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Indigenous Peoples

    November 02, 2017

    The Site C dam is a project that should never have been approved. As the British Columbia Utilities Commission has now concluded after a long overdue review of the cost and purpose of this project, completing Site C offers little or no economic benefit compared to less destructive alternatives and could ultimately cost much more and carry greater financial and legal risks. Completing the construction is, quite simply, bad public policy.

    More than that, however, the Site C dam represents a profound betrayal of the solemn commitments undertaken when Canada entered into Treaty 8, when it adopted its Constitution, and when it endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    April 28, 2017

    The civil society organization Bolivian Documentation and Information Centre (CEDIB) reports being harassed, threatened, and evicted from its premises in Cochabamba, central Bolivia. This is a worrying sign of shrinking civic space in Bolivia and could mean the loss of decades of evidence related to human rights in the country.

    On 21 March, the Dean of Universidad Mayor de San Simon (UMSS), a public university in Cochabamba, Juan Rios, issued an official letter to the Director of the Bolivian Documentation and Information Centre (Centro de Documentación e Información Bolivia, CEDIB), Marco Gandarillas, informing CEDIB that they had 48 hours to vacate their office, located inside the UMSS, which they have occupied since 1993. This letter was sent following a visit on the same day by a UMSS advisor to the CEDIB office. CEDIB staff members reported that during this visit the UMSS advisor threatened the CEDIB staff, stating that they would be “locked in” and “they would not be allowed in or out of their office” if they did not evacuate the premises immediately.

    August 03, 2016

    Press Conference Comments

    Alex Neve
    Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada (English Branch)

    It is almost twelve years since Amnesty International launched our Stolen Sisters report, documenting the role of long entrenched discrimination in putting shocking numbers of Indigenous women and girls in harm’s way.

    In raising our voice, we joined the Native Women’s Association of Canada; family members of murdered and missing First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls; women and girls who had survived violence; and countless frontline organizations and allies; all of whom had been struggling for years to draw attention to the violence and demand real action to bring it to an end.

    Above all else today we honour the steadfast determination of the families who have courageously bared their pain and sorrow to Canada and, in fact, the world in pressing for justice.

    March 03, 2016

    The brutal killing of a vocal indigenous leader in Honduras paints a terrifying picture of the dangers faced by human rights defenders and social activists in the country, said Amnesty International.

    Berta Cáceres, leader and co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH), was shot dead in her home early this morning in the town of La Esperanza, in the province of Intibucá, west Honduras.

    “The cowardly killing of Berta is a tragedy that was waiting to happen. For years, she had been the victim of a sustained campaign of harassment and threats to stop her from defending the rights of indigenous communities,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Unless the authorities in Honduras take decisive action to find those responsible for this heinous crime and take measures to protect other activists like Berta, they will have blood on their hands. The government must bring those responsible for this crime to justice, and guarantee protection for her family and all members of COPINH.”

    February 11, 2016

    Organizations from across Canada are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take immediate action to halt construction of the Site C dam in north-eastern British Columbia

    In an open letter released today, more than 25 organizations, including Amnesty International, the David Suzuki Foundation, and Sierra Club BC, denounced the project for violation of rights protected under Treaty 8, the Canadian Constitution, and international human rights law.

    Although promoted by the government of BC as a “clean” source of renewable energy, the joint federal-provincial environmental impact assessment panel concluded that the Site C dam would severely and permanently undermine Indigenous peoples’ use of the land and destroy important cultural sites and a unique ecosystem.

    December 08, 2015

    Read the FAQ on Public Inquiries

     

    Today the government of Canada launched the design process for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada. Amnesty International welcomes this announcement, which has been long called for by Indigenous women and girls, the families of women who have gone missing and been murdered, National Aboriginal Organizations, and human rights groups like Amnesty International. We are mindful of all the families we have worked with for so many years as part of our No More Stolen Sisters campaign--they are in our thoughts today and every day. 

    In the lead up to this announcement, many questions. What exactly is a National Inquiry? What can it accomplish? How will the voices of Indigenous women and girls and family members be heard? 

    November 24, 2015

    Respect for Indigenous peoples' right of free, prior and informed (FPIC) must be a matter of urgent priority for any government committed to a respectful relationship with Indigenous peoples.

    This is part of a message to the the new Prime Minister and his Cabinet from Indigenous peoples' organizations, human rights groups, environmentalists and others.

    In an open letter sent today, 16 organizations from across Canada called on the federal government to collaborate with Indigenous Peoples’ governments and organizations to ensure that:

    November 24, 2015

    Dear Prime Minister,

    Our organizations welcome your public commitment to a renewed relationship between the federal government and Indigenous Peoples in Canada based on the rights guaranteed in Canada’s Constitution and enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We hope that this vision of cooperation and partnership will shape your government’s actions and priorities from the outset.

