DOXA Event Recap

The United Nations Association in Canada (Vancouver Branch) was pleased to sponsor a film at the 2017 DOXA Documentary Film Festival.


Photo of UNA Vancouver taken by Tara Flynn Development Manager, Doxa Documentary Film Festival

The screening of “Complicit” was held at VIFF’s VanCity Theatre on Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. The screening was well-attended, and the audience was clearly engaged in the issues presented in the film.

One of the highlights of the 2017 edition of the DOXA Festival is the Spotlight on Troublemakers, which celebrates courageous dissent in difficult circumstances. Our sponsored film provides an incredible first-hand look at the frontlines of China’s labour movement. It shines a light on the global electronic manufacturing industry in China, where 90% of the world’s consumer electronics are produced.

The featured activists are committed to taking on some of the world’s largest corporations, and they speak openly about abysmal working conditions. Young people work in buildings with poor ventilation, and handle chemicals which have been banned in industrialized Western countries for more than 40 years. Corruption and obstruction run deep, as workers struggle to deal with diagnosis and treatment of occupational diseases, many leading to serious illness or death

Complicit” was also included in the festival’s Justice Forum, so it was followed by a thought-provoking question and answer session led by two guest speakers. Cathy Walker is the former National Health and Safety Director of the CAW (Canadian Auto Workers Union) now UNIFOR. She has worked on China-related projects for the Canadian Labour Congress, the Vancouver & District Labour Council, and the BC Federation of Labour. Fiona Koza is a Business and Human Rights Campaigner at Amnesty International Canada. She works to hold companies accountable for human rights abuses and to ensure access to remedies for people who have been harmed.

The afternoon concluded with informal discussions with audience members who visited the UNAC information table in the lobby of the theatre.

We extend our thanks to our two guest speakers, and to all DOXA staff and volunteers for making this year’s festival such a success. We look forward to working together again next year!

DOXA Film Screening: Complicit

UNA-Vancouver is sponsoring the May 6th screening of Complicit, a documentary film about the detrimental health effects involved in the global electronics manufacturing industry in China.  Complicit is part of the festival’s Justice Forum; thus, it will host a Q&A after the screening. Directed by Heather White and Lynn Zhang, they aim:

to shine a light on what it’s really like for Foxconn factory workers, who produce devices for Apple and other companies.

The film, which was mostly shot undercover, follows Yi Yeting, a former Foxconn employee who was diagnosed with leukemia at the young age of 24. The cause? Benzene poisoning from a cleaning agent that was used while making the iPhone and iPad. Apple banned the substance, along with n-hexane, from its assembly lines back in 2014, following reports that it was leading to leukemia among factory workers. But Yeting is still fighting for Foxconn and other companies to acknowledge benzene poisoning and other issues.

Complicit debuted this past March at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London.

Tickets for the May 6th, 2017 screening at VanCity Theatre @ 2pm are on sale through DOXA. Ticket prices range from $11-$15.

To see other films included in DOXA’s 2017 program click here. DOXA runs from May 4th to May 14th.

2017 AGM with Marcia Kran

Marcia Kran. Photo from North Shore News.

We are proud to be welcoming a high-profile UN official as a speaker who will open our Annual General Meeting. Joining our membership for this unique and relevant event will be members of the public and officials, parents and students of the Burnaby School District.

Marcia Kran’s background includes a 35-year career as an international lawyer, senior manager roles in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Development Programme, and work as a professor of human rights law at UBC. Ms. Kran was elected Canada’s First UN Human Rights Committee member in over a decade. Committee members are independent experts who monitor implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a key UN treaty. The committee is the place where contentious human rights issues are brought forward, and recommendations are made in order to meet the international standards put in place by the UN.


