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Canada

    July 08, 2019

    “There are and always have been obvious flaws in a governing system that is designed to maintain a status quo and deny rights to people who power rejects. The process of bringing C-262 along the legislative path has highlighted this for me.” 
                       – MP Romeo Saganash, author of Bill C-262 

    Amnesty International is appalled by the fact that a crucial piece of human rights legislation will not become law in Canada because of the procedural tactics of a few Senators.

    Bill C-262, a bill setting out a framework to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, was passed by the House of Commons more than a year ago.

    We are confident that if Bill C-262 had come to a vote in the Senate, it would have been adopted into law. However, a handful of Conservative Senators were able use delaying tactics to prevent such a vote taking place before the Senate adjourned last month.

    This happened despite the fact that all parties in the House of Commons supported a unanimous motion calling Bill C-262 a critical piece of legislation and urging the Senate to pass the Bill into law.

    June 21, 2019

    Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people in Canada experience staggeringly high levels of violence, and for decades, government failed to acknowledge and address this human rights crisis. Indigenous women’s organizations, grassroots activists, violence survivors, and the families and loved ones of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people long called for a national inquiry to compel government to investigate and take urgent action to end the violence. Amnesty International advocated alongside Indigenous partners in calling for a national inquiry.

    June 15, 2019

    Young people from Grassy Narrows are travelling to Toronto for a massive rally on June 20th to focus attention to urgency of addressing the crisis of mercury poisoning facing their First Nation.

    Amnesty International is urging its members and supporters to do all they can to help this vital and timely campaign.

    The people of Grassy Narrows are living with the devastating consequences of a half century of mercury contamination of their rivers and lakes. The harm they’ve experienced, including erosion of culture, loss of livelihoods, and one of the worst community health crises anywhere in Canada, has been made so much worse by decades of government denial and inaction. 

    Last month, federal Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan visited Grassy Narrows but failed to deliver on a long promised treatment centre for mercury survivors. 

    This stalling and inaction is all the more shocking in light of the fact that two of the United Nations independent human rights advisors, the expert of health and the expert on toxic wastes, have now both urged Canada to take action on the mercury crisis.

    June 14, 2019

    Quebec Native Women was founded in 1974 to fight sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act. Forty-five years later, this discrimination persists. Amnesty International spoke with Quebec Native Women’s Legal and Policy analyst Éloïse Décoste to learn more about steps her organization is taking to end sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act once and for all. Here’s what she had to say.

    TAKE ACTION NOW For people who aren’t familiar with the issue, can you please tell me how the Indian Act discriminates against Indigenous women?

    The Indian Act determines who is consider an Indian in the eyes of the government. Historically, an Indian* would be defined as a man, his wife, and his children. When an Indian woman married a man without Indian status, she lost her own status and could not pass her status on to her children. This was the situation until 1985.

    June 07, 2019

    June 2019 marks the 52nd anniversary of Israel’s capture of the West Bank and Gaza Strip during a war with its neighbours, and the beginning of its occupation of Palestinian territory. Today, over 600,000 Jewish-Israeli settlers are living on occupied Palestinian land and are afforded protections and benefits, of which over 4.9 million Palestinians living in the same territory do not have access to. This is the direct result of a discriminatory system of laws and policies that ensure that Palestinians are not afforded the same rights or services as Israeli settlers.

    For 52 years, hundreds of thousands of hectares of Palestinian land have been appropriated and exploited by Israel. For 52 years, tens of thousands of Palestinian homes and structures have been demolished in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), resulting in the displacement of thousands of Palestinians. The wanton destruction of property and the forcible transfer of civilians in the occupied territory are both war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. 

    May 27, 2019

    By Alex Neve      May. 22, 2019

    With only five sitting weeks to go, Parliamentarians face high expectations on bills on Indigenous languages and rights, environmental protection, and more.

    NDP MP Romeo Saganash introduced Bill C-262 in 2016 and is still waiting for it to pass. It would set a framework for implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

    There is an enormous amount of consequential human rights legislation approaching the parliamentary finish line. The time to get it across shrinks daily.

    May 03, 2019

    All around the world, Pride marches and events are held to celebrate hard won rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people and to continue demanding equality. But in many parts of the world, Prides are not allowed to take place or face backlash, repression and violence. And many of the activists working to ensure LGBTI rights are protected, respected, and upheld face harassment, criminalization, and violence.

