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Indigenous Peoples

    January 22, 2016

    In an open letter sent this week, five national organizations that have been deeply involved in efforts to expose and address violence against Indigenous women and girls call on the federal government to ensure that the forthcoming national inquiry can:

    January 20, 2016

    “Reconciliation means not having to say sorry twice,” Dr. Cindy Blackstock, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

    Education. Health Care. Child protection.

    For years, persistent federal government underfunding of these basic services in First Nations reserves has put  children at risk. It has denied them the kinds of opportunities that other young people in Canada often take for granted. And it has stood in the way of First Nations communities healing from the terrible harms inflicted through the residential schools programme and other colonialist policies.

    Now, we may be on the verge of an historic breakthrough.

    Next Tuesday, January 26, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is scheduled to deliver its long-awaited decision on whether or not the federal government’s underfunding of child protections services and other family supports is a form of racial discrimination.

    January 07, 2016

    The province of British Columbia is pushing ahead with construction of a hydro-electric megaproject in the Peace River Valley despite unresolved legal challenges from First Nations. A camp set up by community members at an historic site in the path of BC Hydro's efforts to clear the planned reservoir has led to a temporary halt in logging. But the community members now face the risk of arrest for their actions.

    The rapidly evolving situation highlights the urgent need for the federal government to honour its Treaty commitments by suspending all federal licenses and permits for the project so that the underlying issues of Constitutionally-protected rights and due process can be addressed.

    The following is a press released issued by the community members.

     

    First Nations Prepare for Arrest to Stop Site C Dam
    Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land call on Trudeau to stop megadam in B.C.'s Peace Valley

    December 14, 2015

    By Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.

    Every day, federal and provincial governments make decisions about resource development projects. Some are relatively benign decisions, with few or no impacts on First Nations rights. Others carry the potential for massive and irreversible impacts on the rights of First Nations.

    British Columbia’s planned Site C hydroelectric dam falls into the latter category. It will have devastating impacts on the rights and territories of Treaty 8 First Nations in B.C. Approval for Site C means approval for flooding the last pristine stretch of the Peace River valley west of Fort St. John, turning it into a massive reservoir.

    November 25, 2015

    A new report released today by Statistics Canada shows that Indigenous people are six times more likely than other people in Canada to be murdered.

    Amnesty International has long called for systematic, publicly available data on the Aboriginal identity of both the victims and perpetrators of violence. Such data can be crucial to better understand and eliminate violence.

    When the first national statistics on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls were released in 2014 by the RCMP ("Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: An National Operational Overview")  the data was widely misrepresented and oversimplified in public debate. The numbers show a complex and pervasive pattern of violence against Indigenous women and girls. Amnesty International is still reviewing the data in the latest report, but we feel it is important to emphasize the following:

    November 24, 2015

    Respect for Indigenous peoples' right of free, prior and informed (FPIC) must be a matter of urgent priority for any government committed to a respectful relationship with Indigenous peoples.

    This is part of a message to the the new Prime Minister and his Cabinet from Indigenous peoples' organizations, human rights groups, environmentalists and others.

    In an open letter sent today, 16 organizations from across Canada called on the federal government to collaborate with Indigenous Peoples’ governments and organizations to ensure that:

    November 24, 2015

    Dear Prime Minister,

    Our organizations welcome your public commitment to a renewed relationship between the federal government and Indigenous Peoples in Canada based on the rights guaranteed in Canada’s Constitution and enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We hope that this vision of cooperation and partnership will shape your government’s actions and priorities from the outset.

    We are encouraged that, as a “top priority”, you have mandated the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to support reconciliation and implement the UN Declaration.

    In particular, our organizations believe that there is an immediate and pressing need for your government to collaborate with Indigenous Peoples to institute the crucial human rights safeguard of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in the laws, policies and procedures of the federal government.

    November 19, 2015

    Amnesty International is calling for an immediate halt to construction of a massive hydro-electric dam on the Peace River in northeastern British Columbia.

    In an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and BC Premier Christy Clark, the Secretary General of the global movement of Amnesty International expressed concern about "the violations of Indigenous peoples’ human rights that would result from the construction of the Site C dam."

    The letter states, "The harm caused by the Site C dam would deny Indigenous peoples the ability to exercise fundamental human rights protected under both Canadian and international law."

    The letter goes on to state, "Instead of meeting the rigorous standard of decision- making required by Canada’s obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of Indigenous peoples, the decision to allow the Site C dam to proceed was deeply flawed."

    November 09, 2015

    Inuit people in Labrador who depend on the Lake Melville estuary to hunt and fish are concerned about the impact of a large hydro-electric dam being built upstream. They are particularly concerned that the dam will lead to methylmercury contamination of fish and seals, rendering them unsafe to eat.

