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    December 27, 2019

    The youth of Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) First Nation are demanding the Canadian government keep its promises to finally address the mercury crisis in their community. Because of government inaction for 50 years, generations of young Indigenous people have grown up with devastating health problems and the loss of their cultural traditions like fishing and time on the land.

    To help amplify their urgent call, the youth-led campaign for mercury justice was one of the focal cases of last month's global Write for Rights campaign, marking the beginning of a year-long campaign to mobilize Amnesty members and supporters in Canada and around the world. Grassy Narrows youth were one of ten global cases focused on young human rights defenders leading the charge for change in their communities. More than 400,000 letters of support from around the world called for justice for Grassy Narrows and contributed to the successful signing of an agreement to build a mercury care home. 

    Highlights from the Write for Rights 2019 campaign:

    December 17, 2019

    My name is Nora Sneaky. I’m 15 years old and I’m from Grassy Narrows. Grassy is the only home I've ever known, and it’s a home I love. Grassy teaches me so much: it teaches me about the land, animals, and our Anishinaabe culture. But being from Grassy Narrows has also taught me that life can be unfair at times.

    From 1962 until 1970, a pulp mill dumped 10 tonnes of mercury into the Wabigoon-English river upstream from my community. That mercury still sits in the river to this day and it has come with many health effects like numbness, difficulties breathing and standing, inability to feel in areas in the body, muscle weakness. The list goes on and on. Most often it affects people physically, but it also affects people emotionally and mentally. I myself suffer from migraines, depression, anxiety, and other things that come with the effects of the poisoning.

    Because of mercury, I grew up with a lot of fear in my life, and this fear only grew as I got older and learned more about the impacts of mercury.

    December 11, 2019

    TORONTO – There is not much to laugh at in the world these days, but Comics Without Borders is partnering with Amnesty International to shine a light in the darkness many of us are feeling.

    Eight talented comedians will provide a night of levity on Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. West, starting at 7:30 p.m.

    Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, will also be attending the event to give a short talk at the VIP reception and the onset of the show.

    These comedians are available for interviews in advance (either in-studio or by phone):

    Nour Hadidi, a Jordanian-born, Toronto-based comedian who has been featured on CBC, FLARE Magazine, and Just for Laughs. The Toronto Star named her one of the four comedians to watch in 2016.

    Frank Spadone, a Toronto-based comedian who has frequented the top comedy clubs in the city and across Canada.

    Leonard Chan, who won the Absolute Comedy Prove You're a Comic contest in 2016 and the Comedy Brawl in 2018, beating over 400 comics.

    December 11, 2019

    Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Citizen Yasser Ahmed Albaz has been arbitrarily detained by Egyptian authorities for 10 months without charge in very difficult prison conditions. Today Yasser’s family was joined by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), Amnesty International and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) to call for Minister François-Philippe Champagne to secure Yasser’s release and reunite him with his family during his trip and bring Yasser home with him.

    Minister Champagne will be in Egypt to attend the inaugural Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa on December 11 and 12, 2019.

    December 09, 2019

    Amnesty International will appear as an intervening party before the Supreme Court of Canada in Saskatchewan and Ontario’s historic legal challenges of the federal carbon pricing plan. The two cases will be heard jointly on March 24-25, 2020.  The human rights organization was granted leave to intervene on December 4.

    This case marks the first time that governmental climate action is challenged before the Supreme Court, as the legitimacy of Canada’s carbon pricing regime is called into question by several provincial governments challenging the federal government’s constitutional authority to regulate Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in such a manner.

    December 09, 2019

    Rhonda L. Lenton, PhD
    President & Vice-Chancellor
    York University
    1050 Kaneff Tower, 4700 Keele Street
    Toronto, Ontario   M3J 1P3

    By email:  president@yorku.ca

    December 8, 2019

    Dear Dr. Lenton,

    Amnesty International is writing this Open Letter to request that you convene an independent review into all concerns associated with the “Reservists on Duty: Hear from former Israeli Defence Force soldiers” event, organized by the Herut Zionism Club at York University on November 20, 2019.

    December 05, 2019
    On June 20, 2019, members of the Grassy Narrows First Nation travelled 1,700 km from their homes in northwest Ontario to Toronto to protest against the devastating mercury crisis that has persisted for decades in their lands.

    In the coming weeks and months, Amnesty will be doing everything we can to support the people of Grassy Narrows to finally achieve the justice they deserve. The youth-led campaign for mercury justice is one of the focal cases of this year’s global Write for Rights campaign, marking the beginning of a year-long campaign mobilizing Amnesty members and supporters in Canada and around the world. Sign up for Write for Rights now.

    The people of Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwest Ontario have been hard-hit by mercury poisoning, after the government allowed a pulp mill to dump 10 tons of waste into a river in the 1960s. The damaging effects are still seen today.

    Next year marks 50 years since the public first became aware of mercury poisoning at Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows). In all this time, the people of the Grassy Narrows First Nation have never received the help they need to deal with the devastating, and still ongoing, consequences of the poisoning of their river system and the fish on which they depend.

