Human rights are important

"I'd rather have 10 people be aware and write a letter to an MP, than many more just sign a pre-formatted petition," says Nolan Remedios, Chair and Liaison of Capilano University's Amnesty International Club, expressing the group’s approach to activism and awareness. Remedios and a few other students were inspired to set up the club after attending a lecture and realizing they shared a vision to spread awareness on human rights in the university.

Formed in mid-October, the group is still in the stage of planning events to be carried out over the year and they are full of ideas. Some proposed events include a letter-writing workshop, a fundraising dinner called "A Taste for Justice," and a film festival involving the film department at Capilano University.

"We want to be as accessible as possible to students. It's about awareness, not shoving fliers in people's faces."

As a global organization, Amnesty International focuses public attention on issues around Indigenous rights, corporate accountability, maternal health and international justice. Students familiar with the work of Amnesty International might recognize their campaigns on human rights on an international scale, however, the student clubs tend to focus on regional and local issues as well.

"Vancouver has one of the worst cases of homelessness," says Remedios, citing an example of human rights abuses close to home. "We become complacent [in] that we feel abuse happens abroad and that it's foreign to us. This idea supports those who perpetuate the abuse." According to Remedios, university is just the place for such discussion to take place. "If not here, then where? Social awareness is a huge component of the student psyche. People want to understand Canada's international role in human rights."

Some members of the Social Justice Committee have expressed concern about thepossible overlap between both groups' events and interests; however, Amnesty International is looking forward to collaborating with the committee on future events.

The club's connection to Amnesty International also contributes to the success of its endeavours.

"The members of our campus clubs are an incredibly important part of Amnesty International, and are often involved in local, regional and national volunteer work with us,” explains Don Wright, Regional Development Coordiantor for Amnesty International BC. “We have youth members on a variety of committees across Canada, including on our national board of directors.”

"Awareness comes down to two aspects: mental and active. The first part involves gaining knowledge of something you didn't know and the second part involves acting on the knowledge – this is the preferred step," says Remedios. It doesn't occur to many of us that even something as simple as writing a letter is an action and makes an impact, even if it's a small one.

In the meantime, the Amnesty International club will be doing their part in reaching out to students. Their first step will be to set up a Facebook page and use other social media tools. They also hope to use printed media, events and contests, and invite students to attend their open meetings on Thursdays at 11:30 am.

Anyone interested can refer to the Amnesty International Club in the Capilano Clubs website to find out more about the club and where they meet.

Film Festival: Amnesty International is providing student pricing for their upcoming film festival, which features 21 award-winning films from the world that tell stories about human rights. Find out more at

//Sarah Mansour

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