    The Inuit government of Nunatsiavut has not opposed the Muskrat Falls dam. But it has called for rigorous measures to protect the health and livelihoods of its people. These measures include a full clearing of the reservoir before flooding to reduce the amount of methylmercury produced, establishment of a downstream monitoring program designed and overseen by an independent expert advisory committee; and significant Inuit participation in high-level environmental monitoring and management decisions.  

    November 09, 2015

    House of Assembly
    Confederation Building, East Block
    P.O. Box 8700
    St. John's, NL A1B 4J6

     

    RE: Inuit rights and downstream impacts of the planned Muskrat Falls dam

    Dear Premier Paul Davis, Mr. Dwight Ball, and Mr. Earle McCurdy,

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the potential for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam to cause serious harm to downstream Inuit communities has not been properly dealt with, as required both by Canadian law and international human rights standards.  We are writing this letter to you in your capacities as party leaders because we believe this is a pressing human rights concern that, regardless of the outcome of the upcoming provincial election, requires action and vigilance from both the government and the entire legislative assembly.

    October 28, 2015

    Indigenous women from Val d’Or, Quebec, a small town located about 500km northwest of Montreal, alleged that officers from the Sûreté du Québec (SQ, Quebec’s provincial police) have committed serious crimes against them, including physical and sexual assault.

    According to a report aired last week on the Radio Canada program Enquête, SQ officers are alleged to have “routinely picked up women who appeared to be intoxicated, drove them out of town and left them to walk home in the cold.” Some of the women interviewed by Radio Canada also allege that they were “physically assaulted or made to perform sex acts.”

    These allegations are extremely serious. But although law enforcement and government officials have known about the allegations since May, it wasn’t until the Radio Canada report aired that the eight officers under investigation for sexual misconduct were put on leave or transferred to administrative duty.

    October 27, 2015

    (Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C.- October 27, 2015) A Coalition on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls is extremely upset that the BC Information and Privacy Commissioner has found that Ministry of Transportation staff willfully deleted emails related to the Highway of Tears, a remote stretch of Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George, where many Indigenous women and girls have been murdered or disappeared.

    The provincial government has failed to take meaningful action to provide adequate and safe transportation along the Highway despite numerous clear recommendations to do so from agencies including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry, and the Highway of Tears Symposium.  BC’s failure to act in response to these recommendations puts the safety of Indigenous women and girls at risk and is in neglect of its duty to take every reasonable effort to ensure the safety of all women and girls.

      We celebrate Have a Heart Day this February, and stand with First Nations children for the same chance to grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy, and proud of their cultures.  Join Toronto’s Amnesty International Action Network for Women’s Human Rights (ANWHR) for a night of arts and crafts, letter writing and sweet treats as we send messages to our Prime Minister and Members of Canadian Parliament to ask them to Have A Heart for our First Nation's children. Date: Thursday, 11 February 
    Time: 7:00PM - 9:00PM (Drop in whenever you can)
    Where: Amnesty International Toronto Office, 1992 Yonge Street, 3rd Floor FREE Event! Children friendly event. Everyone is welcome. For more details contact: anwhr@aito.ca   FACEBOOK page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1684803838462270/  

    Join Amnesty International and One World Film Festival for a special 10th anniversary screening of Freedom Drum. 

    The evening will also feature the films Water Warriors and The Three Sisters Community Garden, presented by Interpares. 

    About the Film: 

    Freedom Drum

    Directed by Monica Virtue | Canada | 2007 | 11 min

    On October 12, 2006 at sunrise on Victoria Island in Ottawa members of The Midnight Messenger, Amnesty International Canada’s human rights drum circle, raised their voices in song and beat their drums in a steady rhythm that marked the beginning of a 24-hour vigil in support of the UN Declaraction on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The vigil was a call to action to the Canadian government to reinstate support the the Declaration and for Canada make good on its claims that it did good things for Indigenous peoples.

    The One World Film Festival presents this special 10th anniversary screening of Freedom Drum, which was originally screened at the Festival in 2007 as part of its focus on First Peoples – First Stories, in partnership with Amnesty International Canada

    What would resource extraction and development look like if the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was implemented in Canada? This panel attempts to answer that question. We'll hear from Indigenous rights advocates and legal experts about what UNDRIP is, how it has been contravened by projects like the Site C dam in BC and the Alton Gas project in Nova Scotia, and processes developed by Indigenous communities to give, or withhold, consent. Panelists will discuss the topic in broad terms as well as offer specific insights to ongoing projects and resistance movements. This event is co-sponsored by the Council of Canadians and Halifax Public Libraries. 

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