    November 28, 2019

    The United Nations climate change negotiations start next week. It is vital that all governments make commitments to intensify their efforts to address the climate emergency, and that human rights are made central to this. Action taken to combat climate change must not come at the cost of human rights, including Indigenous rights, or deepen inequalities.

    The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has raised the alarm that in order to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, global greenhouse gas emissions must be halved by 2030. It is critical that rich countries, including Canada, which bear the greatest responsibility for causing the climate crisis and have the most resources, take swift and urgent action to: reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions in a fast and fair way that respects human rights; provide support to affected communities and individuals to address loss and damage caused by the climate crisis; and provide financial and technological resources to countries in the global south to facilitate their efforts to reduce emissions and adapt to the climate emergency.

    November 28, 2019

    A coalition of Canadian civil society organizations is deeply dismayed that Global Affairs Canada claims it has found “no credible evidence” linking Canadian exports of military equipment to human rights violations committed by Saudi Arabia.

    On 17 September 2019, the day Canada formally acceded to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), the Deputy Ministers of International Trade and Foreign Affairs signed off on a redacted memorandum which indicates that, while Saudi Arabia’s overall human rights record remains “problematic,” federal officials “did not identify any existing permits or pending applications that would be of concern under the standard robust risk assessment framework.”

    November 25, 2019
    The BC Government must do the right thing: pull the pipes from Quesnel Lake

    Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) commissioner Gay McDougall, Nuskmata Mack, June McCue, Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, and Chief Don Tom, June 2019, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) ©Amnesty International Canada

    “Addressing the harms caused by the Mount Polley mine disaster is a small part of what the Province must do to safeguard the collective rights of Indigenous peoples to our lands and cultures,” Bev Sellars, acclaimed author and former Chief of the Xats’ull Indian Band.

    November 21, 2019

    Ottawa, ON – In a few days, the Federal Government of Canada will take First Nations children back to court in an effort to dismiss a compensation order by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT). On his first day as Canada’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the Honourable David Lametti should drop its application for judicial review and stay of the ruling and work with the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society to develop a plan for children, youth, and families to access compensation.

    As organizations committed to the well-being of all children and to the respect of children’s rights, we have been witnesses to the CHRT case of First Nations child welfare and Jordan's Principle.

    We witnessed as Canada’s conduct was found to be wilful and reckless in discriminating against First Nations children in care.

    We witnessed when Canada was ordered to pay compensation for those who were wrongly removed from their families or denied essential services.

    And we witnessed Canada file for judicial review, opting to continue to fight First Nations children in court.

    November 20, 2019

    OTTAWA, November 20, 2019 / Human rights advocates are denouncing the Canadian government’s financial support for a disastrous hydroelectric project in Colombia, as a leader from one of the affected communities arrives in Ottawa to meet today with officials at Export Development Canada (EDC) and Global Affairs Canada.

    Amnesty International Canada and Above Ground are accompanying Isabel Zuleta, a spokesperson for the coalition Movimiento Ríos Vivos, in her meetings with officials.

    EDC’s president and CEO recently acknowledged that the Hidroituango project, which was financed in part by EDC, led to “an environmental, economic and human catastrophe” after the dam nearly collapsed in 2018, forcing the evacuation of 25,000 people. Another financier, the Inter-American Development Bank, announced last month an investigation into its support for the dam.

    November 18, 2019

    (Lire la version française ici)

    OTTAWA – Today, two days before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveils his new cabinet, Amnesty International is publishing an open letter urging the Prime Minister to prioritize human rights in the mandates of all ministers.

    In the letter, Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve and Amnistie internationale Canada francophone Executive Director France-Isabelle Langlois say upholding and promoting human rights “must be a hallmark” of the Liberal Party’s second term of government.

    “It is vital that your government at all times puts human rights first in international diplomacy, and does not allow economic or other strategic considerations to create double standards,” the letter states. “It is also vital that human rights not be compromised or sidelined in any of the laws you propose, policies you adopt or decisions you take.”

    November 15, 2019

    OTTAWA – On November 20, Universal Children’s Day, Ottawa-based Inuk artist Sabrina Taqtu Montague will unveil a walleye fish banner she has painted in solidarity with Indigenous Anishinaabe youth impacted by the mercury crisis in Grassy Narrows First Nation.

    For 50 years, members of the First Nation in northwestern Ontario, also known as Asubpeeschoseewagong, have been facing mercury poisoning. A pulp mill dumped roughly 10 tonnes of mercury into the English-Wabigoon River system from 1962 until 1970, contaminating the community’s vital waterways and walleye fish. Due to government inaction, young people living in Grassy Narrows continue to face devastating health and social impacts, including the loss of the community’s jobs and the erosion of their cultural traditions.

    November 15, 2019

    TORONTO – United Way, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Amnesty International today jointly announced an incredible gift of $3 million from Alice and Grant Burton.

    Alice and Grant Burton, long-time philanthropists from Toronto, will evenly split the $3 million between these organizations, allowing them each to significantly increase their capacity to fight local poverty, provide medical assistance to people affected by conflict, and promote an end to worldwide human rights violations, respectively.

    Grant Burton is president of Starcan Corporation and director emeritus at the National Arts Centre while Alice Burton is an artist whose works have principally been exhibited in Toronto, Montreal, and New York.

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