Please join us on April 3rd, 2017 at:
Byrne Creek Community School’s Centre for Dialogue
7777-18th Street, Burnaby (8-minute walk south from Edmonds Skytrain Station)


6:30 – 6:45 UNAC Annual General Meeting
7:00 – 8:00 Marcia Kran keynote and Q&A
8:00 – 8:30 Reception – Coffee/tea and refreshments provided

Youth for Human Rights Day – Event Re-Cap

The Youth for Human Rights Foundation (B.C. chapter) and Ubuntu for Human Rights International Society co-organized an event dedicated to celebrating the International Day for Human Rights this past December 10th at The Metro (759 Carnarvon Street, New Westminster). One of the keynote speakers was Senator Mobina S.B. Jaffer (who is also an Honorary Patron of UNA-Vancouver). Several human rights groups such as UNA-Vancouver, the Global Peace Alliance, and Child Aid International were invited to host tables at the event. Each table had a representative talk about their group for a couple minutes so participants were able to learn about each organization.

The event began with a demonstration of 30 short videos dedicated to each human right listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted two years after the establishment of the United Nations Association of Canada in 1946. You can find these informative videos at

After a First Nations welcoming ceremony, Senator Jaffer highlighted the importance of human rights advocacy and, in particular , the rights of homeless people in Vancouver.

Akmal Bazarov speaking on behalf of UNA-Vancouver.

In his capacity as Director-at-Large in UNA-Vancouver, Akmal Bazarov shared information about the UNA in Canada and assured participants that the UNA of Canada continues to promote UN values indicated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN Conventions on human rights within its mandates in order to achieve the UN`s Sustainable Development Goals.

dsc_0024For example, in addition to supporting the principles outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Canada has ratified seven principal UN human rights conventions and covenants: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR – accession by Canada in 1976), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR – ratified by Canada in 1976), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT – ratified by Canada in 1987), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC – ratified by Canada in 1991), the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD – accession by Canada in 1970), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW – ratified by Canada in 1981), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD – ratified by Canada in 2010). As a ratifier, Canada must submit reports on how it implements each of these treaties.

We hope that this event contributed to raising awareness among Canadians on UN values and human rights, especially in the rapidly changing political situation in the world.


Who wins in Rio? A look at the social implications of sporting mega-events


Our Annual General Meeting will be taking place on Monday April 4th at Fairleigh Dickinson University.  We always pair our business meeting with a public lecture and this year we will be discussing the intersection of sports and human rights as they pertain to mega-events such as the Olympic Games and World Cup. With much controversy surround the upcoming 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janiero and the 2020 Qatar World Cup we have put together a panel of experts to help contextualize and add depth to the news items you may be reading, particularly as these events pertain to human rights issues.

The panel will be moderated by UNA-Vancouver  Co-President, Courtney Szto, with the three following panelists:

De LisioAmanda De Lisio (@a_delisio) is a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto from the Department of Exercise Sciences and the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies. Her work is anchored by questions concerning human nature and social life under urbanization and how, specifically, these are reconfigured in the staging/hosting of a (sport) mega-event. Previous work qualitatively assessed the impact of school-based health policies on young people living in 2010 Olympic host communities, while her dissertation interrogates the influence of event-led urbanism on local, informal economies such as sexual commerce. Given this focus, she collaborated with the Observatório da Prostituição (Prostitution Observatory), an extension project of the Metropolitan Ethnographic Lab (LeMetro/IFCS) at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro for the 2014 World Cup. This fieldwork has informed her writing on sport, sex and urban development.

NicolienNicolien van Luijk (@beantreesturtle) recently completed her PhD at the University of British Columbia in the School of Kinesiology. Her research critically examines the influence of international sporting institutions on local and global politics. Her PhD work explored the question ­­– who benefits from the burgeoning partnership between the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations?  Specifically, she questioned the UN’s involvement with and endorsement of the IOC, an undemocratic organization with a lengthy history of ignoring human rights abuses and unchecked exercises of power. In her previous work, Nicolien has considered the impact of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games on individuals who actively protested against the mega event. Nicolien is currently working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UBC.

MackinBob Mackin (@bobmackin) is a multimedia journalist whose work ranges from the North Shore News to The New York Times. He has covered the Turin, Beijing, Vancouver, and London Olympics and will be heading to Rio this summer. He has authored several books including Red Mittens & Red Ink: The Vancouver Olympics.

