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Canada sanctions dozens in Russia, Iran, Myanmar ahead of global Human Rights Day

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OTTAWA — Canada is sanctioning dozens of officials and companies from three of the world’s most oppressive regimes, but groups argue Ottawa should do much more to mark the global Human Rights Day on Saturday.

Ottawa announced Friday it will freeze any Canadian assets held by 67 people and nine entities in Russia, Iran and Myanmar.

The sanctions are meant to mark International Human Rights Day on Saturday, although experts have said that Ottawa lacks the capacity to monitor and enforce its existing sanctions.

Those on the list include officials who have cracked down on protests against the Russian and Iranian regimes, as well as some of Iran’s state media outlets.

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Russia’s justice department and elections commission have been sanctioned, as has its federal penitentiary service.

In Myanmar, the sanctions apply to military rulers who ousted the country’s democratically elected government in 2021 and helped arm those suppressing protests and minorities.

“We can only create change by standing up and defending the values that we hold dear,” Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said in a statement, adding that “there is more work to be done.”

Human-rights groups say that’s a massive understatement.

“Canada is falling short of our obligations, especially in light of our possibilities and our capacities,” said John Packer, director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday ahead of International Human Rights Day, Packer said Canada should go beyond sanctions and piecemeal projects to deploy experts to fragile states that want better governance and human-rights monitoring.

“The government of Canada is out of step with the people of Canada, who repeatedly call for human rights, humanitarian principles and freedom to be upheld as clear obligations and our central values.”

Packer argued that Canada should recognize China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority as a genocide, which the governing Liberals say should only be done if ongoing United Nations investigations find that to be the case.

Others at the press conference pointed out that Canada hasn’t stopped imports of goods made using forced labour, even since a 2019 bill pledging to do so came into effect in June 2021.

In contrast, American regulations have stopped hundreds of shipments, including from the Xinjiang region where Uyghurs live.

Thomas Woodley, the head of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, argued that the U.S. has been more vocal than Canada in pushing back on recent rhetoric by Israel’s new government around a possible annexation of the West Bank.

Ireland, which beat Canada for a spot on the UN Security Council, has been similarly vocal about the expansion of Israeli settlements into Palestinian territory that likely violate international law.

“Human rights is not a feel-good thing,” Woodley said.

“There’s a price to pay in defending human rights and at times, yes, you will lose opportunities, because you stood up for something that needs standing up for.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2022.

 

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

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Harjit Sajjan tweets about raising Qatar human rights at World Cup after criticism

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OTTAWA — International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan has tweeted about raising human rights concerns during his visit to Qatar for the World Cup after opposition criticism.

The NDP and the Bloc took Sajjan to task on Thursday because he had not made any public statement about Qatar’s documented mistreatment of migrant workers and the emirate’s anti-LGBTQ policies.

Both parties had called on the Liberals to diplomatically boycott the games instead of sending Sajjan.

When asked Thursday whether he raised these issues during the trip, Sajjan’s office responded that he was flying home and could not comment.

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Hours after The Canadian Press reported on the criticism of Sajjan’s visit, he tweeted that he met with local labour organizations and that he had “constructive dialogue” with Qatari officials on migrant and LGBTQ rights.

The tweets did not directly criticize the emirate’s policies.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2022.

 

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

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Centre A Brings Back the Holiday Art Market and Will Transform Gallery Space Into a Tropical Cafe for the Second Iteration of the Silent Auction

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Vancouver, B.C., Canada (November 23, 2022) – Centre A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is proud to announce Tropical Cafe: 2022 Centre A Holiday Art Market, the second iteration of Centre A’s annual end-of-year event.

 

With the participation of over 30 local artists, we will be transforming the gallery into a cafe-like space that will be furnished with artworks submitted to us by local and regional artists. The Tropical Cafe is not only a gathering place, but also a site for exchange, ignition, and clashes of ideas and ideals.

 

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Opening Reception:

 

Friday, November 26, 6 PM – 9 PM

 

Join us for this celebration! Many of the participating artists will be in attendance.

 

Location:

 

Unit 205, 268 Keefer Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V6A 1X5

 

Gallery Hours:

 

Wednesday to Saturday, 12 PM – 6 PM

 

About the Event:

 

Tropical Cafe: 2022 Centre A Holiday Art Market: It’s that time of the year again! Centre A is bringing back its thematic Holiday Art Market after last year’s inaugural edition.

