Montreal Downtown (Group 16)

Amnesty International Group 16 is the community group serving central Montreal’s English-speaking population.  We are a dynamic and diverse group of people brought together by our concern to end human rights abuses around the world.  Our group members are of many ages and backgrounds, and include many long-time Amnesty activists as well as new members who have joined recently.

During our regular monthly meetings, members plan events and activities to raise awareness of human rights in the community, learn about human rights situations through guest speakers, videos and presentations by other Amnesty members, and engage in human rights campaigns directed by Amnesty International’s national and international secretariats. Attending the monthly meetings is an important way for members to become involved in Group 16’s human rights work, and joining a sub-group or taking on some other position in Group 16 lets members choose their particular areas of interest and best use their personal skills.


New Members

If you are interested in joining Amnesty or Group 16, we would encourage you to just come along to one of the meetings listed below.  At your first meeting, you’ll hear reports about activities we’ve run, activities to come, news from the international branch of Amnesty, and requests to sign letters and/or petitions from the various sub-groups (please don’t hesitate to ask questions!).  We also have either an invited speaker or video in the second half of our meetings, of which follows some discussion on the topics (see the speaker/topic list below).  You do not need any previous experience in Amnesty or other human rights groups, just come along and find out what interests you!

The English Speaking section of Amnesty International has no permanent facilities in Montreal, nor do we have any paid staff members in the city.  All our members are volunteers who attend our monthly meetings and meet separately in sub-groups when necessary.  We are always very happy to meet new volunteers, but on the understanding that all work in Montreal is unpaid and is done by attending our group meetings and sub-group meetings.


Monthly Meeting Schedule

When?  Group 16 usually meets on the third Sunday of the month from September to May, and runs from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm.  Dates and topics for monthly meetings are subject to change (see below).

Where? Downtown Montreal YMCA, 1440 Stanley Street (near the Peel metro station). The meetings take place on the fifth floor in room 521 (take the elevator).  Notices are posted in the YMCA to show you towards the elevators, and to the left upon exiting them.

Each meeting is divided into two parts: the first part deals with the current and future activities of Amnesty International, and in particular, Group 16’s.  The second part of each meeting involves a guest speaker, video presentation, or workshop on a variety of topics organized by one of the Group 16 sub-groups.

Upcoming Meeting Schedule (2017-2018)

*Please note that the views expressed by speakers at AI Group 16 meetings are not necessarily those of the organization or its members.  

Monthly Meeting Schedule

When?  Group 16 usually meets on the third Sunday of the month from September to May, and runs from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm.  Dates and topics for monthly meetings are subject to change (see below).


  • June 2018 – Annual Potluck 
  • Visit our site during the summer and fall as we post news about our 2018-2019 activities.   


  • Sunday, May 27, 2018 – Michaela MayerMichaela Mayer will present an overview of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNRIP), which is now again in the media in regard to Romeo Saganash’s bill (Bill C-262), bringing all national Canadian norms in harmony with this declaration. She will outline what the declaration contains, its background and in fact, what indigenous rights mean in general/within a human rights context, including examples referring to Canadian context, i.e. regarding consultation/consent requirements on pipeline projects etc.

     Michaela’s  background:

    Throughout my graduate studies of International Development (Development Studies) and International Law, I focused particularly on Indigenous Peoples and their rights. I have additionally worked as a volunteer and legal advisor for an alliance of European human rights groups working specifically on in the situation of Indigenous Peoples in North America.. Through that work, I had the opportunity to participate at several UN conferences on Indigenous Peoples in Geneva and New York, when the UNDRIP was still in negotiation. Once adopted in in 2007 by the UN General Assembly, I wrote my thesis on the UNDRIP focusing particularly on what role the UNDRIP could play for Indigenous Peoples in Canada/British Columbia. Here in Montreal, I now work for Voices-Voix, a non-profit coalition of Canadians and Canadian organizations committed to defending collective and individual rights to dissent, advocacy and democratic space. As editorial coordinator, I also just wrote a case on the consultation mechanism on the Trans Mountain pipeline and I am in the process of writing the case study on Bill C-262.



  • Sunday, April 15, 2018 –  Thubten Samdup

    Born in Lhasa Tibet in 1951, Thubten Samdup pursued a career in the arts and was later the recipient of a John D. Rockefeller 3rd Fund Scholarship, under which he studied ethno-musicology at Brown University. In 1980 Samdup moved to Canada where he served as President of the Tibetan Cultural Association of Quebec.

    In 1987 he co-founded the Canada Tibet Committee, and in 1990 Samdup was elected as the first member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile representing the Tibetans in North America.

    Thubten later proposed and oversaw the establishment of the International Tibet Network, a coalition of more than 100 Tibet groups from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. 

    In 2008, Thubten Samdup’s prominence in the Tibetan community rose after launching his personal initiative – Kalon Tripa Candidate’s Campaign, which sparked an unprecedented level of interest from the Tibetan populace on the 2011 Kalon Tripa Election.

    In 2009 Samdup was appointed as Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Office of Tibet, London, a position he held until September 2014. 

    Samdup is the recipient of numerous awards.



