Nisa Aliyeva

Nisa Aliyeva

In Nisa’s Own Words:

Picture of Nisa Aliyeva sitting at table smiling with two other Amnesty activistsI am a first-year student at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus, with a great passion for human rights. My interest in Amnesty International and community involvement was inspired by my mother. She worked with the UNHCR for many years and would bring home stories about refugees and their path to finding safety. Those stories had a huge impact on my life, and I developed a desire to help those who are in need of justice and safety.

I am currently a Youth Organizer with Amnesty International Canada and have volunteered with Amnesty in the GTA for over three years now. With every event and meeting I attend at Amnesty, I learn a lot about global issues and also meet inspiring people.

Nisa with fellow activists holding up signs with Human Rights solgans.For the past 3 years, I raised awareness in my high school about what is happening in the world, inspiring them to learn and to help bring justice to those in need. Due to my involvement with Amnesty, I helped get my school involved in different campaigns. One of the biggest one was the Butterflies for Mexico Campaign in support of the families of over 27,000 missing people in Mexico. For this campaign, I had the school students and staff draw over a hundred butterflies with messages of support for the families affected.

I have taken part in a number of Amnesty events and initiatives such as Pride Toronto, Women’s Marches, street actions in Kensington Market and represented the organization at the annual Volunteer Youth Expo Toronto. Currently, I am part of The Matchstick Newspaper Team (newly created AI youth newspaper) and recently joined the Amnesty Club at UofT.  

The community work I have done has affected me positively and motivated me to do more! Amnesty International Canada has helped me develop my experience and knowledge of human rights and taught me life-long skills – which I am sure I will use in the future. I hope to continue volunteering with AI and possibly take on a research role (which is a dream goal of mine). I want to become a Human Rights Lawyer and work for the United Nations. I want to defend victims of human rights abuses and become an advocate for social justice. I strongly recommend others to join Amnesty, to help those in need, and possibly grow a career path in the field of human rights.

THANK YOU, NISA!

Maha Asad

Maha Asad

Youth Leader, National Youth Advisory and Action Committee, AI Canada

In Maha’s words:

Maha at a protest holding a sign that has the Amnesty International logo on it.

I first found Amnesty International through an online posting for a youth council in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). I was 15, had never heard of AI before, and was just looking for a worthwhile place to get my volunteer hours for high school. I was always passionate about social justice.

However, AI gave me the opportunity to meet the most supportive and incredible student activists and staff and learn much more about human rights issues. Knowing my work could save lives couldn’t have been more worthwhile!

Maha with fellow activist holding signs about Mexico and Canada solidarity.

I started out with simple campaign actions – petitioning, going to AITO events, letter-writing and meeting with the GTA youth council. In 2017, I went to the Human Rights College and AGM in Calgary, which was a really great training event that enabled me to do a lot more as a youth activist. I was happy to find out about a small AI section in my hometown. However, after I attended a meeting in Ajax I was concerned as everyone else was probably three times my age. To counter this, I contacted one of the leaders and worked with her that summer to create a youth group for the Durham region. A few other girls from the GTA group and I were also working on a project called The Matchstick, a human rights newspaper by youth, for youth. I moved to Montreal in the fall for University and joined AI’s chapter at McGill. In May 2018, I had the privilege of representing AI Canada at AI’s first international youth summit in Nairobi, Kenya. Now, I’m working on re-establishing NYAAC, the National Youth Action and Advisory Committee. Young activists have a spark-like energy and unwavering persistence that I find so uplifting – I couldn’t be more content working to make sure they’re effectively included in AI’s human rights movement.

Maha smiling in group photo with other Amnesty activists.

Maha at a protest holding a sign saying

It can sometimes feel very overwhelming and disheartening to keep hearing news of human rights violations despite all the effort you’re putting in. So when you read about the small success stories, it can make a huge difference! A prisoner of conscience finally being released, a change to a discriminatory law being made, or seeing that the letters you wrote made someone feel safer and heard. They’re a reminder that my volunteer work can have a real and meaningful impact. It teaches you so much more than being globally informed; joining AI has taught me (and is still teaching me) to be a more humble, empathetic, and resilient person.

THANK YOU, MAHA!