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Canada

    May 11, 2018

    The federal government ignored a direct question about the Site C dam and Treaty rights violations during a review of Canada’s human rights record earlier today at the United Nations in Geneva.

    In a question submitted in advance of the session, the United States government asked whether the federal and provincial governments were “aware of the alleged Treaty 8 violations associated with the Site C Dam… prior to progressing with construction?” During the oral hearing today, the US representative again pointed out that “allegations of Treaty 8 violations have surfaced amid construction of the Site C dam.”

    The Canadian delegation to the review, including Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould, made a number of statements about Canada’s commitments to respect the human rights of Indigenous peoples - but did not respond to the question about the Site C dam.

    Canada’s silence in the face of a direct question from a close ally speaks volumes about Canada’s failure to put its human rights commitments into practice when it comes to the Site C dam.

    May 04, 2018
    Land defenders in opposition to the Muskrat Falls dam on a hunger strike

    It should be an easy decision.

    Expert scientific studies have found that completion of Labrador’s Muskrat Falls dam as currently planned would release disastrously high levels of mercury into downstream waters, threatening the health, food security and cultural integrity of Inuit communities who rely in fish and seal.

    However, these same studies have also concluded that the threat could be greatly reduced by removing soil from the planned reservoir to greatly reduce the amount of methyl mercury resulting from decomposition.

    Now, the majority of members of an advisory committee struck by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador have made the same recommendation. 

    The province now has a choice. Either scrap the project or make the necessary changes. Either way, the lives and safety of downstream communities must ensured.

    May 02, 2018

    A group of Amnesty volunteers will deliver a big box of letters to Microsoft Canada's headquarters at the end of May.

    Help them fill the box with letters to Microsoft! Continue reading for more information. 

    Amnesty is concerned about the strong possibility that there is child labour in Microsoft’s supply chain. Amnesty researchers have discovered that cobalt, a metal used in the rechargeable batteries of portable electronics such as laptops, tablets and cell phones, is being mined by children and adults under hazardous condvolunitions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

    Amnesty researchers traced the cobalt supply chain and determined that the cobalt is very likely used in batteries in products sold by Microsoft, Samsung, Apple and others. We urged these companies, and others, to investigate their cobalt supply chains, publish the names of their smelters, and address any human rights issues, in accordance with international business and human rights guidelines.

    May 01, 2018

    Every May, people across Canada take action for mining justice.

    This year, we will continue to push for greater corporate accountability, while we celebrate some progress. 

    The Canadian government announced in January 2018 that Canada will be the first country in the world to have an independent Ombudsperson for responsible business enterprise.

    This means that people who have been harmed by the overseas activities of Canadian mining, oil, gas and garment companies will be able to submit their complaints to an independent ombudsperson for investigation. Effectively implemented, this could be a game-changer -however, the Ombudsperson office is not in place yet and some of the elements that will determine how the Ombudsperson’s office will operate have yet to be defined. Communities continue to experience human rights violations, even after mines are closed. 

    In order to be credible and effective, it is vital that the ombudsperson be free from political and corporate interference. It is also essential that the Ombudsperson be empowered to conduct effective investigations and gather evidence that may be in a company’s possession.

    April 26, 2018

    "People shouldn’t have to go to court to claim their rights" – federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, speaking at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, April 2018

    In the coming weeks, two governments that have repeatedly promised to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples will be in court to defend a massively destructive resource development project that they approved without ever once considering whether it would violate Canada’s Treaty obligations to the affected First Nations.

    The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are asking the court to halt construction of the Site C dam which would flood more than 100 km of the Peace River Valley and its tributaries. 

    The environmental assessment of the project found that its impacts on First Nations cultural sites and way of life would be serve, permanent and irreversible. The United Nations’ top anti-racism body, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has called for a halt to the project as a violation of the rights of Indigenous peoples.

    April 23, 2018

    Whether you identify as LGBTI or as an ally, you can help bring Amnesty’s human rights message to a Pride festival near you this Summer. Pride is an excellent opportunity to show your solidarity with LGBTI communities in Canada and around the world, and take action towards creating a world where people of all sexual orientations and gender identities can live in dignity and safety.

    Here are just a few ways to get involved in Pride activities in your community this Summer.

    MARCH WITH AMNESTY IN YOUR LOCAL PRIDE PARADE

    Reach out to other Amnesty supporters in your community and organize a Pride marching contingent. Contact Amnesty’s LGBTI coordinators for information on swag to distribute, resources to use, and support in registering to march. To have maximum impact, try to have at least 5 people march with you.

    April 23, 2018

    In the midst of a global crackdown on LGBTI rights, your action is needed more than ever this Pride season to help ensure the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people in Canada and around the world are respected, protected, and fulfilled.

    Pride festivals are held in communities large and small across Canada from May through September, and Pride season unofficially starts on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT). The Pride movement traces its origins to a riot at New York City’s Stonewall Inn in response to years of police harassment, raids, and violence against members of the LGBTI community. Pride remains a call to action to ensure that LGBTI people can live free from violence and discrimination.

    Take action with Amnesty at Pride festivals across Canada this summer.

    April 19, 2018

    On August 4, 2014, a section of the Mount Polley copper mine tailing pond blew out, releasing 25 million cubic metres of mine tailings and waste water into pristine Quesnel Lake in central British Columbia. As a result, parts of the crystal clear lake filled with thick, grey mining sludge and Hazeltine Creek was destroyed. Mine tailings, which contain arsenic, cadmium, mercury and selenium, cannot be safely removed and currently sit at the bottom of Quesnel Lake and along Hazeltine Creek. 

