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Meet Charlene Scharf: AI Canada Fieldworker

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    Monday, March 16, 2015 - 15:13

    When I was first presented with the idea of becoming a Fieldworker, I had really no idea of what that meant other than our Fieldworker, Mary Trumpener, knew a great deal and was an excellent organizer, even in situations where it seemed like herding cats. 

    I have been looking back on my time as a Fieldworker lately as we have lost our Mary Trumpener to cancer.  For the past 12 years I have done so very many things, met some incredible people in Amnesty and those we have worked as Amnesty members to free.  If I had to sum up what I have done it and put it into a job description I would say I have been an educating, facilitating, planning, supporting member for Amnesty’s continued growth in Northern Alberta.  Seems daunting, and sometimes it has been, but it has always been


    Rally for Omar Khadr, Edmonton, 2009

    I was doing a lunch hour presentation at a local high school in Edmonton and was asked a question I found difficult to answer:  of all the actions I have worked on/with, which did I find the most rewarding?  It took me a couple of minutes to answer and then I could not just name one action.  From learning about and helping to promote the action to free Maher Arar to Omar Khadr to most recently, Raif Badawai, each has touched my heart and my passion for protection of people’s human rights.  How could I possibly choose one?  I have to admit that my work for Omar Khadr has not only been my most challenging work, but also the most long lived one. 

    As a legal assistant in my working world, I poured over whatever I could get my hands on via Amnesty International and the Net – reading transcripts, compiling pictures, and details of his capture and treatment.  I have been an Amnesty International member since 1979, but I had never felt this passionate about any person in any action.  I even assisted with a rally and spoke to a very large crowd, not all friendly, and did interviews with TV journalists – something I vowed I would never have the courage to do.  Without my training in the fieldworker program, I do not believe I would have had the skills to assist in planning events both large and small, doing talks to various groups of people.   That event and those that followed have given me the confidence to keep helping on other actions and to push myself further because one person can make a difference and one person can help others accomplish so much more.

    Charlene Scharf
    Chair, Fieldworker Coordination Committee, Amnesty Canada
    Edmonton, AB

    For more information on the Fieldworker program please email:  Lily (Activism Coordinator: Community Groups and Fieldworker Program) or visit