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Canada

    May 24, 2018

    Grave health impacts linked to fish from poisoned river

    A new health report by a renowned Canadian mercury expert provides the strongest evidence yet of mercury poisoning in this northern Ontario Indigenous community.  The community health survey finds that health and wellbeing in Grassy Narrows is significantly worse than in other First Nations and links fish eating to a wide range of grave impacts.  The government has yet to acknowledge even one case of mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows, which is located downstream from the Dryden mill, one of Canada’s most notorious toxic dumping sites.  This is the first study of its kind in Grassy Narrows, and the most comprehensive assessment of the health of the community to date.

    “Our survey confirms what leaders of Grassy Narrows have been saying for decades,” said renowned environmental health scientist and lead author Dr. Donna Mergler.  “There are long term effects on health and well-being of eating the fish from Grassy Narrows lakes and rivers.”

    May 22, 2018

    I am here today, a free man, after a nightmare of imprisonment in Ethiopia that stole from me, my wife and my family, more than 11 years of my life.

    May 15, 2018

    Reacting to the adoption today of the draft outcome document of an important UN review of Canada’s human rights record, Amnesty International joined 30 Indigenous peoples’ organizations and civil society groups in calling on the federal government to break from past, disappointing responses to international human rights reviews and instead take bold and decisive action to ensure effective implementation of the important recommendations that have been made. The call came in the form of an Open Letter to the federal Ministers of Justice, Canadian Heritage and Foreign Affairs.

    May 14, 2018

    UPDATED July 10, 2018

    "To our allies, we say, 'keep fighting.' And to those of you just learning about this ruinous decision, don't stand for it...Call, meet, write, email, tweet." - Chief Lynette Tsakoza, Prophet River First Nations

    We're at a crucial turning point for the future of the Peace River Valley.

    On December 11, BC Premier John Horgan announced that construction of the Site C dam would continue despite his previous acknowledgement that "constitutional rights to practice hunting and fishing" would be "violated by this dam."

    Critically, however, the fight to protect the Peace Valley is not over. The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations have take the federal and provincial governments to court, alleging that flooding the Peace Valley would violate their Constitutionally-protect rights to hunt and fish as guaranteed by their Treaty. 

    Now, in an amazing victory of principle over politics, the federal government has told the court that it will not oppose the First Nations request to put the project on pause until the court case has been resolved.

    May 14, 2018

    Indigenous peoples’ organizations and social justice groups are welcoming the news that the federal government will not oppose a First Nations court application to suspend construction of the Site C dam.

    “The impact of the Site C dam on First Nations Treaty rights must be addressed before it’s too late,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “Now that the federal government has done the right thing, and helped cleared the way for an injunction to be granted, Premier Horgan absolutely must ensure that the province and BC Hydro do the same. Anything less would make a mockery of the province’s commitments to reconciliation and respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples.”

    The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations have launched a civil suit alleging that flooding the Peace River Valley would violate rights protected in Treaty 8. West Moberly has asked the court to grant an injunction to protect the valley while the matter is before the courts.

    May 11, 2018

    UPDATE: The federal government has decided not to oppose the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations while they seek an injunction to suspend construction of the Site C dam in British Columbia while important, unresolved Treaty rights concerns are before the courts. We're urging Premier John Horgan to follow this example. You can learn more about this vital test case for Indigenous rights at a new website launched with coalition partners: www.witnessforthepeace.ca

    The federal government ignored a direct question about the Site C dam and Treaty rights violations during a review of Canada’s human rights record earlier today at the United Nations in Geneva.

    May 09, 2018

    A Canadian delegation led by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould will receive questions and recommendations from other countries regarding Canada’s human rights record during the country’s third assessment under the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process (UPR) on May 11th. This will be the first time Canada undergoes examination by the top UN human rights body under the Trudeau government.   The procedure was adopted by the UN in 2006 and got underway in 2008.  Canada was previously reviewed in 2009 and 2013. The UPR is particularly significant because it is the only regular process under which a state’s human rights record is examined by other governments.

    May 08, 2018

    First Nations and human rights groups are questioning why lawyers for the government of BC and BC Hydro wanted to exclude important evidence about the Site C dam from an injunction hearing set to begin this July.

    First Nations are seeking an injunction to halt destruction of their homelands by the Site C dam until the courts can finally address whether the dam should be cancelled for violating the Treaty rights of the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations.

