n Canada and abroad - Amnesty International has been an eloquent and powerful voice when it comes to human rights. The Secretary General of the Canadian branch of AI since 2000 -- and a recent Queens Diamond Jubilee medal recipient -- Alex Neve has been a powerful advocate for human rights for decades.
Don't underestimate the power of a letter, especially the power of many pens. Sandi Rae, a teacher at Mt. Slesse Middle School in Chilliwack, B.C. recently wrote an email -- that counts as a letter, right? -- telling us about her Grade 9 Leadership class and their letter-writing campaign to protest funding cuts for the Rainier Hotel in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
From personal attacks to commendable recommendations -- this is the legacy of a UN final report on the right to food in Canada. Prepared Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, following his mission to Canada last May, the report illustrates that current programs and policies are not enough to fend-off food insecurity felt by millions and calls for greater federal action.
With little fanfare, Canada was scolded last month by both the United Nations and Amnesty International over its human rights record. Yes you read this correctly -- Canada. The two areas that attracted the most attention by the UN/ Amnesty International human rights experts were Canada's record when it came to refugees and internally the manner in which we continue to discriminate against our First Nations people. As Canadians we consider ourselves to be open, honest -- a welcoming society. Yet for those from afar struggling to build a new life and for our First Nations right here struggling to change their lives for the better, that openness rings very hollow.
One of the most touching pieces of testimony at the UN Watch conference was a letter smuggled out of Iran's notorious Evin Prison. I have put this letter into the record of the Senate as a show of solidarity with the author, a brave ayatollah whose only crime was to advocate for the separation of religion and government.