    This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the uprising that saw the mobilization of LGBTI people against police harassment and brutality in New York City. The Stonewall riots are now celebrated worldwide as a cornerstone of the liberation movements for LGBTI communities, and led to the founding of the first Pride marches in the United States.

    Join Amnesty International this summer as we participate in Pride festivals in Canada and around the world alongside LGBTI partner organizations to take action in support of LGBTI rights and demonstrate solidarity with LGBTI human rights defenders.

    May 02, 2019

    On Friday, May 3rd, students across Canada and around the world will strike for the climate and call on governments to take urgent action to stop climate change.

    Amnesty International is in solidarity with the climate strike and warns that the failure of governments to address climate change may amount to the greatest inter-generational human rights violation in history. Climate change affects the rights to life, health, housing, water and sanitation, among others, and it disproportionately affects those who are already marginalized or subject to discrimination.

    Amnesty’s 2019 Human Rights Agenda calls on Canada to address the human rights implications of climate change by, among other measures:

    Ending the dependence on fossil fuels by 2040 Ending fossil fuel subsidies Promoting a just transition to a zero-carbon economy Ensuring that the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous communities for any new energy projects is respected

    Climate change is a human rights issue. As Amnesty develops and deepens our work on climate justice, we need you to take action and call on Canada to stop climate change.

    May 01, 2019

    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.

    April 25, 2019
    Earth defenders and garment workers are suffering staggering human rights abuses: so why has Canada's new corporate accountability watchdog been de-fanged? 

    On April 8, Canada's Minister for International Trade Diversification announced the appointment of the new Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE). The position was first announced to great fanfare 15 months ago, but sat vacant until Calgary lawyer Sheri Meyerhoffer was appointed. Unfortunately, we have learned that the Ombudsperson's mandate and powers are much weaker than promised.

    The most startling difference is that the Ombudsperson is not currently imbued with investigatory powers such as the ability to compel documents and testimony from parties to complaints. In order for the Ombudsperson to be effective and to prevent future human rights abuses in the context of Canadian extractives and garment projects, the office must have these powers.

    April 23, 2019

    Canada is on the brink of a breakthrough to protect the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. But urgent action is needed to ensure that this historic opportunity isn’t lost.

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada called the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples “the framework for reconciliation.” Last year, the House of Commons passed Bill C-262, a private members bill requiring the federal government to finally move ahead with the work of implementing the Declaration.

    Good news: On May 16, the Senate voted to move the Bill to Committee for study. This is the next step on the path to a final vote. Public support for the Declaration and Bill C-262 is clearly having an effect. Thank you to everyone who has sent emails or made phone calls!

    Unfortunately, however, passage of the Bill is still far from certain. Time is running out in this session of Parliament. And private members bills are particularly vulnerable to delaying tactics. If Bill C-262 isn’t passed by the Senate before this session of Parliament concludes, this crucial opportunity to advance the work of reconciliation will be lost.

    April 17, 2019
    Amnesty Launches New "Call the Minister" Action for Justice for Mount Polley Mine Disaster

    April 08, 2019
    Ombudsperson announced, but government fails to make good on promises

    In January 2018, the government of Canada committed to creating a Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by Canadian extractives and garment sector enterprises. Today, it announced an Ombudsperson has been hired, however, without the necessary investigatory powers to do the job. In today's announcement, the government promised that those powers would be incorporated into the role after further study.

    After15 months of delays, and after years of courageous testimony from human rights defenders about the terrible abuses they suffered in the context of Canadian mines, actions speak louder than words. We are deeply disappointed by today's announcement and vow to carry on Amnesty's campaign for a fully independent Ombudsperson with investigatory powers. 

    April 02, 2019

    On April 3rd, the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre (DEWC) in Vancouver released Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, a report based on the lived experience, leadership, and expertise of Indigenous survivors, which “urgently shifts the lens from pathologizing poverty towards amplifying resistance to and healing from all forms of gendered colonial violence.”

    Amnesty International had the privilege of speaking with three of the women involved in producing the report: Carol Martin, Priscillia Tait (Gitxsan/Wetsuweten), and Harsha Walia. Here’s what they shared with us.

    READ THE REPORT

    What motivated you create this report?

    March 10, 2019

    Water defenders living in the shadow of the Mount Polley mine say their fight to protect the waters in and around Quesnel Lake is not over, despite Imperial Metals’ announcement that it will suspend operations at the mine in May, 2019 until global copper prices improve. This is why:

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