Rachel Lim

Rachel Lim

In Rachel’s Own Words:

In high school, I was aware of Amnesty International’s mission but didn’t truly yet understand the depth of their human rights work.

In November of 2018, I was occupied with my duties as President of my high school’s Z-Club, a high school branch of Zonta International, an organization that empowers women and girls through service and advocacy. Around that time of year, we focus on preparing for the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. While researching current issues related to the campaign, I came across Amnesty International Canada’s online action and petition against the non-consensual sterilization of Indigenous women in Canada. After urging members of my club to sign the petition to end the coercive and forced sterilization of Indigenous women, I soon joined the Amnesty Mississauga Group 177, led by Mohamed Fetaih, Amnesty Canada fieldworker and Director.

While I’m still a Mississauga Group member, my experience in the Amnesty International Canada English Speaking (ES) community has since expanded to the National Organizers Program and other Amnesty structures. I am now a member of the Environmental Human Rights Defenders (EHRD) Sub-Team of the newly formed Climate Justice and Corporate Accountability Specialized Team and the MMIWGT2S and Women Environmental Defenders Sub-Teams for the Gender Rights Specialized Team. To ensure Amnesty Canada’s work is standardized on all levels, I serve as the Head of External Affairs at Amnesty International uOttawa, where I liaison between the local level (our university club) and the national level (Amnesty International Canada).

Most recently, during W4R 2020, I volunteered as a youth influencer on Instagram. I also spoke at the virtual write-a-thon Livestream on December 14, where I introduced the Jani Silva case alongside Kathy Price, Amnesty Canada’s lead campaigner for Latin America.

Something I admire about AI is its critical focus on youth leadership. In September, I was selected as a Visual Arts Editor and Graphic Designer for Amnesty Canada’s biannual arts and literature magazine by youth, for youth. A large factor of my desire to join The Matchstick Editorial Team was to ensure we recognize BIPOC artists, specifically Indigenous creators. As the Chair of Amnesty Canada’s Business and Human Rights + Indigenous Rights Specialized Team, I hope to further my solidarity work around Indigenous rights. I reside in Brampton, ON, on the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nations, the Anishinaabe, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples. It is my duty as a non-Indigenous person to commit myself to work against the systems of oppression that have dispossessed Indigenous peoples of their lands and denied their rights to self-determination on Turtle Island.

By having a role in various projects and sub-committees, I promote Amnesty’s mission in multiple outlets while ensuring I highlight Indigenous voices. My uOttawa Chapter hosted a virtual Climate Crusaders event, which featured Lakota and Mohawk water rights activist Makasa Lookinghorse, one of my contacts from a previous initiative (3 Teens for Clean Water). In November, our team also organized “A Night to Remember: A Discussion About Indigenous Rights,” where we had Indigenous activists, educators, and campaigners discuss the significance of Indigenous leadership in climate justice, Indigenous language revitalization, systemic racism in academia, and treaty rights.

Recently, I was chosen as one of five youth representatives to be a member of Amnesty International’s Youth Advisory Board, an internal network, part of the larger Global YAB. Together, Amnesty International (AI), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Soka Gakkai International (SGI) are partnering to develop a documentary film on stories of young human rights educators. Acceptance into this initiative was the highlight of my 2020 as I now anticipate the scheduled launch, in September 2021, in the United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, on the occasion of the UN Human Rights Council High-Level Panel Discussion.

Amnesty International has provided me with numerous opportunities to explore my strongest passions through engaging in meaningful human rights education. After completing my BSocSc, major in Conflict Studies and Human Rights and minor in Indigenous Studies, I hope to pursue graduate education, specializing in Indigenous issues. I only aim to continue immersing myself in this heart-wrenching field that has transformed me into a fearless agent of positive social change.

THANK YOU, Rachel!

Anisa Jama

Anisa Jama

In Anisa’s Own Words:

 As a young, black, Muslim woman, I understand the unique ways that systems of oppression work to negatively impact the lives of many. I am also the daughter of immigrants who had escaped civil unrest in a war-torn country. It is through this lens that I have cultivated a deep passion for social equity, advocacy and human rights activism. During my years of undergraduate study, I earned my B.A. in Criminology and Human Rights and although I wanted to be a voice for those who have routinely been silenced, I felt that I did not have a tangible means of doing so. I had the knowledge but not the tools for creating real, meaningful change.

I later learned about Amnesty International’s work during my time as a fundraiser. Here, I was able to get a glimpse into some of the urgent campaigns affecting many marginalized and disenfranchised communities. When I heard about the launch of the National Organizers program in the fall of 2018, I knew that I wanted to get involved. This was the beginning of actualizing my role as a global citizen through activism and advocacy. Since then, I have participated in numerous initiatives including those related to women’s rights, anti-racism, prisoners of conscience, Indigenous rights and climate change.

I am most proud of the letter writing actions that I have organized and participated in. The annual Write for Rights events in particular, have always been inspiring and empowering for me as an organizer. It is the reason why I have centered most of my activism around letter writing. In the past, I mobilized groups of volunteers to sign petitions and call on governments to take a stand against the abuse of Indigenous women including those defending the Amazon rainforest and those who have undergone forced sterilization here in Canada. More recently, I helped organize an international anti-Black racism letter writing online event which was in response to the heinous murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Regis Korchinski-Paquet. I appreciate that along with sending letters, we are encouraged to write cards in solidarity with those impacted by human rights abuses. These cards are then mailed directly to them as a reminder that they have not been forgotten and that we are actively fighting for their rights and freedoms.

The National Organizers program is a unique one which has shown me that I can make a difference both locally and abroad, regardless of my age or any other factors. It has also taught me the power of collective activism through our voices and actions.