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    November 24, 2016

    By Jackie Hansen, Women’s Rights Campaigner

    Annually since 1991, women’s rights activists from around the world have joined together to take action as part of the 16 Days of Activism to end Gender-based Violence campaign. Women and girls continue to experience violence directed at them because of their gender. Indigenous women and girls experience higher rates of violence than any other group of women and girls in Canada. The federal government has launched a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This is a laudable effort and one that Indigenous womens’ organizations, Amnesty International and many others long called for, but action to end violence against Indigenous women and girls must not be delayed until the Inquiry finishes its work two years from now.

    November 23, 2016

    Join Amnesty International supporters around the world on International Human Rights Day for our global campaign Write for Rights, and protect Indigenous rights in the Peace River valley!

    The proposed $8 billion plus Site C hydroelectric dam would flood more than 80 km of the river valley, stretching west from Fort St. John. The severe impact on Indigenous peoples is beyond dispute. A joint federal-province environmental impact assessment concluded that the dam would “severely undermine” use of the land, would make fishing unsafe for at least a generation, and would submerge burial grounds and other crucial cultural and historical sites.

    Here are some ways you can stand with Indigenous peoples of the Peace River valley against the Site C dam:

     

    1. Send a solidarity message or photograph

    Rising Waters photo action:

    November 21, 2016

    New information released last week concerning police investigations into allegations of sexual violence and other abuses of Indigenous women and men in northern Quebec highlights the urgent need to ensure better police accountability, particularly for individuals and communities who have experienced a history of severe human rights violations in Canada.

    “Indigenous women and girls are rightly questioning whether they can trust police and government to take allegations of sexual assault and other abuses seriously,” said Beatrice Vaugrante, Directrice générale of the Francophone Branch of Amnesty International Canada. “We know that a swift and thorough investigation is the most likely way to meet the burden of proof in the prosecution of sexual assaults. Unfortunately, mistrust of authorities, fear of repercussions and gender discrimination means that assaults either generally go unreported, especially if the alleged perpetrators are police, or go reported but with obstacles to accessing justice. These concerns are magnified for Indigenous women and girls who have experienced so much racism and discrimination in Canadian society.”

    November 18, 2016

    November 18, 2016 – The Trans Equality Canada coalition applauds the government and all parties in the House of Commons for quickly passing Bill C-16, an important step towards enshrining the equal rights of transgender individuals in Canadian law and providing protection from hate crimes. We especially commend MP Randall Garrison and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould for their leadership in this initiative.

    As we approach the International Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, this legislation is an important step towards upholding the human rights of individuals who are vulnerable to significantly heightened levels of discrimination and violence.

    Bill C-16 will add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. It will also add gender identity and gender expression to hate crimes sentencing provisions in the Canadian Criminal Code, providing transgender individuals with stronger protection from being deliberately targeted for acts of violence.

    November 03, 2016

    Decades of unchecked resource development and government policy failures have strained the social fabric of communities in northeast British Columbia (BC), Canada, and have put the lives and safety of Indigenous women and girls at great risk, Amnesty International said in a new report.

    The report, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, demonstrates how resource development in northeast BC has eroded the land base that provides the foundation for First Nations and Métis health and wellness in the region, while influxes of transient workers have driven up local prices for essentials such as housing. Increased rates of violent crime and diminished access to social services have placed Indigenous women and girls at increased risk of harm, while denying them the protections and support they need. Northeast BC has one of the highest violent crime rates in Canada.

    November 01, 2016

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
    MEDIA ADVISORY

    CANADA: Rampant resource development in northeast BC puts Indigenous women and girls at HEIGHTENED risk of VIOLENCE

    Vancouver – On November 3, Amnesty International will launch a new report at a press conference in Vancouver documenting how unchecked resource development and government policy failures have put Indigenous women and girls at increased risk of violence and human rights violations in northeast British Colombia, Canada.

    The report, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, demonstrates how resource development has eroded the land base that provides the foundation for First Nations and Métis health and wellness in the region, while influxes of transient workers have driven up local prices and strained the social fabric. Increased rates of violent crime and diminished access to social services have placed Indigenous women and girls at increased risk of harm, while denying them the protections and support they need.

    October 28, 2016

    Christy Jordan-Fenton is a grassroots activist, educator, and author who lives with her family on a farm outside of Fort St. John, a small community in northeast British Columbia. Being raised in part by a Cree stepfather who attended residential school, and later residing with her residential school survivor mother-in-law, as well as being dedicated to Indigenous ceremonial practices, fueled Christy’s activism in support of the rights of Indigenous peoples. It also inspired her to write four children’s books about her mother-in-law’s experience at residential school. Christy uses her books as tools to educate young people about the residential school system and its legacies. Christy is also part of the grassroots effort to respect Indigenous rights by halting construction of the Site C hydroelectric dam. Amnesty International caught up with Christy in Fort St. John.

    October 26, 2016

    In an extraordinary victory for Indigenous rights and environmental protection, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador has agreed to measures to reduce immediate risks to Inuit health and culture from the Muskrat Falls dam.

