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Activism Guide

    March 30, 2020

    The climate crisis is the greatest human rights challenge of our time.

    That’s why Amnesty International is prioritizing advocacy and activism to support the vital efforts of grassroots movements, led by Indigenous peoples, seeking to protect a healthy environment for all.

    The situation simply could not be more urgent – or more dangerous.

    March and April provide important moments to raise our voices, build connections with others, and together press for action by decision makers:

    March 14 is International Day of Action for Rivers March 22 is World Water Day April 22 is Earth Day

    Together with environment defenders in Canada and abroad, we’re developing a variety of ways to take action, starting on March 14 and continuing through April 22. 

    Mark your calendars and join us to make an impact!

    Revisit this page at the beginning of February to see our menu of issues and actions. Also watch for the dates of webinars, offering information and opportunities for discussion.

    Thank you for planning to participate in this important activism.

    March 11, 2020
    Quesnel Lake/Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe: a Love Story 

    Christine McLean is ready to retire. After running a successful electrical business in Calgary for the last 20 years, the Kamloops, BC born and raised McLean planned to move back to BC with her husband, Eric. In 2014 they began laying plans to spend their retirement years living in what Christine describes as, “paradise” – a gorgeous log cabin on a large, treed lot perched above the stunningly beautiful Mitchell Bay on Quesnel Lake. For Christine, it is a place for the spirit to rest and the heart to soar.

    For Secwepemc and Nuxalk activist Nuskmata (Jacinda Mack), Quesnel Lake is part of her cultural heritage. Raised in the northern Secwepemc community of Xat’sull, Nuskamata spent her youth out on the land and eventually came to work for her Secwepemc community as the Natural Resources manager. Her mother taught her that for Indigenous peoples, “our economy walks on the land and swims in the waters.” She calls the relationship between her community and the land a ‘love story’. 

    March 01, 2020

    March 8th, International Women’s Day, is both a day of protest and celebration. It’s a time to reflect on feminist achievements over the past year as well as a time to take action to end the violence and discrimination that women, transgender, and non-binary people continue to experience across Canada and around the world because of who they are.

    Marches, film festivals, public events, and other activities are held on March 8th and throughout March to mark International Women’s Day. We encourage you to support feminist movements—particularly those led by Indigenous, Black, and other marginalized women, transgender, and non-binary people—by participating in International Women’s Day events. Ask organizers how Amnesty can support events, and consider having an Amnesty table with petitions and other actions.

    February 29, 2020


    The Canadian justice system is fraught with racism that disproportionately impacts Black people and communities across the country, resulting in racial profiling, harsher sentencing, mistreatment in prison, denial of services, and other injustices which can be compounded for people with intersecting identities (e.g. Black Muslims, Black 2SLGBTQ folks, etc.) On March 21, 2020 — the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination — Amnesty International Canada will raise awareness and advocate for the elimination of racial discrimination in policing.


    Carding is when police officers stop, question, and document individuals without any evidence that they have been involved in, or have knowledge of, an offence. Bias and stereotyping play into the officers’ decisions of who to stop and why, which affects many racialized groups, but especially Black people. 

    January 01, 2020

    By Serisha Iyar, Amnesty International Canada Youth Fellow

    Over the past year AIC(ES) has taken steps to begin a full and proper implementation of our National Youth Strategy. Part of this includes changing our four-month youth internship into a two-year full-time fellowship position.

    As the first ever Youth Fellow at Amnesty my role is dedicated to advancing the diverse perspectives, ideas and concerns of young people across the movement. I am eager and excited to advocate for radical change and ensure young people are at the centre of Amnesty’s work while approaching human rights through intersectional and decolonized lenses.

    I graduated from McGill University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and minor in World Religions. In October 2019 I joined Amnesty in Ottawa after having spent time at three other non-profit organizations and bringing experience in government relations, public policy and lobbying.

    January 01, 2020

    On 17 September 2019, Canada joined the UN Arms Trade Treaty, an important international agreement which aims to promote greater responsibility among countries that trade in weapons. The ATT is now legally binding on 105 countries, a represents a great advancement in international law.

    On the very same day that Canada became officially bound by the ATT, Global Affairs Canada officials signed off on a memorandum to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, providing an “update” on the situation of Saudi export permit.  The officials could not “identify any existing permits or pending applications that would be of concern.”

    December 31, 2019

    During 2018, Amnesty International took a close look at our work in the Americas and specifically our advocacy for the human rights of Indigenous Peoples. Our work around the rights of Indigenous Peoples has grown from 6 cases in 2007 to 38 cases in 2018. Although, we still tend to prioritize work on individual civil and political rights cases, there is a clear ongoing effort to respond to the complexity of the problems and agendas Indigenous Peoples face. This evolution of our work has benefited enormously from long-term relationships with Indigenous communities and people.

    The complexity and historical depth of human rights violations, and the dynamics of the communities and organizations of Indigenous Peoples, require careful relationship building and the implementation of long-term strategies to create real change in the face of ongoing colonization.