    April 10, 2018

    This is part 5 of 6 of the blog series: 25 years working for human rights in the Niger Delta

    Written by Amnesty's Businses and Human Rights volunteer, Ian Heide

    Confronting Shell Oil … Again!

    Three years after the ground-breaking report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on oil pollution in Ogoniland, the people of Ogoniland continued to suffer the effects of fifty years of an oil industry that has polluted their land, air and water. The oil company Shell and the Nigerian Government both failed to implement recommendations made in the UNEP report and put an end to the abuse of the communities’ rights to food, water and a life free of pollution.

    The 2011 UNEP Report made 27 recommendations, including the establishment of a $1 billion fund for the clean-up and compensation. In August 2014, Amnesty issued a report titled “No Progress”, with Amnesty's assessment that NONE of the recommendations had been completed. The Government of Nigeria and Shell had taken almost no meaningful action to implement any of the recommendations.

    April 06, 2018
    Amnesty Media Award Winners 2018

    Amnesty International Canada was thrilled to host its 23rd annual Media Awards event on April 4, honouring eight Canadian journalists for their exceptional reporting on profoundly important human rights issues of our time. We are so grateful to Gillian Findlay, past Amnesty Media Award winner and co-host of the CBC’s premier investigative programme The Fifth Estate, for hosting the packed event in Toronto’s Gardiner Museum.

    This year’s event came at a critical moment for journalism, as reporters and news outlets in Canada and further afield find themselves increasingly under pressure in a world of “fake news,” changing media landscapes and outright attempts to harass, intimidate or suppress journalists in many countries. So we were especially honoured to take this important occasion to express our deep appreciation to these exceptional journalists who have gone to tremendous lengths to tell stories which matter so very, very much. These are some highlights from the remarkable evening.

    April 04, 2018

    This is part 4 of 6 of the blog series: 25 years working for human rights in the Niger Delta

    Written by Amnesty's Businses and Human Rights volunteer, Ian Heide

    United Nations Confirms Massive Pollution

    In 2011-2012, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) confirmed the massive scale of pollution in its landmark report based on a scientific assessment of one region, Ogoniland. The report particularly highlighted how pollution has created a public health emergency in the Niger Delta as a result of high levels of contamination of people’s sources of water.

    According to UNEP, oil seeped below the surface layers of soil and contaminated the groundwater in Ogoniland. The report also referred to increased concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbons in the air and drinking water, which could lead to long-term health issues.

    April 03, 2018

    We all want to be good, responsible people, don't we? But sometimes doing the right thing in our daily lives is made next-to-impossible by forces well beyond us. At these times, we need to work together, creatively, to do what's right. 

    Amnesty International's palm oil campaign gives you a chance to help fix a serious problem hidden in your breakfast cereal and possibly in the toothpaste you used this morning. Palm oil and palm oil ingredients are now in half of all consumer products, yet the harvesting of this product is leading to the exploitation of children, and human rights abuses of women and workers. 

    We have a plan to stop these abuses, and it starts with your signature.

    April 03, 2018
    Urgent Action workshop participants participate in an exercise to get to now one another and the structure of the network

    By Maitri Gupta, Urgent Action member in the GTA.

    The Urgent Action Network (UAN) personifies the famous saying the pen is mightier than the sword. It connects a global community of human rights defenders that have, over the years, used their words in letters to protect individuals from human rights violations. In Canada alone, the UA Network writes thousand of letters a year, and I am proud to have joined this community recently. As a Canadian, I have a voice that can be heard. Writing personal letters allows me to convey my message with more effort and therefore, sincerity. Writing to authorities is a powerful tool for accountability. Each time I write, the stories of the people that I am trying to help become more memorable. This is what truly motivated me to take that additional step outside of just signing petitions that I would often forget I had even seen. 

    March 21, 2018

    “You look at the lake, it looks good, it looks clean, the fish look all right. How to believe that something like that could turn against you?” – former Grassy Narrows Chief Steve Fobister Sr. quoted in the Toronto Star

     

    Steve Fobister. Bill Fobister. Judy Da Silva. These are some of the leaders and activists from Grassy Narrows who have played a critical in shaping and informing Amnesty International’s longstanding campaign for justice for that First Nation.

    They are all, in every sense of the word, human rights champions.

    They also, all three, suffer from the devastating, debilitating impacts of mercury poisoning.

    And they are not alone.

    March 14, 2018

    This is part 1 of 6 of the blog series: 25 years working for human rights in the Niger Delta

    Written by Amnesty's Businses and Human Rights volunteer, Ian Heide

    On November 10, 1995, Amnesty International released this statement: “AI has learned with dismay that Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight other Ogoni supporters were executed on 10 November 1995.”

    The world was shocked. The trial was widely criticized by human rights organizations and the governments of other states The Commonwealth of Nations, which had pleaded for clemency, suspended Nigeria's membership. The United States, the United Kingdom, and the EU all implemented sanctions—but not on petroleum.

    What was the role of Shell oil in this? And how has the situation evolved since then? This six-part blog series explores the human rights impact of oil pollution in the Niger Delta, the mounting evidence against Shell, the courageous activism of affected communities,  and the on-going fight for justice.

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