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Indigenous Peoples

    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 08, 2013

    Take action > Send a letter to Prime MInister Harper demanding that the Canadian government commit to upholding its legal and moral obligations to Indigenous peoples.

    Grassroots rallies across Canada under the banner 'Idle No More' have put the spotlight on a federal legislative agenda that is trampling the rights of Indigenous peoples set out in  domestic and international law.

    January 04, 2013

    For nearly a month now, an Indigenous leader has been camped out in a traditional tepee near the Canadian Parliament buildings in Ottawa, where she is engaged in a hunger strike aimed at getting a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

    Take Action:  Ask Prime Minister Harper to commit to the full and effective participation of Indigenous peoples in all decisions affecting them

    Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation started her fast on 11 December 2012 to draw attention to an endemic housing crisis in her community and new legislation that undermines the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples across Canada. 

    At the same time, a growing grassroots movement – “Idle No More” – has successfully used social media to organize demonstrations for Indigenous rights in communities across Canada, prompting solidarity actions around the world.

    January 02, 2013

    Indigenous and human rights organizations stand in solidarity with Chief Theresa Spence in her appeal for full respect for Aboriginal and Treaty rights by the government of Canada. There is an urgent need for Canada to demonstrate genuine respect and long-term commitment, initiated by a meeting between First Nations’ leadership, the Prime Minister and the Governor General.

    Take Action: Tell Prime Minister Harper that the Canadian government must uphold its legal and moral obligations to Indigenous peoples

    Full honour and implementation of Indigenous peoples' Treaties are crucial to the evolution of Canada and the principle of federalism.  Cooperative and harmonious relations cannot be achieved by devaluing Treaties or by unilateral government actions. 

    December 17, 2012

    A coalition of more than twenty-five community and advocacy groups has prepared a statement responding to the release of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry's final report. The statement expresses support for the families, calls for a national inquiry into the hundreds of missing and murdered women and girls, reiterates support for the investigation previously announced by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and calls for a systemic analysis of the underlying conditions of sexism, racism, poverty, and colonialism.

    In Vancouver, the majority of the organizations will be releasing their statement at a press conference on Monday, December 17 at 2:30 p.m. at the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue, 580 West Hastings Street (Room 470).

    In Prince George, the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council and the Carrier Sekani Family Services will hold a press
    conference on Monday, December 17 at 2:00 p.m., in the Carrier Sekani Family Services boardroom, 987
    Fourth Avenue.

    For more information contact:

    December 10, 2012

    For the reasons described below, Amnesty International believes that the US authorities should release Leonard Peltier, an Anishinabe-Lakota Native American and leading member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), who has been imprisoned for 35 years. Having studied the case extensively over many years, Amnesty International remains seriously concerned about the fairness of proceedings leading to Leonard Peltier’s conviction and believes that political factors may have influenced the way in which the case was prosecuted.  

    Leonard Peltier was convicted of the murders of two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents, Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, during a confrontation involving AIM members on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota on 26 June 1975. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in 1977. While Leonard Peltier admits having been present during the incident, he has always denied shooting the agents at point blank range as alleged by the prosecution at his trial.  Leonard Peltier is now in his 35th year of imprisonment and has exhausted all legal appeals against his conviction.  

    December 04, 2012

    Note: The following action updates the action posted in September 2011 and includes important new "asks"

    Maria (not her real name because of safety concerns), an Indigenous woman from Putumayo, left her home to look for food for her livestock on 18 May 2012. As she was returning home, an army soldier grabbed her, dragged her into some bushes and raped her.

    November 29, 2012

    On Wednesday, 27 November 2012, José Ramon Aniceto Gómez and Pascual Agustín Cruz - both prisoners of conscience in Mexico - were released.

    The two indigenous human rights defenders had served almost three years of a six year sentence for a crime they did not commit. 

    After being adopted as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International in March 2012, over 30,000 Amnesty members took action and called for their immediate and unconditional release. 

    José Ramón Aniceto Gómez and Pascual Agustín Cruz from the indigenous Nahuátl community of Atla, Pahuatlán municipality, Puebla state, were detained in January 2010 and sentenced to more than six years in prison.

    Having reviewed the case in detail and interviewed the prisoners and other witnesses, Amnesty International concluded that the accusation against the activists was fabricated in retaliation for their work to ensure full access to water for the indigenous Nahuátl community of Atla, Pahuatlán municipality, Puebla.

    November 29, 2012

    Amnesty International Canada's Colombia campaigner Kathy Price reports on the urgent crisis facing Indigenous Women in Colombia.

    “Each sentence that you send to the government of Colombia, every letter that you send gives us strength and helps us to continue fighting for our lives. It’s like a kind of shield. The government knows you are watching what happens to us. That’s why today they are being a bit more careful. Because they know you are watching.”

    A.I. Canada campaigner Kathy Price (left) met Dora Tavera on a recent mission to Colombia. 