    In September 2019, AI Canada hired a new Indigenous Rights Campaign Advisor, Ana Collins, who is working to establish a Circle of Indigenous Knowledge Keepers who will guide the work of the section in our continued defense of the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    December 30, 2019

    When territorial acknowledgments were first included in events organized by settler communities, they were powerful statements of the ongoing presence of Indigenous people and of Indigenous history, surprising and maybe even unwelcome, in settler spaces. They were intended to provoke questions and recentre Indigenous ways of being and thinking.

    Why is this important?

    Indigenous Peoples have been clear that all Indigenous economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights derive from their connection to and use of lands, waters and territories. This means that unlike settler Canadian understandings of land rights as being merely connected to individual freedoms and economic production or assets, Indigenous understandings of land rights relate territory to self-determination, identity, spirituality and religion, language, culture and collective responsibilities.

    December 29, 2019

    Alarming media reports throughout 2019 of melting ice sheets and sea levels rising faster than predicted, forest fires burning out of control in the US and Australia, and the right to breathe under threat in Pakistan have made it abundantly clear that the climate crisis requires ambitious, urgent action by governments and industry.

    To substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, a rapid shift toward cleaner technologies is essential. And it is of critical importance that these new technologies do not negatively impact human rights. Electric vehicles, for example, can help reduce pollution from fossil fuels. But these vehicles require lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, and every stage of the battery lifecycle, from mineral extraction to disposal, carries human rights and environmental risks.

    December 27, 2019

    The youth of Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) First Nation are demanding the Canadian government keep its promises to finally address the mercury crisis in their community. Because of government inaction for 50 years, generations of young Indigenous people have grown up with devastating health problems and the loss of their cultural traditions like fishing and time on the land.

    To help amplify their urgent call, the youth-led campaign for mercury justice was one of the focal cases of last month's global Write for Rights campaign, marking the beginning of a year-long campaign to mobilize Amnesty members and supporters in Canada and around the world. Grassy Narrows youth were one of ten global cases focused on young human rights defenders leading the charge for change in their communities. More than 400,000 letters of support from around the world called for justice for Grassy Narrows and contributed to the successful signing of an agreement to build a mercury care home. 

    Highlights from the Write for Rights 2019 campaign:

    December 07, 2019

    Today, a greater percentage of First Nations children are being taken away from their families than at the height of the residential school era. This is happening because their families may not have the resources to meet all their needs, and because child welfare services in First Nations communities also don’t have the resources that are urgently needed to support these families.

    At the heart of the problem is the fact that the federal government's budget for children’s services in First Nations communities is at least 22% less per child than what the provincial governments dedicate for child welfare services in other communities. This is despite often greater needs and the higher costs of delivering services in small and remote First Nations communities. As a result, the removal of children from their families – something that is only supposed to happen as a last resort – has become commonplace for underfunded child welfare services that lack the resources to intervene in other ways.

    December 06, 2019

    On January 18, Amnesty International will take to the streets for the third Women’s March to bring attention to the alarming rollback on bodily autonomy experienced by women, transgender, and non-binary people in Canada and around the world.

    The proposed Bill 207 in Alberta would limit access to sexual and reproductive health services including abortion and gender-affirming healthcare by allowing physicians to refuse to provide care they feel is contrary to their beliefs. The last free-standing abortion clinic in Fredericton, New Brunswick is up for sale. Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people continue to be sterilized without their free, full, and informed consent.

    November 25, 2019
    The BC Government must do the right thing: pull the pipes from Quesnel Lake

    Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) commissioner Gay McDougall, Nuskmata Mack, June McCue, Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, and Chief Don Tom, June 2019, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) ©Amnesty International Canada

    “Addressing the harms caused by the Mount Polley mine disaster is a small part of what the Province must do to safeguard the collective rights of Indigenous peoples to our lands and cultures,” Bev Sellars, acclaimed author and former Chief of the Xats’ull Indian Band.

    November 08, 2019

    Jaya Bordeleau-Cass and André Capretti are the 2019-2020 Public Interest Articling Fellows at Amnesty International Canada. They will be posting updates about the Safe Third Country Agreement hearing throughout the week.

    The brief and frustrating answer: it’s unclear what it takes. 

    Submissions in the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) challenge continued to be delivered from November 4-8th at the Federal Court in Toronto. Earlier this week, counsel for the applicants – representing Amnesty International, the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Council of Churches, and other individual litigants – provided a general overview of the requirements for a safe third country designation, why it is unlawful, and why the operation of the agreement violates the security and equality rights of STCA returnees.

    October 31, 2019

    For the last half century, the people of Asubpeeschoseewagong (the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwest Ontario) have been dealing with the devastating impacts of industrial pollution of their river system, including widespread mercury poisoning from contaminated fish. Momentum is building in support of Grassy Narrows and its long struggle for justice. But we need to ramp up pressure to break through government indifference and bureaucratic inertia.

    The Trudeau government had promised to deal with the mercury crisis once and for all. The federal government even promised that it would act quickly to ensure mercury survivors at long last had access to the kind of specialized health care that they need. Unfortunately, as we learned this summer, that promise has been broken.

    The federal government doesn’t want to commit all the money that’s needed. And it wants the option of taking even that money away whenever it wants.

    The people of Grassy Narrows deserve better. They are asking for the government to establish an ongoing trust fund to ensure that mercury survivors get the care they need, regardless of the political winds in Ottawa.