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Members in Action

    February 17, 2021
    young woman on colour holding in front of her a hand-written letter

    In early 2017, I attended an event hosted by Amnesty International Toronto. While attending the event, I was incredibly struck by the idea of being able to help people facing injustices around the world and wanted to get involved myself.

    After continuously attending Amnesty International gatherings throughout the year, I applied for and became a National Youth Organizer for Amnesty International Canada. As an organizer, I have helped plan and facilitate events, such as movie screenings and letter writing sessions, as well as spoken to audiences to inform and engage them in Amnesty campaigns.

    September 25, 2020
    woman with long wavy hair, with glasses, holding a letter in front of her.

    My passion for human rights activism first stemmed from my interest in advocacy and philanthropy at a young age. In my early childhood, up to the age of 11, I was living in my home country, a developing country. During this time, it was not difficult to see the socioeconomic disparities that existed within my community and the injustices that were continually committed against people who didn’t even have a voice. Human rights activism was often interpreted as subversive and activists were often punished for their efforts. For this reason, many people within my community resorted to philanthropy by giving back to those less fortunate than themselves. Growing up my family would donate clothes to charitable organizations and pass out sandwiches and meat to those struggling, particularly during Eid and Ramadan. These experiences instilled in me the importance of using my privilege to support and uplift others.

    August 28, 2020
    abonti with letter in support of rios vivos communities in Colombia

    I was born in the US and raised as most first-generation American children were, with the hope that North America could solve all our problems. But it didn’t take long for my family to realize that this was simply untrue. Hard work rarely ever led to results and whenever it did, my parents were accused of “stealing jobs”. In 2008 my family moved from the US to Canada. It is strange knowing that no matter where you seemed to go, these same experiences follow you around.

    I had always known where I stood when it came to “controversial issues” (still can’t believe that human rights are controversial). It did not feel though that I had the resources or knowledge to object the injustices that were around me, let alone the world.

    July 23, 2020
    Laila taking part in the IG solidarity action with Mothers of Disappeared in Mexico

    My very first introduction to Amnesty International began with questions about the death penalty. In November 2010, Aasia Noreen, a Christian woman from Pakistan, was convicted for blasphemy and sentenced to death. Reading Amnesty's 2011 report on the case gave voice to a reaction I did not have the language for yet. It echoed what I had assumed every human would naturally believe: that the death penalty breaches human rights, the right to life and the right to live free from torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. The case opened my eyes to the many injustice structures that led to her sentence: the prevalent dangers of caste systems, religious persecution, and gender violence.

    June 30, 2020
    Luna holding image of a fish at event in support of Indigenous People and right to clean water

    My passion for human rights started from a very young age. In 5th grade I started my own club for Because I am a Girl which lasted 4 years; the club fundraised enough money to sponsor a young girl in Colombia. I realized I wanted to continue my involvement with non-profit charities and organizations. It wasn’t long after that I found out about Amnesty International. Every year my church hosted a large letter-writing campaign and everyone in the congregation would participate. Once I was old enough, I began to read the case summaries for the campaigns, and I was shocked. Even as an immigrant I had still grown up in the bubble of Canadian privilege. My parents had always been careful to mute the news broadcasts when they started speaking about heavy world issues. Once I broke that bubble of “a perfect world”, I pledged to learn more and educate myself. I realized that the cases Amnesty was petitioning for weren’t stand-alone cases of human rights abuses; they represented a tiny percentage of the hundreds of thousands of human rights abuses happening daily. They were the indicators of a pattern that held hands with corruption and replicated itself time and time again.

    May 21, 2020

    I first discovered Amnesty International when I was in grade 10 after my teacher gave our Civics class a presentation on it. I instantly wanted to get involved, I’ve always been motivated to help others and to do my part to make the world a better place but I didn’t know how to affect that change on my own. I started looking into Amnesty after that and signed up to receive their Urgent Actions and began participating in their campaigns online.

    April 15, 2020
    Monica Romero, National Organizer, AI Canada (ES)

    When I moved to Toronto two years ago, I knew that I wanted to continue volunteering but I wasn’t sure where the best fit for me would be. The majority of my work and volunteer experiences have been rooted in social enterprise and working with individuals to reduce vulnerabilities associated with poverty and gender-based violence. Up until this point, I had focused my efforts primarily on working directly with individuals in my community. After hearing one of my classmates speak about Amnesty International by raising awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada, I was interested in learning more about the organization and advocacy work overall.

    March 18, 2020

    Following my experience in high school as a member of a human rights initiative created to raise awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada, I knew that I wanted to further my dedication to human rights advocacy and activism, and that Amnesty International would provide me with a credible platform to accomplish this.

