As a female, first-generation Canadian citizen, I grew up hearing stories about racism and the unrecognized Sikh Genocide of 1984. I noticed gender-based discrimination and inequality in the South Asian community when adults rejoiced when a child of the male sex was born and expressed disappointment when it was a female. I also observed members of the community continuously characterizing people according to “their caste.” Very early in my life, I began to recognize that discrimination, especially discrimination based on characteristics that are out of one’s control, such as one’s biological sex, race, and the socioeconomic status that one is born into, was unjust. In conjunction with other experiences in my life, my experience with such discrimination led to my interest in studying law to advance and engage with broader social justice issues.
My desire to stand up against such injustices in society led to me pursuing an undergraduate education specializing in international relations focusing on international law and human rights. It was during my undergraduate education that I learned more about Amnesty International. Research and related literature published by individuals at Amnesty International helped me develop, for example, many arguments that analyzed the use of torture and indefinite detention at Guantánamo Bay by the American government in response to terrorism. Likewise, Amnesty International campaigns that focus on the abolition of the death penalty also resonated with my interests and values, and so, I began volunteering with Amnesty International Toronto during my undergraduate education. I enjoyed the knowledge-sharing that would take place at Amnesty events, witnessing the sheer passion many students and activists had for the various human rights concerns we discussed, and the efforts of individuals at Amnesty to actively incite positive change.
This past summer I joined the AI Canada National Organizers Program. At the moment I am focusing on multiple projects with Amnesty, such as the Energy Transition/Ethical Battery campaigning, where I am working with a group of passionate individuals to research ethical battery production and the mining of cobalt and lithium in efforts to make the world’s first “ethical battery” and to advocate for human rights to be essential within a transition to cleaner world economy. I am also working as a Layout Editor and Social Media Strategist for the Matchstick, a recently launched digital arts and human rights publication for youth by youth. We hope Matchstick will become an open space for creative expression, advocacy, and learning in support of human rights and human rights defenders worldwide.
I am excited to see how these projects will unfold and look forward to the projects and initiatives that I will take on as I continue to volunteer with Amnesty International.