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    February 16, 2018

    AN OPEN LETTER TO AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SUPPORTERS

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

    February 12, 2018

    Amnesty International is pressing the Canadian government to take decisive action on human rights at home and on the world stage in 2018. The call comes as we release our annual Human Rights Agenda for Canada, pressing the federal government to build on progress seen in 2017 while addressing ongoing serious human rights shortcomings.

    February 06, 2018
    First Nations child holding message 'I want to grow up in my community'

    “…a broken system that is harming children and removing them from their communities.” - The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal describing the federally-funded child welfare system in First Nations communities, January 2018.

    Twelve years ago, a landmark federally-funded study concluded that persistent government underfunding was denying children and families in First Nations communities essential supports available in all other communities in Canada.

    Two years ago, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal concluded that the underfunding of services for First Nations children had directly contributed to shockingly large numbers of children being removed from their families and communities because less disruptive alternatives were not available. The Tribunal called for an immediate end to this discrimination.

    Last week, the Tribunal once again concluded that, despite much publicized increases in federal funding, the federal government has failed to end discrimination against First Nations children.

    January 17, 2018

    The Canadian government has just announced the creation of a human rights ombudsperson. This will help position Canada as a global leader in business and human rights.

    For several years, Amnesty International Canada and the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability have been working hard to convince the Canadian government that a human rights ombudsperson is urgently needed. The creation of A Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise will help ensure that our country is finally “Open for Justice”. 

    >>> Learn more about the announcement here. 

    Now is the time to celebrate!

    1. SHARE THE GOOD NEWS 

    Spread the good news on social media by sharing our Facebook or Twitter posts. 

    January 16, 2018

    Have a Heart Day is an annual appeal for all First Nations kids to have the opportunity to have a healthy and safe childhood. Lead by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, Have a Heart Day calls on the federal government to end the widespread and systemic underfunding of basic services that First Nations children and families need and deserve, from safe, quality schools to culturally-appropriate family supports and services.

    Individual actions and community events take place on and around February 14th (Valentines Day). Last year at least 70 Have a Heart Day events were held across Canada and more than 6500 Valentines cards and messages were sent to Parliamentarians to show that Canadians care about fairness and justice for First Nations children.

    Amnesty International is proud that our members have supported this appeal each year through events and individual letter-writing. Here's how you can get involved.

    January 15, 2018

    Over the past year, women, transgender, and non-binary people around the world have posted online their personal stories of gender-based discrimination and violence, claiming their power by telling their stories in their own words. People have globally united against hatred and fear and in support of gender justice and equality through women’s marches. Discussions in feminist and social justice circles about how to create an inclusive, feminist future are now permeating everyday conversations in public, work places, and the corridors of political power.

    But not everyone has the privilege to safely share their story online. Not every survivor wants this burden placed upon them. And much work remains to create transformative societal, legislative, and judicial changes that address the multiple and intersecting root causes of gender inequality. How will Amnesty promote transformative change in support of gender equality on International Women's Day?

    December 19, 2017

    On December 15, Amnesty International sent an open letter to the Ontario provincial government and Ontario’s donor transplant agency calling for the province to ensure non-discriminatory access to healthcare, including organ transplants, for all Ontario residents. This is the first time that Amnesty International has commented on access to organ transplant services in Canada, and we wanted to publicly respond to some of the questions we have received to help advance discussion on this issue.

    December 18, 2017
    Write for Rights event Toronto 2017

    By Sareema Husain

    #WriteForRights, Amnesty International’s biggest local event of the year, took over the Centre for Social Innovation Annex on December 10.

    Every year, people from more than 180 countries take part in the day-long marathon to write, tweet, email and sign petitions urging governments around the world to release prisoners of conscience and protect human rights defenders. Mary Macrae has been attending the event for years. “There’s always this question if it really works,” says Macrae. “It does.”

