Comox Valley Amnesty International takes action with the annual Write for Rights campaign to do the ‘write’ thing and demand justice for youth in Grassy Narrows, Ontario. CV Amnesty invites the community to join us in standing up for the rights of  these and other youth defenders of human rights on Monday, December 9, between 4 and 6 pm at the Courtenay Library.

Youth in the northwestern Ontario Indigenous Anishnaabe community of Grassy Narrows First Nation is the highlighted case.Write for Rights is a global letter- writing campaign offering the public the opportunity to write on human rights issues and bring meaningful change to people and groups who need support to uphold their human rights.

This year, all cases focus on young people under the age of 25 leading the way for human rights. Write for Rights will celebrate and acknowledge these incredible youth

who are a force for change in their respective communities.  Last year, more than 5 million messages were sent to world leaders demanding human rights progress. This year, activists are aiming to replicate that success, focusing on cases where young  peoples’ rights are being violated  and action is urgently needed.

In Grassy Narrows, youth are fighting for a healthy future. Starting in the 1960s, the Ontario government allowed a pulp mill to dump 10 tons of mercury into the English and Wabigoon Rivers, contaminating fish and the waterways. Fishing is central to Grassy Narrows’ way of life, and used to provide food and jobs for community members before mercury. Today, 50 years later, mercury continues to impact the health, cultural traditions, and wellbeing of the community, harms perpetuated by continued government inaction. Youth are leading the way in demanding the Canadian government keep its promises to address the crisis, which includes providing specialized health supports for all those impacted.

Other global cases include Magui Matiop Ngong, sentenced to death at 15 in South Sudan, for an accidental shooting, Ibrahim Ezra Ell-din, disappeared in Egypt while documenting forced evictions, and Sarah Mardini and Sean Binder facing jail in Greece for volunteering to assist refugees arriving at sea. More information about these and other cases can be found at writeathon.ca

When hundreds of thousands of people around the world get together and send a clear message demonstrating they will stand by a person or group whose human rights are being violated, the impact is huge. It gives people the strength to keep going.” Says Amnesty International. “It also sends a message to those who are violating human rights that they cannot keep their crimes secret because the world is watching. Every letter, email and petition signature chips away at the problem.”

Please join us for holiday cookies and letter writing. For questions about this event, contact Lois, 250-941-1864

Sheila Clarson

Thank you on behalf of Comox Valley Amnesty International Group.