    We are encouraged that, as a “top priority”, you have mandated the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to support reconciliation and implement the UN Declaration.

    In particular, our organizations believe that there is an immediate and pressing need for your government to collaborate with Indigenous Peoples to institute the crucial human rights safeguard of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in the laws, policies and procedures of the federal government.

    October 15, 2015

    “Our people have a deep connection with this land because our ancestors told the stories and legends that are connected to that valley.”
    -- Chief Liz Logan, Treaty 8 Tribal Association, testifying before the environmental impact assessment of the proposed Site C hydroelectric dam

    The Peace River Valley in northeastern British Columbia is a unique ecosystem and one of the very few areas in the region that so far has been largely preserved from large-scale resource development. First Nations and Métis families and communities rely on the valley for hunting and fishing, gathering berries and sacred medicine, and holding ceremonies. Their ancestors are buried in this land.

    The planned $8 billion plus Site C hydroelectric dam would flood more than 80 km of the river valley, stretching west from Fort St. John. There is no dispute that construction of the dam and the flooding will have a severe impact on the First Nations and Métis families and communities who depend on the Valley. 

    October 13, 2015

    OTTAWA, Oct. 13, 2015 /CNW/ - Over ninety organizations and First Nation communities sent an open letter to federal party leaders today urging them to prioritize funding commitments to end the drinking water crises in Indigenous communities.

    The letter reads, "Despite repeated pledges from the federal government to ensure clean drinking water, there are routinely over 100 water advisories in effect in First Nation communities, with some communities living under advisories for over 10 years." Based on Health Canada and the First Nations Health Authority's latest figures, there are a total of 162 drinking water advisories in 118 First Nation communities.

    Last week, Neskantaga First Nation demanded action from federal parties on its 20-year boil-water advisory, the longest running drinking water advisory in Canada.

    The groups are calling on federal party leaders to:

    • commit to investing $470 million annually for the next 10 years in First Nations water treatment and wastewater systems

    August 14, 2015

    “I find it shocking that we are better at keeping our young people locked up in detention than in school.” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda in a recent Amnesty International report on Australia

    In many countries around the world, Indigenous women, men and youth are much more likely than other members of society to spend a significant part of their lives behind bars.

    The disproportionate rates of incarceration are usually a result both of the ongoing, largely unaddressed impact of colonial policies and practices that have marginalized and impoverished Indigenous peoples and of the systemic discrimination and bias that continue to face Indigenous peoples in justice systems that remain foreign to their cultures and values.

    July 23, 2015

    Indigenous peoples and human rights groups say that a new United Nations report on Canada’s human rights record should be a wake-up call for all Canadians.

    The UN Human Rights Committee, which regularly reviews whether states are living up to their obligations under the binding International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,  today made more than a dozen recommendations for fundamental changes in Canadian law and policy in respect to the treatment of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

    The Committee was so concerned about issues of violence against Indigenous women and the violation of Indigenous Peoples’ land rights that it called on Canada to report back within one year on progress made to implement its recommendations on these issues.

    June 08, 2015

    Last week, a summary report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission described Canada’s Residential Schools as “part of a coherent policy to eliminate Aboriginal people as distinct peoples and to assimilate them into the Canadian mainstream against their will.”

    The statement affirms something that is now well-established –and which was, in fact, acknowledged in Canada’s official apology to residential school survivors.

    Quite simply, the residential school policy had at its heart an insidious agenda to eradicate First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples as distinct cultures, societies and nation. And the tragic effects of the harm that was done --  including the terrible deprivations and abuses inflicted on so many of the girls and boys who were torn from their families and communities to attend these schools, as well as the loss of language, community cohesion and cultural knowledge and skills -- continue to be felt today.

    June 02, 2015

    Full implementation of the recommendations released today by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is essential to provide justice for residential schools survivors and their communities and to ensure that Canada lives up to its international human rights obligations.

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established as part of a legal settlement with survivors of the government-funded and church-run Indian Residential Schools. For over a century, more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were forcibly taken from their families and communities to attend these schools. The Commission estimates than more than 6,000 children died in these schools while countless others endured hardship, deprivation and abuse.

    June 02, 2015

    Amnesty International Australia Release

    Indigenous communities are taking new, innovative approaches to keep children out of detention - but their success hinges on Australian government support, to reverse Australia’s crisis of Indigenous youth incarceration, said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty, launching a national report at the National Press Club today.

    Salil Shetty is in Australia to call on the Government to support Indigenous-led justice reinvestment programs, in response to the soaring overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in detention, who are incarcerated at 24 times the rate of non-Indigenous children.

    Australia locks up Indigenous children, from as young as 10 years old, at one of the highest rates in the world.

    Overrepresentation is rising, with Indigenous children making up less than 6% of the population of 10–17 year-olds yet more than half (58 per cent) of young people in detention.

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