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Activism Guide

    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 23, 2019

    People who speak out to defend land, water and forests in Latin America are seeking to protect the human rights and well-being of their communities. Yet, they face unprecedented attacks and killings in return. Indigenous people and racial minorities experience the greatest danger, while women defenders face gender-specific forms of aggression including sexual violence and threats against their children.

    It's a terrifying situation, emblemized by the murder of Lenca Indigenous water defender, Berta Cáceres in Honduras. But the killing of Berta is no isolated case. The toll of earth defenders lost to deadly violence continues to grow in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and other countries in Latin America. It's the most deadly region in the world to speak out about irresponsible logging, mining and dam projects that threaten the environment on which so many depend. 

    Despite the danger, earth defenders and their communities throughout Latin America are not giving up. There is too much on the line. They continue to speak out in defence of environmental human rights and to seek solidarity in countries like ours.

    March 15, 2019

    It’s no coincidence that three of Amnesty’s highest priority, ongoing cases in Canada all revolve around the industrial contamination and destruction of rivers, lakes and streams. 

    The struggle over mercury contamination at Grassy Narrows. The risks to water and fish from the Mount Polley mining disaster. The threatened destruction of the Peace River Valley by the Site C dam. 

     Each of these cases is a powerful illustration of the continued importance of healthy rivers and lakes to the well-being of the Indigenous peoples who rely on them -- and the terrible consequences when federal and provincial governments ignore their rights. 

     Bringing these three cases together is a way to highlight common themes and engage more people in speaking out for justice. 

     Our campaign on water defenders and human rights launches on World Water Day (March 22) and will continue through the summer. We’re offering a variety of tools and techniques to focus on these three cases at public events, whether you have a table at an event already planned in your community or you host your own water rights event. 

     Look for the following: 

    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:

    February 04, 2019

    Since 1967 when it captured the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT), it has been Israeli government policy to promote the creation and expansion of Israeli settlements in the OPT.  This is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and is one of the main driving forces behind the mass human rights violations resulting from the occupation.

    Meanwhile, companies from all over the world are conducting business activities in settlements and, in doing so, are helping sustain and expand Israel’s settlements in the OPT.  

    Digital tourism companies, like Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor, are profiting from war crimes by listing properties and attractions in Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.

    January 17, 2019

    Fieldworkers are trained Amnesty volunteer leaders who work across Canada to promote human rights activism at the grassroots level.  They help and support individuals and Amnesty groups to carry out their human rights work as well as are the go to persons for any resources and information specific to Amnesty issues and campaigns. Need a fieldworker to help your group?  Need a guest speaker for your school class or at a community event?  Contact the Fieldworker closest to you! Go to https://www.amnesty.ca/get-involved/volunteer-leadership/fieldworkers.

    Love mobilising masses for human rights? Interested in taking your human rights work one step further by becoming a leader in Amnesty Canada at local, regional, and national levels? Interested in becoming one of the faces of Amnesty through public speaking? We would love to hear from you.

    January 17, 2019

    By Cassandra DeFreitas

    The York University Community was eagerly waiting for the most anticipated event of the year; Write for Rights.

    The executive team had been brainstorming, taking notes, and discussing how to make Write for Rights ‘Bigger and Better’. The team went through the post-event notes last year, discussed what could be improved and how to improve them. The biggest challenge was getting more students to be aware and be engaged in addressing human rights abuses or issues and actively advocating for the rights of human rights defenders. 

    The entire team decided on the game plan, from promotions to outreach, booking tablings to preparing the incentives for the event. We had agreed on November 21st to be the date of our Write for Rights event. We had contacted our Student Community and Leadership Development coordinator to reserve the entire ‘Bear Pit’ as we were aiming for a high turn out this year. We were able to secure the maximum amount of tables and space as the whole from 10-4pm.

    January 10, 2019

    Berta Caceres was a beloved, internationally-recognized defender of Indigenous rights and the environment in Honduras. She received death threats as she led efforts to stop construction of the Agua Zarca hydro-electric project on the Gualcarque River, considered sacred by Lenca Indigenous communities and vital for their survival in their territory. Berta reported the threats. She was assassinated on March 2, 2016.

