Melanie Morrison (right) was one of 10 people the francophone branch of Amnesty International Canada focused on for its annual Write for Rights campaign. (Courtesy Gilles Pilette)
Leading up to International Human Rights Day, Amnesty International supporters from around the world came together to write letters to human rights defenders, including Kahnawa’kehró:non Melanie Morrison.
“It means our voices are being heard. It means that we’re making a difference. The people are showing that they’re aware of the cause, aware of our fight, and are showing their support, which is great,” said Morrison.
Morrison has been involved in raising awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women for over a decade. In June 2006, her sister Tiffany disappeared and an investigation was opened by the Peacekeepers. While her remains were found in 2010, the case was transferred to the Surete du Quebec with no conclusive leads.
At a Write for Rights marathon at Maison du développement durable in Montreal on December 9, Morrison received over 300 cards with messages of support and encouragement.
“It was really moving to receive the cards that were sent in,” she said.
“It renews your hope that people are listening. A lot of the times it can very stressful and seem like you’re just banging your head against the wall and nobody is listening, so it’s reassuring and uplifting to get those words of encouragement.”
The event was organized by the francophone branch of Amnesty International Canada as a part of the organization’s global campaign.
“It’s very important because it’s a campaign that can catch a bigger audience of people who could be interested in human rights,” said Béatrice Vaugrante, directrice générale of Amnesty’s francophone branch in Canada.
“They write to people who are imprisoned, endangered or seek justice. It works because people imprisoned received 500-5,000 messages and for three people out of four, they are freed because it does bring pressure on the authorities.”
For many years, the organization has also been advocating for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, calling for a national action plan and inquiry.
“We’re happy about the inquiry and hope it will be sorted out. But, we really want to show the maximum support to the families. I think it’s really important to put the families in the hearts of this process of seeking justice and remedies,” said Vaugrante.
In May, Morrison was one of four Indigenous women, as well as Alicia Keys, to be awarded the organization’s ambassador of conscious award.
“We want to show her that it’s a continued support,” said Vaugrante. “It’s so unbelievable that in Montreal, sometimes this is still pretty unknown of the story of Tiffany Morrison. Unfortunately too often when we talk about an Indigenous woman that disappeared or was murdered, it doesn’t make the mainstream news. That’s why we want to be on this side of Melanie and her family, and recognize the work she’s been carrying on in the name of her sister.”
The campaign runs until the end of January. Messages can be sent online or mailed the Amnistie internationale Canada francophone office in Montreal.
“Last year, we reached 64,000 messages, and we hope we can really be even better this year,” said Vaugrante.
“Everybody can do something for human rights, and it’s a campaign to prove it.”