My name is Alexa Guerrrier and I am 24 years old. I graduated from York University in 2019 with an Honors Degree in Political Science and a General Certificate in Law and Social Thought. It was in high school that I discovered my love for human rights and politics from the perspective of change and grassroots activism. I found my passion through one particular class: “Challenge and Change”, a class focused on preparing students for what comes next after high school and encouraging students to volunteer within their communities and learning networking skills. At that time I was unaware of the AI Canada’s National Organizers Program, however I think that had happened for a reason as I was able to reach out to that same class some five years later and do a Zoom presentation for the grade 11/12 class for Amnesty International’s biggest human rights initiative: the annual Write For Rights event.
My involvement with Amnesty International began with me as an observer, unaware that through my actions, I could be making a huge impact. My eyes being opened to human rights attrocities really started in 2015, when I wrote to the government of Canada calling for more awareness around genocide. At that time I could say I was young and bright eyed, thinking that a few simply worded letters crafted by an eager high schooler excited at the prospects of university, would immediately change the world. This is not to say that I have any regrets or embarrassment towards that time, however it did shape me for the experiences in university and in learning that human rights issues are not as black and white as one might perceive them to be.
It was the announcement of Covid-19 being a pandemic and feeling trapped, along with being unemployed, that led me to think that there had to be something that I could do, even if it were on a volunteer basis, to give me some experience in the human rights field. Thus began my journey as a Volunteer National Organizer with Amnesty International. I am still what I consider to be a novice in that role and a novice with regards to human rights activism, however that does not stop me in my drive to leave my mark in the human rights field and in being a catalyst for change.
My very first project with Amnesty International was one that legitimately brought tears to my eyes, because I was so surprised and amazed at the potential young people have with the proper guidance and encouragement. Five years after I had taken the “Challenge and Change” class myself and been challenged to make a difference in my future path I was lucky enough to be able to do a Zoom presentation to the same Challenge and Change class, except with a whole new generation of kids, with a new wealth of information in front of them, thus facilitating their activism if they so choose. To be honest at first I did not think I was going to get any responses, or that they were even listening to me as it was the last day before Christmas break. I thought that they would send just a few letters and do the assignment as they would with any run of the mill high school assignment. What I did not expect was the emails I received saying that I inspired them to look into human rights issues.
My ultimate career goal is to work in the Immigration and Refugees sector, to focus on grassroots activism and help individuals and families find better lives. I have an opportunity as an Amnesty volunteer to help individuals whose human rights are violated, and learn about the multifaceted ways in which human rights, activism and even politics are connected, so a positive experience would be an understatement in regards to my sentiments.
The fact that I get to learn myself and to educate the future generation which I will be accompanying for part of their journey is both eye opening and inspiring, and it will drive me to continue to leave a positive mark as I go along, especially when I receive from other young people responses such as: “Thank you so much for presenting the work that you do with Amnesty International to our class! I found it very empowering and decided to take part in it myself and send emails regarding the wrongful arrest of Gemain Rukuki. I really do believe that Write for Rights will make a difference and I look forward to future movements with Amnesty International.” – Liam
I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me in Amnesty International, and as long as I get to continue to learn myself and create a lasting impact on the youth of my generation, or even future generations I am all in and always ready to continue fighting for Human Rights!