  • Sunday, March 18, 2018 – Jonathan Sasson
    Jonathan Sasson has worked since 2013 at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), Canada’s largest independent administrative tribunal. With experience and knowledge of the different divisions at the IRB, Jonathan will focus on its different sections and the important role played by the IRB in Canadian society. Jonathan is additionally a co-founder of Operation Evac, a non-profit organization launched by young law school graduates aimed at making a difference in the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Syria. They have currently raised more than $1000 and have a team of 25 individuals. Invite your friends to join us.
  • Sunday, February 18, 2018: Come and hear Dwane Connors at our next meeting
    Dwane Connors is a forensic criminologist with 29 years’ experience with service in the military, police, and the United Nations, most notably with the International War Crimes Tribunal and The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Criminology from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom and a Master of Science Degree equivalency in Criminal Justice from the University of Toronto. Mr. Connors is also certified in criminal intelligence analysis with the RCMP. His areas of expertise include organized crime and human trafficking, security management and counter terrorism, as well as police reform and anti-corruption. He has served in the former Yugoslavia, throughout the African continent, and more recently in Afghanistan. Mr. Connors has led a team of investigators and research experts who wrote an investigative report for the South African National Prosecuting Authority on human trafficking syndicates and victim profiling in the Southern African Development Community. 

    We’ll be starting our meeting at 5:00 p.m. by taking care of group business. Bring your letters and petitions for signing during this time!

    When? 5:00 p.m Sunday, February 18.
    Where? Room 521, Downtown YMCA, Opposite Peel metro




    11 a.m. – 6 p.m

    Write cards of support to activists chosen by AI, for Intntl. Human Rights Day. 
    Organised annually by Amnistie internationale. Location: open area inside Place des Arts metro/corridor, near stairs to Complexe Desjardin.

    All welcome!


  • NOVEMBER 25 ** SPECIAL EVENT**:  Group 16 and Amnistie internationale, Section francophone will be at this year’s Tibetan Bazaar.  Come and visit us, sign our petitions and learn more about Amnesty International and human rights.The Tibetan Bazaar will be held from 10:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. on November 25 atEglise Santa Cruz
    60 Rachel West between Clark and Saint Urbain
    You can learn more about the Bazaar here:



  • Sunday, November 19, 2017:  Join Group 16 for a talk on Indigenous rights at the downtown YMCA at 6:30, November 19. (Details below)  Before that, we’ll be taking care of group business starting at 5 p.m.  You are welcome to join us!

    The Clash of Indigenous and Human Rights with Northeast B. C. Energy Development

    A presentation by the Indigenous Human Rights actiton group on AI’s Nov. 2016 Out of Sight, Out of Mind report. It supports protecting the safety and wellness of Indigenous women in northeast BC, an area with massive hydroelectric, oil, gas, and coal projects damaging the Indigenous communities there.



  • October 15, 2017: Our October meeting marks the launch of our 2017-2018 speaker series.  You can join us for the business part of our meeting starting at 5 p.m. or come at 6:30 to hear our speaker.   This month’s speaker will be Moyad Al Marzoki.Moyad Al Marzoki is a 32-year-old Syrian who arrived in Canada in March 2016 as part of a convoy of 25,000 refugees. He has become something of a local celebrity since his arrival in Montreal for his honest portrayals of his own and his family’s plight. Moyad has been featured on radio, on television, and in the daily press…in both official languages. He’ll share his life experiences with us, focusing on both Syria and Canada.His mother and sisters are still in Damascus and are in great danger. Moyad fled his country with one of his brothers to avoid being recruited by the army.To learn more about Moyad, click below:


  • September 17. 2017:  Come and join Group 16 as we get ready for a brand new year of Amnesty activism in Montreal.  We will be organizing into groups around various human rights topics and setting our goals for the 2017-2018 year, which includes our regular speaker series.  Come and meet us September 17.  We’ll be in room 521 of the downtown YMCA from 5:00-7:30 p.m. The YMCA is at 1440 Stanley Street, across the road from the Peel metro station.


Our schedule for the year is determined in the September meeting.  If the meeting schedule changes, we will update this page as soon as possible, so please re-visit this page before going to a meeting.



Group 16 members work in specialized teams called action groups, with each actions group focusing on a particular geographic area or theme in Amnesty’s human rights efforts. Members may belong to more than one, and can join in on any activities they choose in addition to their action group involvement.

Our current action groups work on these topics:

Human Rights Defenders :   

Defenders around the world need your help!

Human rights defenders are people who stand up for justice in sometimes extraordinary circumstances. But they are under attack. Around the world, these brave people who take a stand are being undermined by smear campaigns, government surveillance, unjust imprisonment and forced disappearance. Thousands have been killed. We all want to live in a world where justice is possible and human rights are protected. But that is only possible if human rights defenders are protected. We must defend the defenders.

We defend them. Will you?

Indigenous Peoples :   Centuries of racism and dispossession have denied Indigenous peoples the opportunity to enjoy their basic human rights.  In every continent in the world, Indigenous peoples are among the most marginalized, impoverished and frequently victimized members of society.  In the face of widespread violence and oppression, Indigenous peoples are standing up for their rights – and challenging the international system to evolve and grow in exciting new directions. Directions that will help ensure that human rights guaranteed to all can actually be enjoyed by all.

Amnesty International members work in collaboration with Indigenous peoples across Canada and around the world to campaign for political and legal reform to end discrimination and uphold the rights guaranteed in national laws, historical and contemporary Treaties and international standards.

Middle East :   <write-up  soon>

Refugees :   We are currently in the midst of an unprecedented refugee and internally displaced person (IDP) crisis. The number of people forced to flee their homes across the world has reached nearly 60 million for the first time since the Second World War with 4.8 million refugees just from the Syrian conflict alone. As of the end of 2015, a record-breaking 38 million people were forcibly displaced within their own country by violence.

AI will need to take forward this work by focusing on 1-2 issues that benefit from amplification and support broader work on refugees/protection of people on the move, specifically:  (1) Responsibility-sharing for the global refugee crisis, (2) Access to effective protection, and (3) Protecting refugees and migrants in transit.


If you have a question about Group 16 that is not answered above, please write to us at and put the word ‘Amnesty’ in the subject of your message.  Please note you do not need to write to ask whether you can come along to one of our meetings: everyone is welcome to attend, so just turn up!

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