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    April 11, 2013

    By Jacqueline Hansen, Amnesty International's Major Campaigns and Women's Human Rights Campaigner.

    “We can start with our future, our children, teach them love instead of hate… Violence, it’s easy to teach violence and hate. Turn that around and teach love, empathy, and we wouldn’t be here today grieving.”
    – Glen Wilson, Father of CJ Morningstar Fowler, a 16-year-old member of the Gitanmaax First Nation, whose body was found outside Kamloops, British Columbia, in December 2012.
     

    April 09, 2013

    By Aubrey Harris, Coordinator for the Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty

    My Neighbour: Hamid Ghassemi-Shall

    I live in Toronto's east end, a neighbourhood known as Leslieville. It's between The Beach and Riverdale (where Degrassi was set). My neighbourhood is typically urban. There are a lot of streetcars, buses and older houses. The local elementary school is old enough to have an honour roll of former students who paid with their lives during the Great War and World War II. I didn't grow up here (I grew up in London, ON) - but I quite like this neighbourhood - and I've lived in a few around Toronto.

    April 05, 2013

    Amnesty International has confirmed that Canadian citizen Aaron Yoon is detained at a prison in Nouakchott, Mauritania.  An Amnesty International researcher interviewed him in prison during an Amnesty International mission to the country in July 2012. 

    At that time Mr. Yoon very clearly indicated that he did not want Amnesty International to take up or campaign on his case.  Amnesty International respects the wishes of prisoners with respect to what action they do or do not want the organization to take on their behalf.  As a result we have not campaigned on Mr. Yoon’s case in any way.

    Amnesty International has since confirmed that Mr. Yoon was brought to trial on terrorism-related charges in the summer of 2012 and sentenced to a two year prison sentence, beginning from the time of his arrest in December 2011.  As such he should be slated for release in December 2013.

    April 04, 2013

    April 4 is Refugee Rights Day in Canada.

    This day marks the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1985 Singh decision. In this decision the Supreme Court found that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the fundamental rights of refugees. The Court decided that where the Charter declares ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice;’  ‘everyone’ includes refugees.

    Today the Canadian Council for Refugees and other organizations across Canada announced the launch of a campaign designed to transform the conversation about refugees in Canada. Under the banner ‘Proud to Protect Refugees’, they are dedicated to new efforts to promote a positive vision of what we want for refugees and of the important contributions refugees make to our  communities.

    They are calling on all Canadians to show their pride in protecting refugees.

    March 22, 2013

    The Honourable Vic Toews
    Minister of Public Safety
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6

    March 21, 2013

    Dear Minister,

    We are writing to you regarding decisions made by the Ministry of Public Safety with respect to the recent Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) raids at construction sites in Vancouver. According to federal access to information documents, on June 7, 2011 your signature and approval were given to Force Four Entertainment’s proposal to produce a reality television series focused on the work of the CBSA. On March 13, 2013, the arrest of several undocumented workers in Vancouver was filmed and broadcast.

    March 04, 2013

    The United Nations was presented today with a new report today outlining serious concerns regarding hunger and food insecurity in Canada, one of the wealthiest nations in the world. The report, written by independent expert, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, makes several concrete recommendations for strengthening protection of the human right to food in Canada. Human rights organizations present in Geneva, expressed deep disappointment that the government focused primarily on criticizing and dismissing the report and made no commitment to move ahead with any of the constructive recommendations.

    The report comes from De Schutter’s official mission to Canada, in May 2012. It represents his first visit to a country in the Global North – where serious levels of hunger and poverty are least expected.

    February 27, 2013

    On 14 February 2013, Amnesty International Canada was granted leave to intervene in an important and precedent-setting corporate accountability case.

    The case is being brought against Canadian company HudBay Minerals and its subsidiaries, involving allegations of gross human rights violations that took place in Guatemala in 2007 and 2009. Maya-Q’eqchi’ villagers from eastern Guatemala claim that security personnel employed by HudBay’s local subsidiary shot and killed school-teacher and anti-mining activist Adolfo Ich Chamán, shot and paralyzed youth German Chub Choc, and gang-raped 11 Maya-Q’eqchi’ women.

    The defendant companies brought motions to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims, on the basis that a parent company can never owe a duty of care to those who may be murdered, harmed or raped by security personnel employed by the company’s subsidiary in a foreign country. Originally, the defendants had also claimed that these lawsuits could not be heard in Canada, but they recently and unexpectedly dropped this argument.

    February 22, 2013

    On February 25, 2013, the Government of Canada will appear before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to face 14 weeks of hearings to determine if its flawed and inequitable First Nations child and family services program is discriminatory.