    In an oral judgment made on April 24 and publicly posted yesterday, the Supreme Court of British Columbia allowed applications by BC Hydro and the province to exclude some of the evidence First Nations had submitted for the injunction hearing, including sworn statements from Marc Eliesen, the former president and CEO of BC Hydro, and Harry Swain, who was the chair of the joint review panel for the project’s environmental assessment.

    May 07, 2018

    Organizations call for suspension of Site C dam; new website launches to monitor court challenge

    “The fundamental issue is First Nations in the region have entrenched constitutional rights… to practice hunting and fishing as before, and that’s going to be violated by this dam.” - John Horgan, May 8, 2014

    "People shouldn’t have to go to court to claim their rights." – federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, speaking at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, April 2018

    The federal and provincial cabinets must support an immediate halt to the destructive Site C Dam while the crucial and still unresolved Treaty rights challenge is before the courts. Canada and BC must also act in good faith during this court case in a way that is in line with their commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    OPEN LETTER TO THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA AND THE PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

    May 04, 2018
    Land defenders in opposition to the Muskrat Falls dam on a hunger strike

    It should be an easy decision.

    Expert scientific studies have found that completion of Labrador’s Muskrat Falls dam as currently planned would release disastrously high levels of mercury into downstream waters, threatening the health, food security and cultural integrity of Inuit communities who rely in fish and seal.

    However, these same studies have also concluded that the threat could be greatly reduced by removing soil from the planned reservoir to greatly reduce the amount of methyl mercury resulting from decomposition.

    Now, the majority of members of an advisory committee struck by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador have made the same recommendation. 

    The province now has a choice. Either scrap the project or make the necessary changes. Either way, the lives and safety of downstream communities must ensured.

    May 03, 2018

    In an Open Letter to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Amnesty International and the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) are calling on the federal government to launch a thorough and independent inquiry into Hassan Diab’s extradition to France, including the conduct of Canadian officials during extradition hearings.

    May 01, 2018

    Every May, people across Canada take action for mining justice.

    This year, we will continue to push for greater corporate accountability, while we celebrate some progress. 

    The Canadian government announced in January 2018 that Canada will be the first country in the world to have an independent Ombudsperson for responsible business enterprise.

    This means that people who have been harmed by the overseas activities of Canadian mining, oil, gas and garment companies will be able to submit their complaints to an independent ombudsperson for investigation. Effectively implemented, this could be a game-changer -however, the Ombudsperson office is not in place yet and some of the elements that will determine how the Ombudsperson’s office will operate have yet to be defined. Communities continue to experience human rights violations, even after mines are closed. 

    In order to be credible and effective, it is vital that the ombudsperson be free from political and corporate interference. It is also essential that the Ombudsperson be empowered to conduct effective investigations and gather evidence that may be in a company’s possession.

    April 26, 2018

    "People shouldn’t have to go to court to claim their rights" – federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, speaking at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, April 2018

    In the coming weeks, two governments that have repeatedly promised to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples will be in court to defend a massively destructive resource development project that they approved without ever once considering whether it would violate Canada’s Treaty obligations to the affected First Nations.

    The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are asking the court to halt construction of the Site C dam which would flood more than 100 km of the Peace River Valley and its tributaries. 

    The environmental assessment of the project found that its impacts on First Nations cultural sites and way of life would be serve, permanent and irreversible. The United Nations’ top anti-racism body, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has called for a halt to the project as a violation of the rights of Indigenous peoples.

    April 23, 2018

     

    As the UN’s expert on violence against women prepares to deliver preliminary conclusions from a 12-day official visit to Canada, a coalition of legal experts, Indigenous peoples’ organizations and women's human rights organizations are warning that continued government failure to address the systemic bias in Canada’s justice system, and the profound social and economic disadvantage of Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people, is fuelling the crisis of murders and disappearances.

    April 23, 2018

    Whether you identify as LGBTI or as an ally, you can help bring Amnesty’s human rights message to a Pride festival near you this Summer. Pride is an excellent opportunity to show your solidarity with LGBTI communities in Canada and around the world, and take action towards creating a world where people of all sexual orientations and gender identities can live in dignity and safety.

    Here are just a few ways to get involved in Pride activities in your community this Summer.

    MARCH WITH AMNESTY IN YOUR LOCAL PRIDE PARADE

    Reach out to other Amnesty supporters in your community and organize a Pride marching contingent. Contact Amnesty’s LGBTI coordinators for information on swag to distribute, resources to use, and support in registering to march. To have maximum impact, try to have at least 5 people march with you.

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