    This is the heartfelt, empowering message to Amnesty Canada activists from Dora Tavera, a Pijao Indigenous woman who works with the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia. She delivers it in a moving 5-minute video recorded by Amnesty International Canada during our recent observation mission to the South American country.

    November 21, 2012
    ‘Everything around us was disappearing... The clean water, our way of life, our traditions, even the wild rice picking and blueberry picking were all disappearing. It's all connected to the land.’ - Judy DaSilva, Grass Narrows

    It has been called one of the worst environmental disasters in Canadian history. Between 1962 and 1970, a mill in Dryden, Ontario dumped more than 9 metric tons of untreated inorganic mercury into the English and Wabigoon Rivers in Northwestern Ontario.

    These waters had been a source of both food and jobs for the people of Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) and neighbouring First Nations. Community members had worked as guides and as staff in the many commercial fishing lodges. When the mercury dumping was discovered, the commercial fishery was closed, cutting the people off from their most important source of income.

    Even worse, it was discovered that many of the residents had greatly elevated levels of mercury in their bodies and were exhibiting signs of the neurological degeneration associated with mercury poisoning.

    November 08, 2012

    Threats and violence against Indigenous Peoples are intensifying amidst Colombia's ongoing armed conflict.

    Guerrilla groups, state security forces and paramilitaries are responsible for killings, enforced disappearances and kidnappings, sexual abuse of women and recruitment of child soldiers. Thousands of Indigenous people have been forced from their land because they live in areas of intense military conflict and that are valued for their natural resources. Indigenous leaders and communities that try to defend their land rights commonly experience threats, killings and mass displacement.

    The vast majority of these crimes have not been investigated. Lack of justice fuels further abuse.

    The situation is nothing less than a human rights emergency.

    According to the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) and Colombia's Constitutional Court, more than a third of 102 distinct Indigenous nations in Colombia face the risk of being wiped out as a result of the armed conflict, the impacts of large-scale economic projects and lack of state support.

    October 23, 2012

    The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Alberta has filed a potentially groundbreaking legal challenge over the failure of the federal and provincial governments to protect Indigenous land rights in the face of oilsands development on their traditional territory.

    The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) is challenging the proposed expansion of Shell’s Jackpine Mine north of Fort McMurray. The ACFN argues that the federal and provincial governments, which both have to give approval to the project, have not  taken proper account of Aboriginal and Treaty rights protected in the Canadian Constitution.

    A joint federal-provincial environmental assessment panel is scheduled to begin public hearings next Monday. The joint panel announced today that it will decide this week whether or not it will first consider the ACFN Constitutional challenge.

    October 18, 2012

    A joint review panel has determined that Amnesty International will be among a number of public interest organizations that will have the opportunity to make presentations to the upcoming environmental Impact assessment of the proposed "New Prosperity" gold and copper mine in central British Columbia.

    Amnesty International will comment on Canada's obligations under international human rights law to respect and uphold the land rights of Indigenous peoples in the licensing of resource extraction projects.

    The opportunity to present our analysis to the panel is significant for a number of reasons.

    In June, the British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld an earlier decision recognizing that the Tsilhqot'in people have Aboriginal land use rights in the territory. The Tsilhqot'in are continuing to pursue legal recognition and protection of their title or ownership of lands and resources in the territory.

    In 2010, a similar mine proposal by the same company was rejected by the federal cabinet on the basis of an environmental impact assessment that found that found that the mine would cause significant, unavoidable and irreparable harm.

    September 12, 2012

    Five years ago, on 13 September 2007, the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to provide “minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.” Although Canada formally endorsed the Declaration in 2010, the federal government has not worked with Indigenous peoples to ensure its implementation. Instead, in its efforts to promote resource development in Canada and abroad, the government has undermined vital human rights protected in the Declaration.
    Luis Evelis Andrade, Chief Counsellor of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), said, “The government of Canada has backed the expansion of Canadian corporations in Colombia without regard for the context of war and grave human rights violations in the resource-rich territory of Indigenous peoples.”

    August 08, 2012

    When the El Cercado dam opened in November 2010, its Colombian project managers trumpeted it as an engineering triumph built entirely with national know-how.

    Moreover, the project was touted as a way to help combat the effects of recurrent droughts in La Guajira, a north-eastern region.

    But for the Wiwa Indigenous Peoples native to the area’s Sierra de Santa Marta mountains, the dam’s arrival signalled a devastating change in their way of life accompanied by a series of serious human rights abuses.

    From 2002 onwards, Wiwa communities living in and near the planned construction area suffered a consistent pattern of intimidation, destruction of homes, attacks against places of cultural significance and threats and killings of their spiritual and community leaders, carried out by the security forces operating in alliance with paramilitary forces. Guerrilla groups operating in the region were also responsible for killings and threats against members of the Wiwa population.

    By the time construction on the dam began in 2006, many members of Wiwa Indigenous communities were forcibly displaced from their homes.


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