaders to mark the 10th anniversary of Amnesty International’s report Stolen Sisters: A Human Rights Response to Discrimination and Violence against Indigenous Women in Canada.

    Amnesty International Calgary would like to invite you to attend a night of information sharing and letter writing on February 23rd.

    We will be hosting a mini-writeathon in support of Amnesty Canada's "Halt Site C" campaign. The evening will include videos, petitions and the option to write letters to British Columbia's Premier, Christy Clark, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other relevant ministers. We've included more information about the case below.

    Please RSVP on our Facebook page.

    The planned Site C dam in northeastern British Columbia is one of the largest resource development projects currently planned anywhere in Canada.

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    We share our world, and we share responsibility for making it the kind of place in which we want to live. This includes responsibility for protecting each other’s human rights and freedom.

    A report released by the RCMP earlier this year marks the first time that police in Canada have attempted, at the national level, to identify how many First Nations, Inuit or Métis women and girls have been murdered or have gone missing.

    According to the report, 1,017 women and girls identified as Indigenous were murdered between 1980 and 2012—a homicide rate roughly 4.5 times higher than that of all other women in Canada.

    In addition, the report states that as of November 2013, at least 105 Indigenous women and girls remained missing under suspicious circumstances or for undetermined reasons.

    These appalling statistics are consistent with previous estimates from sources such as Statistics Canada that have long pointed to a greatly disproportionate level of violence against that First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls. The latest numbers also underline what Indigenous women and advocacy organizations have long been saying–that this violence requires a specific and concerted response from police and all levels of society.

    All governments have a responsibility to do everything in their power to prevent violence against women. This includes provincial and territorial governments as well as municipalities. It also includes Indigenous governments and institutions such as Band Councils. All have a shared responsibility to be part of the solution to ending violence against Indigenous women and girls.

    However, the federal government has a particular responsibility to help ensure the safety and well-being of Indigenous women and girls.

    Here are some of the reasons why:

    Canada has been viewed as a global leader with respect to refugee protection.  It has signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees other human rights instruments which protect refugees.  Canada was the first country to set out guidelines for considering the refugee claims of women, and has taken an active role globally in the resettlement of refugees through both government and private sponsorship programs.  In recent years however, Canada like many other countries, is creating more barriers for people seeking safety and security.

    Amnesty International is concerned that the debate around asylum seekers and refugees in Canada is being framed by myths and misconceptions. Government ministers frequently refer to asylum seekers and refugees as ‘bogus’ and attempt to shape public attitudes with language which suggests refugees are criminals or otherwise “breaking the rules.”

    It’s a crucial moment for human rights in Canada. And you can be part of it.

    From October 20-24, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal will hear the closing arguments in a history-making case on equity for First Nations children.

    At issue is whether the federal government has discriminated against First Nations children living on reserves, and in the Yukon, by consistently providing less money per child for family services than its provincial counterparts provide in predominantly non-Aboriginal communities.

    At stake is the ability of children’s agencies to provide urgently needed prevention programs for at risk First Nations children and to stem the unprecedented numbers of First Nations children being taken from their families and communities and put into state care.

    The human rights complaint was initiated by a national non-governmental organization, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the Caring Society, recently told Amnesty International,

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      Canada starts to close troubling human rights gap

    Human rights abuses at Canadian-owned mining and oil and gas sites around the world are widespread and well documented. Victims often have nowhere to turn to seek justice. The Canadian Government has taken steps to address this problem.

    Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, April-May 2013

    In this submission, prepared for the UN Universal Periodic Review of Canada in April-May 2013, Amnesty International comments on Canada’s implementation of its human rights obligations and on its engagement with UPR principles, such as consultation with civil society. 

    Amnesty International notes Canada’s reluctance to ratify international human rights conventions or to adopt binding international standards on corporate accountability.

    The organization also comments on the human rights situation facing Indigenous Peoples, the rising inequality of women and troubling trends regarding sexual violence against women, arbitrary detention and refoulement of migrants, as well as concerns regarding torture, and excessive methods of policing during protests.

    Your Member of Parliament needs to know that constituents like you are calling for a comprehensive national response to the alarmingly high rates of violence against Indigenous women. 

    Phone or meet with your Member of Parliament (MP) during the week of October 14-17, when MPs are home for the Thanksgiving break week, to express concern about the scale of the violence and to call for a National Action Plan on violence against Indigenous women coupled with a National Public Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

    Who is your MP?

    Find out here.

    On September 12, the Federal Court of Appeal in Montreal will hear the latest legal challenge to the massive Site C hydroelectric dam already under construction on Treaty 8 territory in northeast British Columbia.

    First Nations community members from Treaty 8 are travelling by bus across Canada to focus attention of the importance of this case to the rights of all treaty nations and to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promised new relationship with First Nations.

    On September 13, the caravan will arrive in Ottawa to mark the anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with a rally on Parliament Hill. 

    The scale and severity of violence faced by Indigenous women and girls requires a corresponding commitment by government to ensuring their safety. Amnesty International has long called for a comprehensive, coordinated national plan of action to address gaps in current policies, programs and services; involve Indigenous women’s organizations in identifying the necessary solutions; and ensure accountability in their delivery.

    Hi-Ho Mistahey! by Alanis Obomsawin, National Film Board of Canada

    Hi-Ho Mistahey, a powerful new documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Alanis Obomsawim, tells the story of Shannen's Dream, a grassroots youth movement standing up for First Nations children and their right to equitable access to schools and education.

    Until February 16, you can click on the link above to view Hi-Ho Mistahey!  online. This special streaming presentation of the documentary is in collaboration with Have a Heart Day. Have a Heart Day is a national campaign, initiated by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society to promote the rights of First Nations children.

    More information on Have a Heart Day


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