    The federal government controls and funds child and family services on reserves where as the provinces and territories do so for other children. The Auditor General of Canada and other expert reports confirm that the federal government's funding and program approaches to child and family services, including the more recent enhanced funding approach, are flawed and inequitable.

    There is clear evidence linking the inequality in services to hardship among First Nations families and to the growing numbers of First Nations children in care. Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society said, "This generation of First Nations children deserve an equal chance to grow up safely at home - something the Federal Government deprived many of their parents and grandparents of during the residential school era."

    February 21, 2013

    Recent comments by the RCMP concerning the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada do a great disservice by creating uncertainty, where clarity and urgency are required. The lives of Indigenous women and girls count. These are some well-document facts and figures about violence against Aboriginal women in Canada:

    February 07, 2013

    Amnesty International members across Canada have responded enthusiastically to the call to “Have a Heart” for First Nations children.

    “Have a Heart” is an annual campaign organized by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada that takes place on and around Valentine’s Day, February 14th.

    The campaign’s message is simple: First Nations children have the right grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy, and be proud of their cultures. And getting involved can be as easy as sending a card or letter with this message to the Prime Minister or your Member of Parliament.

    Amnesty members across Canada are already writing letters, on their own, with family and friends, and in larger public events.

    February 01, 2013

    Community hearings into the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline wrap up this week in Vancouver. As an international human rights organization with strong roots in communities across Canada, Amnesty International wanted to be part of this process to emphasize that whatever the mandate of this specific review, all decisions about resource development affecting the lands of Indigenous peoples must uphold domestic and international protections for their rights. Even more than this, we wanted to demonstrate that respect for the human rights of Indigenous peoples is matter of urgent priority for Canadian society and for the example that Canada sets for the world.

    More than 600 major resource development projects are planned across Canada in the coming decade. In northern British Columbia alone, in the region that would be crossed by the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline, 100 major projects in mining, forestry and other industries are currently underway or under development. The vast majority of these projects would affect lands and waters of continued cultural, economic, political and spiritual importance to First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples

    January 29, 2013

    This week, on February 1, Amnesty International will make an oral presentation to the environmental assessment panel that is reviewing the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline. We are doing so, despite significant concerns about the process, because we believe it's important to take this opportunity to continue to emphasize the need for all decisions about resource development to respect and uphold the human rights of Indigenous peoples.

    Amnesty International has worked alongside Indigenous communities across Canada and around the world. All too often, we have seen how resource development projects carried out against their wishes and without rigorous protection of their rights can lead to devastating impacts on their cultures, economies, health and well-being.

    January 29, 2013

    The community hearing phase of the Northern Gateway Pipeline environmental impact assessment wraps up this week in Vancouver. Craig Benjamin, Amnesty International Canada's Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples will be making a presentation on February 1, the final day of these hearings.

    Amnesty International takes no position either for or against oil and gas development, mining, logging and other resource development per se. However, we do call for the rigorous protection of international human rights standards in every phase of the decision-making process. Meeting these standards means that some projects must be substantially amended or rejected altogether.

    International human rights standards require governments to protect the right of Indigenous peoples to use and benefit from their traditional lands, and to be full and effective participants in all decisions affecting those lands. When it comes to projects that could have a significant impact on those lands, the standard of protection that is required is that of free, prior and informed consent.

    January 28, 2013

    An evening of dialogue with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Chief Doug White, First Nations Summit Political Executive
    Ann Marie Sam, Nak'azdli First Nation, First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining Paul Joffe and Jennifer Preston, co-editors “Realizing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Triumph, Hope and Action”

    Moderator: Craig Benjamin, Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous
    Peoples, Amnesty International.

    An unprecedented push to further intensify resource development in Canada.

    A federal legislative agenda to undermine environmental oversight.

    And an extraordinary grassroots resurgence of demand for the recognition of the rights of Indigenous peoples.

    January 28, 2013

    An evening of dialogue with:

    Robert Morales, lead negotiator Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group

    Paul Joffe and Jennifer Preston, co-editors “Realizing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Triumph, Hope and Action”

    Moderator: Craig Benjamin, Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Amnesty International

    An unprecedented push is being made to further intensify resource development in Canada. A federal legislative agenda undermines environmental oversight. And an extradordinary grassroots resurgence demands the recognition of the rights of Indigenous peoples.  This panel brings together experts and activists who have been deeply involved in the advancement of global recognition of the human rights of Indigenous peoples at the United Nations and the Inter-American system. They will lead a discussion of how these vital international standards can make a difference in the defense of Indigenous rights in Canada and the promotion of government accountability for environmental protection.

    DATE:  Tuesday, January 29th, 7-9pm

    WHERE: Cadboro Bay United Church 2625 Arbutus Rd, Victoria BC

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