    December 12, 2017
    Yellow stakes expressing support for Treaty rights

    “The fundamental issue is First Nations in the region have entrenched constitutional rights. Not just the requirement for consultation and accommodation, which we always hear about when we’re talking about resource projects. But they have entrenched constitutional rights to practice hunting and fishing as before, And that’s going to be violated by this dam.” - John Horgan, May 8, 2014

    In announcing his government's decision to allow continued construction of a mega-project he once opposed, BC Premier John Horgan said that construction was already past "the point of no return." That's blatently false. Here's why:

    November 29, 2017
    No Life for a Child

    On 6 November 2017, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale released new directions aimed to keep children out of Canada's immigration detention system.

    “The key objective of the Ministerial Direction is to – as much as humanly possible – keep children out of detention, and keep families together. The Ministerial Direction makes it clear that the Best Interests of the Child must be given primary consideration. This will be achieved by actively and continuously seeking alternatives to detention when unconditional release is inappropriate.”

    The directive is welcome; detention is never in the best interests of children and it is shocking that children are detained for immigration purposes in Canada, even for short periods of time.

    Amnesty International and many other human rights groups in Canada have actively campaigned to keep children out of immigration detention. Several thousand Amnesty International members and supporters signed petitions and called on the Minister to stop detaining children for immigration purposes.

    October 27, 2017

    One of the first acts of the recently elected provincial government of British Columbia was to order an independent review of the economic case for and against the massive Site C hydro-electric project. After releasing an interim report in September, the BC Utilities Commission held a series of public meetings across the province. The final report is due November 1 after which the decision on the fate of the project - and the Peace River Valley - will rest with the provincial government.

    Gary Ockenden, the Vice President of Amnesty International Canada shared this note from a hearing that he attended:

    The Chair and three Commissioners of the BC Utilities Commission came to Nelson, BC on September 26th and held a public hearing on the Site C project. I was fortunate enough to get a five minute slot to present to them as a BC ratepayer.

    October 27, 2017
    Letters to a Prisoner (Owlkids 2017) is a wordless children’s book inspired by the Write for Rights campaign - created by Montreal author Jacques Goldstyn. The book illustrates the power of hope and the written word. The Youth and Activism Team has been actively collaborating in partnership with Owlkids Books to make this book available to the Amnesty Canada community.

    Letters to a Prisoner will provide a fun and engaging way for young people (ages 6 and up) to participate with and promote human rights and the Write for Rights campaign. 

    October 11, 2017

    “Our economy walks on the land and swims in the waters”

    In a one-room, circular building, modelled on a traditional Secwepemc winter pit house, water defender Jacinda Mack stands before the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and describes the effects of colonialism on her people, the Secwepemc of British Columbia. The consequences of more than 150 years of government assault on Indigenous identity and self-determination are personally exhausting, she says. However, her love of her people and the waters of her territory motivate her to keep fighting for justice.

    October 11, 2017
    Alex Neve (left), Alex Xavier (centre), and Jackie Hansen (right) in Parliament when Bill C-16 on gender identity was tabled in June 2016.

    In Conversation with Amnesty International’s LGBTI Rights Coordinator Alexander Xavier

    Ottawa-based Alexander Xavier is one of Amnesty International Canada’s two LGBTI Coordinators. He has served on Amnesty’s board of directors, and has been an Amnesty supporter since he was in high school. In October 2017, we had a chat with Alexander about his long history with Amnesty and what motivates him to continue so fervantly advocating for LGBTI rights in Canada and around the world.

    Alex, how did you first get involved with Amnesty?

    In high school I became acquainted with Amnesty as I learned about the death penalty. I joined an Amnesty student group, later attended Amnesty’s Human Rights College, and got involved with Amnesty’s student and youth program.

    September 29, 2017
    Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is too important to take place in a piecemeal or haphazard way. 

    That’s why Amnesty International has joined with Indigenous Peoples' organizations and other partners to call on the federal government to embrace and build on the framework offered by a private members bill, Bill C-262, that is now before Parliament.

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