This is a free public event.

Date: Monday April 4th, 2016

Time: 7:00-8:30pm (panel to follow business meeting)

Location: Fairleigh Dickinson University, 842 Cambie Street (please take transit if possible because parking is limited, especially when there is a Canucks game)

The Canadian Refugee Crisis: Money isn’t the (whole) answer

unacto11.jpgThe following post was written by Hala Aurangzeb, one of our UNAC-Vancouver board members.

September 21- During an emotional conference at Vancouver’s City Hall, dozens of refugees and advocate organizations convened to discuss the issue of a worryingly slow family reunification process. B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond attended the conference with a number of interested parties, including representatives of the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance, and members of the City of Vancouver Board.

The discussion, framed by advocate organizations as concerning Canada’s obligation as a signatory of the UN convention on the rights of the child, was really brought home by accounts of the distressed newcomers present. Former refugees related their difficult stories of separation, as in the case of Khadija Ahmed, who was forced to choose between her children when coming to Canada, only to stay apart from her new-born and husband for six years[1].

Although the Canadian Government has announced to contribute $25 million towards faster refugee application processing, advocates worry that this further conflates the separate issues of faster processing for all applicants, and hastening the applications of those whose families have already left for Canada without them. The difference, according to health officials at Bridge Community Health Clinic in Vancouver, is long term mental and physical health issues which compound on the trauma they have experienced, rather than alleviating it. According to one medical expert, the anxiety and stress from their concern for loved ones often takes on very physical symptoms which are difficult to treat.

The reason for their anxiety, according to Turpel-Lafond, is a “far too complex and burdensome” bureaucracy. According government statistics the average time for processing Family Class Sponsorship applications has increased from 16 months in 2007, to 28 months in 2012. Sponsorship of children has gone up from 14 to 18 months, while parents and grandparents have deviated from 43 months to 58[3].

According to Chris Friesen of Immigration Services Society of BC, the hurdle of bureaucratic congestion could be eased by prioritizing family reunification– a process that already passed the test-drive when Canada took a lead in aiding refugees during the Kosovo crisis.

Moreover, advocates argue that CIC’s restrictive designation of the terms “family” and “child” impose a western understanding of those terms which may be removed from the realities of incoming refugees. According to CIC, the one-year window which allows refugees to sponsor non-accompanying family members under the same application, “family” is qualified as either a spouse or common-law partner of the primary applicant; a dependent child of the applicant, or applicant’s partner; or, a dependent grandchild.  As evinced by the stories shared, the brunt of such ethnocentric definition is felt by teenage children, young adults, and grandparents who remain questionably affiliated under CIC’s provisions as “family,” “dependent” or “child.”

Some advocates present questioned whether the current definitions under the Canadian Immigrant and Refugee Protection Regulations can grasp family ties, as they are perceived, elsewhere. Especially in communities affected by war, where companionship emerges in unrecognizable forms, and anyone who is the care taker of a child can become family without legal recognition.

Renate Shearer Human Rights Award to be presented to Indira Prahst Dec 11th

unacto1The United Nations Association in Canada, Vancouver Branch and The B.C. Human Rights Coalition  cordially invite you to a Celebration to Commemorate the 65th Anniversary of the   UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
JJ’s Restaurant- Vancouver Community College (3rd Floor)

250 West Pender Street – Vancouver, BC V6B 1S9 5:30 – 8:00 pm
Admission by donations

The 25th Anniversary presentation of the Renate Shearer Award will be made to:

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 8.00.27 PMIndira Prahst

In recognition of her exemplary commitment as an advocate, activist and educator on challenges related to intercultural and inter generational issues in the South Asian community of British Columbia

Hors d’ oeuvres, no-host bar and live music provided. Accessible facility, presentations begins at 6:15pm.

For additional information please call 604.689.8474

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 7.57.17 PMEach year, the Renate Shearer Memorial Award is presented to someone who has made an outstanding contribution in the filed of human rights. This award is a memorial to the life and work of Renate Shearer who was a champion of equality and dignity for all.
Link to pdf invite: Invite2013