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Defenders for Human Rights

Other Human Rights Defenders

The purpose of Speak Truth to Power Canada is to share the personal journeys of some of the many Canadian human rights defenders working today. As lesson plans are thematic and many Canadians assume the responsibility to advance human rights, every lesson plan also includes community-based defenders. It is hoped that your students may be inspired to identify themselves as human rights defenders and take positive action to support human rights in their own life and community. Perhaps your students will become community defenders themselves.

Raul Gatica

An indigenous Ñuu Savi poet originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, Raul Gatica is a past Surrey Agricultural Workers Alliance (AWA) coordinator and advocate for migrant workers, positions where he has been a voice for migrant agricultural workers to their bosses and to the general public. Gatica now runs a Spanish-language critical and cultural radio program, Ecos de mi pueblo, directed specifically at indigenous communities. The program hosts workers, activists, and academics in discussions about issues faced by indigenous people and agricultural workers. Gatica received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for his work.

  • Cultural Identity and Education
  • Labour Rights

Walking With Our Sisters

Walking With Our Sisters is a collaborative art installation remembering the more than 1,100 indigenous women who have been murdered or have gone missing in the past 30 years. The project uses a pair of vamps – moccasin tops – for each individual woman. The unfinished moccasin represents the unfinished life. In 2012, Métis artist Christi Belcourt made a call for donations of specially made vamps on Facebook, hoping for support in the project. By just over a year later, she had received 1,600 pairs – more than doubling her goal of 600. The installation, which has travelled across North America, seeks not only to remember and to support families, but also to raise awareness of the ongoing mysteries of many of the disappearances.

  • Truth and Reconciliation
  • Human Trafficking
  • Cultural Identity and Education

Leesee Papatsie

Seeing exorbitant food prices in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and a struggle among Inuit families to put food on the table, Leesee Papatsie created the Feeding My Family movement on Facebook in 2012. She chose social media to unite the isolated communities of the North. The group now has upwards of 20,000 members who have organized protests and promoted a return to “country food” – more traditional diets based on the food directly available in the north. Papatsie’s movement seeks to combine modern communication with Inuit tradition, uniting northerners and encouraging food providers to find ways to supply better food for lower prices.

  • Children’s Health and Wellness
  • Cultural Identity and Education

Idle No More

Initiated by Nina Wilson, Sheelah Mclean, Sylvia McAdam, and Jessica Gordon’s Saskatchewan teach-in in late 2012, Idle No More is a national grassroots movement to build indigenous sovereignty. It aims to do so through peaceful protest pressuring the Canadian government to protect treaty rights and the environment. The movement gained national attention with its first Day of Action on December 10, 2012, which urged the federal government to protect indigenous land and rights, and to abandon the Northern Gateway pipeline project. Through media coverage and social media, Idle No More has spread across Canada, and continues to raise discussion about indigenous rights.

  • Truth and Reconciliation
  • Cultural Identity and Education
  • Equitable Education for All