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.
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.