    Following almost two weeks of protests, including a hunger strike, occupations of the dam site and a journey to Ottawa, the government met yesterday with Inuit and Innu leaders. The result was an agreement to:

    October 25, 2016

    Joint Statement by Canadian Civil Society Organizations

    Today Canada’s record of women’s equality is under the spotlight at the United Nations in Geneva. The 65th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women happens at an opportune moment for Canadian women. Canada has a new federal government with a Prime Minister who says he is a feminist, calls for a nation-to-nation relationship, and acknowledges that “poverty is sexist”.  We know words matter, but now we need action.

    Decades of regressive legislative changes and budget cuts have substantially eroded women’s rights under the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW) in Canada. Since 1995, Canada has fallen from 1st to 25th place on the UN Gender Equality Index.

    October 24, 2016
    Muskrat Falls hunger strikers at Human Rights Monument, Ottawa

    A hunger strike by three Inuit land defenders - Billy Gauthier, Jerry Kohlmeister and Delilah Saunders – is a powerful symbol of the tragic choices that will face Inuit hunters and fishers if planned flooding for the Muskrat Falls dam goes ahead.

    Flooding will release deadly methylmercury into the water system where it will accumulate in the fish, seals, duck eggs and other wild food that are central to the diet of Inuit people living around the downstream Lake Melville Estuary.

    The provincial government plans to monitor the fish and issue warnings when the mercury levels become unsafe.

    A government MP summed it up this approach in a facebook post: “Just measure MeHg [methylmercury] levels, eat less fish.”

    What this approach means for Inuit families is an impossible choice between abandoning the food that sustains them and their culture, or risking the devastating impacts of mercury poisoning.

    “I come from a very large family that couldn’t get by without country food,” Delilah Saunders explained.

    October 24, 2016

    Geneva, Switzerland – Canada is not doing enough to protect the human rights and safety of women and girls, especially First Nations, Metis, Inuit and migrant and refugee women and girls, says Amnesty International as Canada undergoes its first review before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) since 2008. Amnesty International is particularly concerned that many past recommendations from the Committee remain unimplemented.

    “We welcome the government of Canada’s renewed commitment to gender equality, to Indigenous rights, and to ending violence against Indigenous women and girls,” says Jackie Hansen, Women’s Rights Campaigner with Amnesty International Canada (English). “However, Canada continues to fall short of its international obligations and it is crucial that Canada’s commitments are matched with concrete actions and measurable results in the near-term.” 

    October 20, 2016

    Tech companies like Snapchat and Skype’s owner Microsoft are failing to adopt basic privacy protections on their instant messaging services, putting users’ human rights at risk, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization’s new ‘Message Privacy Ranking’ assesses the 11 companies with the most popular messaging apps on the way they use encryption to protect users’ privacy and freedom of expression across their messaging apps.

    TAKE ACTION: Tell governments to end indiscriminate mass surveillance 

    “If you think instant messaging services are private, you are in for a big surprise. The reality is that our communications are under constant threat from cybercriminals and spying by state authorities. Young people, the most prolific sharers of personal details and photos over apps like Snapchat, are especially at risk,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Amnesty International’s Technology and Human Rights Team.

    October 20, 2016

    Geneva, Switzerland – Amnesty International spokespeople are available for interview from Geneva, where Canada will be under review by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on October 24th. This is the first review by the UN body since 2008, when the Committee outlined numerous shortcomings in Canada’s progress toward the elimination of discrimination against women and girls. 

    Amnesty International made a formal submission to the CEDAW as part of Canada’s review process. It finds that Canada is not doing enough to protect the human rights and safety of women and girls, especially First Nations, Metis, Inuit and migrant and refugee women and girls. Amnesty International is particularly concerned that many past recommendations from the Committee remain unimplemented.

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    October 19, 2016

    In response to Canada’s announcement today that it will co-sponsor a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions, Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve said:

    “The announcement that Canada will, for the first time, co-sponsor the upcoming UN General Assembly resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions, is a welcome indication that Canada is indeed committed to the worldwide campaign against the death penalty. Canada’s refusal, on the five previous occasions that this resolution has come before the UN in the last nine years, has been deeply troubling.  Around the world, momentum is growing towards ending executions and abolishing the death penalty.  Canada is now well-positioned to take on a key leadership role with respect to this important human rights issue.”

    BACKGROUND:

    The draft 2016 resolution on a “Moratorium on the use of the death penalty” is expected to be introduced at the beginning of November.

    October 19, 2016

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. 

    Human rights or security?  In Canada and around the world the debate rages on; but it is an utterly false debate.  We must, finally and firmly, reject the assumption and assertion that more of one necessarily leads to less of the other.  There is no security without human rights.

    A few years ago I was in West Africa with an Amnesty International research team looking into a range of human rights violations associated with counter-terrorism laws and operations in Mauritania.  The sister of an army officer who had “disappeared” while in prison summed up perfectly the absurdity of the notion that there is any sort of rights and security trade-off.  As she told me, “if they truly want us to feel more secure, they should start by stopping violating our rights.”

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