 

With a cold winter approaching after a warm fall, you won’t have to get on a plane to change your scenery! Come enjoy the sun and tropical vibes at Centre A and shop art for the holiday season!

 

This year’s theme is Tropical Cafe, and we will be transforming the gallery into a cafe-like space that will be furnished with over fifty artworks submitted to us by more than thirty talented local and regional artists. The Tropical Cafe is not only a gathering place, but also a site for exchange, ignition, and clashes of ideas and ideals.

About Centre A

Centre A is situated in Vancouver’s Chinatown, on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. We honour, respect, and give thanks to our hosts. Centre A gratefully acknowledges the support of all of our funders, donors, programming partners, and Centre A members.

Centre A is the only public art gallery in Canada dedicated to contemporary Asian and Asian-diasporic perspectives since 1999. Centre A is committed to providing a platform for engaging diverse communities through public access to the arts, creating mentorship opportunities for emerging artists/arts professionals, and stimulating critical dialogue through provocative exhibitions and innovative public programs that complicate understandings of migrant experiences and diasporic communities. In addition to our exhibition space, we house a reading room with one of the best collections of Asian art books in the country, including the Finlayson Collection of Rare Asian Art Books.

The gallery is wheelchair and walker accessible. If you have specific accessibility needs, please contact us at +1 (604) 683-8326 or info@centrea.org.

Subscribe to Centre A’s newsletter here.

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Media Contact

Dyana Kim

info@centrea.org

 

Centre A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art205-268 Keefer Street, Vancouver, BC V6A 1X5centrea.orgTel: +1 604-683-8326Fax: +1 604-683-8632Email: info@centrea.org
Subscribe to our newsletter: centrea.org/subscribe
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Ukrainian refugees embrace peace and quiet in Canada as war rages on

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OTTAWA — Inna Fomina is keeping a watchful eye on her one-year-old son Adrian as he plays in peaceful contentment on a carpet at an improvised space in western Ottawa.

Less than two months after mother and son arrived in Canada after the war in Ukraine forced them to flee, she’s been savouring the peace and quiet of her new home.

Fomina is visiting the café and drop-in centre, which was opened by the local Canadian Ukrainian community to help refugees like her.

“It’s another planet here,” she said with a smile.

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“Everything is so big: houses, cars.”

Her story is one of horror and displacement, but also one of hope and resilience.

The young mother has moved around frequently in recent months.

She’s originally from Kremenchuk in central Ukraine, on the banks of the Dnipro River. The city suffered heavy bombardment from Russian forces.

While she fled the bombs with her son, her husband remained behind and continues to work in the IT field. As a fighting-age man, he can’t leave.

Fomina never believed war was truly possible until the moment it began in  February, she told The Canadian Press.

“My father joked about it,” she said.

But one morning, at 6 a.m., she got the call from her mother-in-law: Kharkiv was under attack.

“I thought it would only last a few days,” she said. She was wrong.

Her parents’ village was partially destroyed. They fled. Fomina and her family briefly lived in an apartment with then two-month-old Adrian, but she ultimately decided to flee her bombed city and seek refuge in Canada.

“We were going to have to start from zero one day,” she said.

Her journey began with a trip to western Ukraine, then a 32-hour bus ride from Lviv to Lyon, in France.

The reason for that trip, she said, was to fulfill the complex criteria needed for admittance to Canada. That included submitting biometric data, which she said could not be accomplished from Ukraine or Poland.

It took her six months to get the proper paperwork before she was able to make the move to Canada at the beginning of October.

Fomina and her son are living in a small apartment and receiving help from the network of Ukrainian Canadians who opened the café. She’s hoping for a job in the computer science field.

One recent day, the café was presenting a documentary on the Ukrainian resistance, in association with the Ukrainian Embassy in Ottawa.

Sitting at the bar was Borys Syrskyj, a 69-year-old retired soldier. He wanted to enlist in Ukraine, but was refused because of his age. Now, he volunteers at the café.

Some six million Ukrainians have fled to neighbouring Poland, according to Anton Struwe, another volunteer. Some chose to stay there, while many others have left, or planned to.

The groups helping the refugees in Canada have their hands full: the newcomers need food, housing, furniture, jobs, schools and more.

At the café, a doctor who went to Ukraine in the spring to help the wounded stops by to offer his services to the newcomers who need a consultation. A worker takes down his name for future reference.

“Every pair of hands can help,” Syrskyj says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 21, 2022.

 

Patrice Bergeron, The Canadian Press

 

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