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    April 27, 2017

    Citizens’ groups, Indigenous peoples, human rights and environmental organizations are asking British Columbia MPs to take a message to Ottawa.

    “British Columbia’s Site C dam is one of the largest megaprojects of our generation,” said Andrea Morison, Executive Director of the Peace Valley Environment Association. “Our political leaders cannot continue to ignore the devastating impacts it will have on our waters and on the rights of Indigenous peoples.”

    More than 120,000 people have signed petitions, postcards and letters calling for an immediate halt to construction. Petitions were presented to BC MPs today as they prepared to return to the House of Commons after a Parliamentary break.

    Organizers included Amnesty International Canada, Leadnow, Sierra Club BC, the Peace Valley Environment Association, KAIROS, Keepers of the Water, Peace Valley Landowners Association, Alliance4Democracy and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

    April 27, 2017

    UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

    Sixteenth Session

    Thursday April 27, 2017

    Agenda Item 4

    Speaker: Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild

    Joint Statement by: Confederacy of Treaty No. 6; Amnesty International; Assembly of First Nations; Assemblée des Premières Nations du Québec et Labrador/Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador; Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee); First Nations Summit; BC Assembly of First Nations; Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers); Union of BC Indian Chiefs; KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

     

    The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples constitutes a social, political, legal, and historical reality. The Declaration recognizes that “respect for indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices contributes to sustainable and equitable development and proper management of the environment”.

    The new American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in June 2015, affirms in Article XIX:

    April 25, 2017

    UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

    Sixteenth Session

    Tuesday April 25, 2017

    Agenda Item 8

     

    Joint Statement of: Assembly of First Nations; Assemblée des Premières Nations du Québec et Labrador/Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador First Nations; Amnesty International; Confederacy of Treaty No. 6; First Nations Summit; Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee); BC Assembly of First Nations; Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers); Union of BC Indian Chiefs; Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.; KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.

    April 24, 2017

    Almost 10 years have passed since the United Nations voted to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a global standard of human rights protection.

    There can be no doubt that the adoption of the Declaration was a landmark moment for human rights globally and a triumph for the Indigenous peoples’ movement in particular.

    Before the Declaration could be adopted, Indigenous peoples had to prevail over the reluctance, resistance and sometimes outright hostility of some states.

    In doing so, Indigenous peoples were able to advance a vital global human rights instrument, one that repudiates centuries of violence, dispossession and marginalization and closes the gaps in rights protection available to the societies, families and individuals who must contend daily with the legacy of those abuses and with new manifestations of permutations of the same racism and discrimination.

    April 20, 2017
    Sign in the Peace Valley shows potential flooding impact of the Site C dam

    Two things need to be said up front about British Columbia’s Site C dam.

    The first is that flooding more than 100km of the Peace River Valley and its tributaries will be profoundly harmful to lives and well-being of Indigenous peoples in northeast BC, which is why there has been such strong opposition to the dam from Treaty 8 First Nations.

    The Peace River Valley is a unique ecosystem supporting plants and animal populations crucial to Cree and Dene-Zaa cultural traditions. It is also the location of countless graves and historic sites. On top of that, the valley is also one of the few remaining areas in the northeast that have been largely protected from the impacts of pervasive resource development in the region.

    The independent panel that conducted the environmental assessment of Site C on behalf of the federal and provincial governments called these impacts severe, permanent and irreversible.

    April 13, 2017

    By: Marium Yousuf

    On a beautiful, crisp sunny day last weekend, Amnesty International, Sojurn House, Culture Link and the Centre for Victims of Torture held an event in Toronto to mark Canada’s Refugee Rights Day (April 4). The tone was deliberately celebratory, with performances from the Nai Syrian Kids Choir, poet Ama Luna and poet/singer, song-writer Ruth Mathiang that left the audience captivated all afternoon.

    The Nai Syrian Kids Choir immediately captured everyone’s attention as they streamed through the room in their yellow uniforms. Ranging between the ages from 6-12, it was hard to imagine that these smiling young faces had experienced war and loss, having recently resettled in Canada as Syrian refugees. The Choir is an initiative of Culture Link and serves as a space for children to deal with their loss, grief and hope through music, while their parents practice conversational English with ESL teachers. Their performances did not disappoint: singing songs in Arabic, French and English, while their beaming parents cheered them on.

    April 13, 2017

    On May 9th, a provincial election will be held in British Columbia. Amnesty International  is urging all candidates to make clear public commitments to closing crucial gaps in oversight, accountability, and service delivery that jeopardize the safety, health and well-being of many British Columbians and undermine human rights protection in the province.

    We need your help! We're asking all our supporters in British Columbia to help us ensure that human rights are part of this election.

    Here's how: 

    1. Learn more 

    Amnesty International has issued an open letter to all candidates in this election outlining our concerns, including:

    April 13, 2017

    Celebrated global music artist and activist Alicia Keys and the inspirational movement of Indigenous Peoples fighting for their rights in Canada have been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2017, the human rights organization announced today.

    The award will be officially presented at a ceremony in Montréal, Canada, on May 27.

