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Toronto regional meeting inspires Amnesty members

Posted in: Members Take Action
    Thursday, June 26, 2014 - 08:56
    Photo Credit: 
    Photo credits: Florin Zamfirescu

    by Elena Dumitru, Regional Activism Coordinator

    On Saturday June 14th Amnesty International Toronto Organization (AITO) had its Regional Meeting and the day was a special one in very many ways!

    The day featured a packed and varied agenda from workshops on a variety of Amnesty International (AI) topics and issues, and

  • a powerful panel on torture with guest speakers Abdullah Almalki, Marina Nemat and Alex Neve
  • the staging of the play “Last walk of Adolfo Ich”
  • Alex Neve’s opening keynote speech on State of Human Rights in Canada
  • "My doors are Open for Refugees” march, the closing of the day with dinner
  • keynote speaker Melissa Fung who talked about the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan, and of course
  • photo actions on Stop Torture and on Refugees

    The Regional Meeting was attended by 115 participants from the Greater Toronto Area and beyond, some of them long-term AI members, some new to AI while others were people who expressed interest in joining the organization and choose the Regional Meeting as their first introduction  into the world of Amnesty.

    Human rights highlights from Amnesty International's meeting in Toronto

  • The panel on torture was an important, powerful and inspiring way to introduce the campaign, to bring Abdullah Almalki and Marina Nemat’s experiences to our membership, to get our volunteers excited and engage them into taking action.

    The “Free Prior and Informed Consent (Colombia, Guatemala, Canada)” workshop had wonderful energy and visuals. As one participant said::  “The facilitators did a great job at getting us up to speed.  It was so moving to 'hear' the speakers from Colombia, Guatemala and Canada”.

    The workshop on “Challenges refugees face as victims of torture” had a huge impact on the audience and generated a lively discussion. As another participant commented: “hearing these three refugees - two of whom are still not 'in' Canada reminds us why we do this work.”

    “Everything you wanted to know about transgender rights…but were afraid to ask” workshop, led by George Harvey with guest speaker Rachel Clarke, was incredibly moving and informative.

    Most workshops had special guest speakers who work outside Amnesty International, and included videos, photos and lively discussion, all of which enhanced participants' experience and mobilized them to get more involved.

    The play was staged during lunchtime and even though many in the audience knew the story, the voices of our volunteer actors brought it powerfully to life. It was a fresh, unique way to continue to engage participants and connect them with the plight of Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala on a very personal, emotional level.

    We celebrated human rights as we marched to the cheers of passers-by

    The march to 519 Community Centre, was a blast of yellow signs (some made during our “Art and Revolution” workshop) and enthusiastic people!  Many of the marchers were people either new to AI or donors who told us this was their first ever AI event and they loved it! It was rewarding to see on a very hot, busy Saturday the response from passers-by, who cheered us, honked their horns and showed along the way their support for the rights of refugees and the LGBTI community.

    As always with such AI events the result is the work of both staff and volunteers but special kudos need to go to the amazing planning team – our AITO volunteers – who did a SPECTACULAR job and made this event one of great learning, networking, sharing and action!

    Thank you to all participants!

    Photo credits: Florin Zamfirescu