    Bringing this horrific crime to justice is vital since impunity only fuels more killings of defenders of land, territory and the environment in Honduras. Indeed, the killings have continued in the three years since Berta’s murder.

    January 10, 2019

    January marks one year since Edwin Espinal and Raul Alvarez were arrested and sent to a military-run prison without trial, denied the chance to defend themselves against accusations they say are false.

    This injustice happened during a brutal crack-down as thousands of Hondurans took to the streets to protest alleged electoral fraud by the government of Juan Orlando Hernandez. Security forces shot at and beat protestors. Dozens were killed or badly injured. Others, like Edwin and Raul, were detained and denied their rights to due process. The crackdown was documented by Amnesty International in our report Protest Prohibited. 

    After one year in a maximum security prison for violent criminals, without adequate food, water, sanitation, medical attention or access to daylight and exercise, both men have lost considerable weight and their health is in danger. There is no end in sight as Amnesty has documented multiple irregularities and serious violations of their right to defend themselves.

    January 09, 2019

    January 17th marks the one year anniversary of the Canadian government's announcement to create an independent Ombudsperson that would enable people harmed by Canadian companies overseas to have access to justice in Canada.

    We celebrated the announcement, thrilled that Canada would finally be "Open for Justice". Yet one whole year has passed, and the Ombudsperson is still not in place! Equally concerning is whether or not the office will be granted the powers it needs to be effective. The  Canadian government did promise a year ago that Canada's Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise would be independent, transparent, and have the power and tools necessary to conduct effective investigations. But we are still waiting to see whether they follow through on their word.

    We need your help! 

    January 09, 2019

    On Friday, March 8th, mark International Women’s Day by celebrating women human rights defenders and taking action to end gender-based discrimination and violence.

    January 09, 2019

    DROP PROJECT DRAGONFLY

    Google publicly exited the search engine market in China in 2010, citing restrictions to freedom of expression online. Since then, the Chinese government has strengthened its controls over the internet and intensified its crackdown on freedom of expression. 

    Indicating a reversal in strategy, Google is now preparing to re-enter the Chinese search engine market, and is developing a new, search engine app codenamed “Dragonfly” that would facilitate China’s online censorship and surveillance. This would represent an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights, and a dark day for internet freedom as it would legitimize China’s model of internet repression for other governments and set a precedent for tech companies compromising human rights in exchange for access to new markets.

    It has been reported in the media that Google is now planning to drop its Dragonfly project. While this is amazing news, it isn't confirmed yet, so we intend to keep the pressure on until it it official.

    January 09, 2019

    On Saturday, January 19th, be part of a global movement expressing outrage at ongoing gender-based rights violations and demonstrate solidarity with women human rights defenders by taking part in a Women’s March in your community.

    January 09, 2019
    Steve Fobister being interviewed by APTN at blockade cabin

    “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?” – the late Steve Fobister Sr., former Chief of the Grassy Narrows First Nation, quoted in the Toronto Star

    “Steve always wanted the government to admit that he had been poisoned by mercury. Now we take up his fight to honour him.” – the family of Steve Fobister, Sr. 

    In October, Steve Fobister Sr., a leader and spokesperson for the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario, died after a long struggle with mercury poisoning. He was only 66. His family and friends are clear that the struggle he helped lead is far from over.

    For more than five decades, the people of Grassy Narrows have been forced to live with the devastating consequences of a government policy that allowed massive amounts of mercury to be dumped into their river system. It’s no coincidence that Grassy Narrows, whose traditions and economy revolve around fishing, faces the worst community health crisis in Canada.

    January 09, 2019
    Petitions being delivered to the BC legislature

    Last Fall, the BC government was able to convince a provincial judge to allow construction of the Site C dam to continue even though a fundamental Treaty rights challenge is still before the courts.

    The United Nations’ top anti-racism body has now responded to the injunction decision by calling on the federal and provincial governments to immediately suspend construction of Site C. The letter from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is absolutely clear that, despite the injunction decision, a halt to construction is absolutely necessary to prevent permanent harm to the human rights of Indigenous peoples in the Peace River region.

    The Committee also called on the federal and provincial governments to seek independent, expert advice on how to fulfill their human rights obligations, including the right of free, prior and informed consent.

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