    Accepting the award recognizing the Indigenous rights movement of Canada will be six individuals representing the strength and diversity of the movement, which has bravely fought to end discrimination and ensure the safety and well-being of Indigenous families and communities. They are Cindy Blackstock, Delilah Saunders, Melanie Morrison, Senator Murray Sinclair, Melissa Mollen Dupuis and Widia Larivière.

    “The Ambassador of Conscience Award is Amnesty International’s highest honour, celebrating those who have shown exceptional leadership and courage in championing human rights,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    April 10, 2017

    In an Open Letter, Amnesty International Canada has called on all candidates in British Columbia’s upcoming provincial election to commit to addressing crucial gaps in oversight, accountability, and service delivery that jeopardize the safety, health and well-being of many British Columbians and thus undermine their human rights.

    “As a wealthy province in a wealthy country, British Columbia should be setting a positive example for the rest of the world that human rights can and will be safeguarded and upheld in every government decision,” says Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “The recommendations we’ve placed before candidates provide for practical and effective measures toward realizing that objective.”

    April 04, 2017

    Some of the world’s largest companies are selling food and cosmetics containing palm oil that is tainted by shocking human rights abuses, including forced and child labour. Corporate giants, such as Nestlé , Kellogg’s, Colgate, Unilever and Procter & Gamble are turning a blind eye to the exploitation of workers in their palm oil supply chain. These companies reassure their customers that they are using “sustainable” palm oil, yet Amnesty’s research reveals that the palm oil is anything but.

    These companies buy palm oil from plantations run by Wilmar in Indonesia. Amnesty has discovered severe labour abuses at Wilmar’s plantations, including unsafe working conditions, discrimination against women, unrealistic targets and penalties, and children doing hazardous work.

    Write a lettter:

    Contact the makers of Dove soap, KitKat chocolate bars, Knorr soup, Pantene shampoo, Gerber baby cereal, Colgate toothpaste, Palmolive dish soap and Magnum and Parlour ice cream and demand that they take responsibility for human rights abuses in their palm oil supply chain.

    April 03, 2017
    A refugee in Montreal looks out a window over the city

    By Gloria Nafziger: Refugee Coordinator Amnesty International

    “It was like Donald Trump had awakened a dormant volcano that was ready to erupt at any time; and I didn’t want to be a part of it”

    April 4 is Refugee Rights Day in Canada.  This is the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1985 Singh decision, which recognized that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects refugees' fundamental rights.  The Court decided that refugee claimants are included in the Charter sentence: ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.’ 

    This means that, in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice and international law, refugees who enter Canada from the United States and make a refugee claim are entitled to an oral hearing.

    March 27, 2017

    By Tara Scurr, Business and Human Rights Campaigner. Follow Tara on Twitter @AIBHRGuatemala.

    The Mount Polley copper mine tailings pond spill in August 2014 may have faded from the headlines, but people in BC living near the spill site who rely on the region for food, medicines and livelihoods are still suffering from all they have lost. And, they are concerned that Quesnel Lake and its tributaries may be irreversibly contaminated by toxic tailings from the spill and ongoing mine water discharges. 

    March 22, 2017

    The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA), of which Amnesty International Canada is a member, is concerned and disappointed that the 2017 federal budget failed to announce the creation of a human rights ombudsperson for the extractive sector.

    Communities, workers, and indigenous peoples outside of Canada whose human rights are impacted by Canadian extractive companies have few options to have their voices heard and their problems remedied. They continue to wait for the Canadian government to address the international corporate accountability gap and to advance human rights around the globe.

    “The Government of Canada has said it shares the goal of ensuring that Canadian extractive companies respect the rights of all people, no matter where they operate”, said Moderator Jordan Cantwell of the United Church of Canada. “What we don’t know is why we haven’t yet seen concrete action when a ready-to-go proposal for a human rights ombudsperson has been handed to them.”

    March 20, 2017

    Late in the day on Friday, March 17, we received the wonderful news that there has at very, very long last been settlement reached between Abdullah Almalki / Ahmad Elmaati / Muayyed Nureddin and the federal government with respect to Canada’s responsibility for the torture and other serious human rights violations the three men went through in Syria (and also Egypt in Ahmad’s case) between 2001 and 2004.  It would be an understatement to say this is overdue.  It would not be an overstatement to say this is an enormously welcome relief for the men and their families.  Above all else I pay tribute to them – and their families – for their courage and determination in not giving up in their crucial pursuit of justice and redress.

    March 20, 2017

    *By: Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada’s English branch, and Béatrice Vaugrante, director-general of Amnesty International Canada’s Francophone branch

    Progress in ending the brutal worldwide scourge of torture requires ensuring accountability for this terrible crime. Torturers and those who aid and authorize torture must face justice. Survivors of torture and the families of men and women who suffer and, sadly, often die under torture must receive redress for what they have endured.

    So obvious. But so universally neglected.

    That is why the welcome news that Canadian citizens Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin are receiving a long-overdue apology and compensation for the many ways that Canadian action and inaction set them up to be tortured in Syria (and also Egypt in Mr. El Maati’s case) is an important step in the right direction.

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