    Since joining Amnesty International, my human rights focus has expanded to include efforts supporting the work of Earth and Land Defenders in Latin America and Canada. As a member of the Amnesty International Toronto Business&Human Rights and Indigenous Rights Specialized Team, I have been involved in the organization of various events such as a screening of the short documentary “Uprivers” which highlighted the environmental and social impacts of the Mount Polley Mining Disaster in British Colombia. We also organized the “Indigenous Issues Are Election Issues” event in 2019, where individuals from the GTA were invited to write letters to federal election candidates, urging them to make the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples a priority if elected.

    March 03, 2020

    On January 21, 2017 women and allies around the world marched in protest of American President Donald Trump’s election. For some, the Women’s March represented an opportunity to demonstrate on a large-scale their rejection of the plethora of misogynistic comments and actions made by the 45th President of the United States. However, for others, particularly Black, Indigenous, transgender, non-binary and women of colour, the Women’s March marked yet another instance of toxic white feminism. The lack of intersectionality has rightfully created cause for concern. As we approach International Women’s Day on March 8, two members of Amnesty’s National Youth Action and Advisory Committee (NYAAC) reflect on their participation in the Women’s March.

    February 21, 2020

    In my life I have always been driven by a strong desire to seek out justice that governments and institutions have failed to provide and this is what brought me to be involved with Amnesty International. What I love about Amnesty is that the organization is a powerful international network made up of grassroots activists and that it does not accept funding for its human rights research and campaigning work from any government.  This principled approach is what has made Amnesty International a trusted voice on human rights for so many decades.

    February 03, 2020

    I am a first-year student at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus, with a great passion for human rights. My interest in Amnesty International and community involvement was inspired by my mother. She worked with the UNHCR for many years and would bring home stories about refugees and their path to finding safety. Those stories had a huge impact on my life, and I developed a desire to help those who are in need of justice and safety.

    I am currently a National Youth Organizer with Amnesty International Canada and have volunteered with Amnesty in the GTA for over three years now. With every event and meeting I attend at Amnesty, I learn a lot about global issues and also meet inspiring people.

    January 24, 2020

     

    We are a collection of stories. As a writer, I try to capture narratives in a way that suspends time while still staying within its boundaries. Some have told me that it is difficult to create new stories, that the current ones have already been reused, and that they are tired of reading. But on a chilly December afternoon, I wove through the narrow streets of Toronto and joined a group of people who care, love, and treasure the numerous narratives still beating on this planet.

    I stumbled into the registration area, a few minutes shy of 1 pm. Strings of fairy lights and quiet bright lamps illuminated a set of posters on issues such as unjust sentences, unreasonable jail terms, and tragic deaths. Flash. A photo: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. Flash. National Youth Organizers showing support for cases that resonate with them. Flash. Flash. Flash. These moments must be remembered. I vow to help people remember.  

    February 02, 2018

    Taibeh Abbasi is a teenage girl that was born in Iran to Afghan parents and fled to Norway with her mother and brothers in 2012. The Norwegian government will be putting her and her family at grave risk of serious human rights violations if it goes ahead with plans to return them to Afghanistan, a country that she has never even visited.

    Taibeh goes to school and dreams of becoming a doctor. If she is forced to return to Afghanistan her aspirations will be completely destroyed. The Norwegian government has justified the family’s deportation by claiming that Afghanistan is safe for returns – but it is not.

    However Taibeh is not alone, her classmates at school in Trondheim, led a campaign to stop their return. There was massive support from over 1,000 high school students that protested against the government’s threat to deport one of their classmates. Now Amnesty youth activists in Canada and from around the world are speaking out for Taibeh and her family. 

    May 21, 2017
    Dawn Michael and Johann Cooper get set to welcome guests for AmnesTEA

    Dawn Michael and Johann Cooper get set to welcome guests for AmnesTEA

     

    Group 63 members decided to try an AmnesTEA on the Victoria Day weekend. Johann booked the gym at Trinity St Paul’s church in Toronto and made sure the congregation were invited to drop by after the church service.

    Johann, Dawn and Marilyn baked treats, put the coffee and kettle on, and laid out petitions, postcards and baskets for donations. Success! About 63 people signed a postcard demanding a fair trial for Huseyin Celil - a Canadian detained in China. The group also added their names to another action urging Canada to abolish the Designated Country of Origin list to allow refugee claimants a hearing based on their unique circumstance. We left with about $63 in donations and an invitation to make this a more regular event!

    May 19, 2017
    Amnesty activists with One Fire

    By: Ishaan Chandok

    On April 22nd, 2017, a day accompanied with beautiful weather, the group One Fire invited Amnesty activists from the Business & Human Rights/Indigenous Rights Team to join them for a concert at Christie Pits Park in Toronto. Under the message “We Are One”, artists came together in this collective movement to deliver music based on topics such as peace, love, and freedom. The focus of the event was Earth Day 2017, and between musical guests, Amnesty International volunteers were given time at the mic to speak to the audience. 

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