Writing for Rights

Tuesday, December 25, 2018 - By: Sarah R, Mackenzie ‘20

Every year, in honour of International Human Rights Day on December 10th, Amnesty International launches a campaign called Write for Rights. Identifying individuals and communities facing human rights violations, they create a method for concerned citizens to partake in meaningful global action through the writing of letters urging governments to take action, or offering messages of solidarity and encouragement to the victims of these abuses. 

As part of this global effort, Brentwood’s English classes, coordinated and inspired by Ms Hedquist, contribute hundreds of letters every year. What better way is there to spend some of the final English classes of 2018 than making a difference on global human rights issues? 

As Crooks Hall was transformed into a letter-writing space, students gathered to sip mugs of tea or hot chocolate while unleashing their pens to write for the justice of those involved in the cases that interested them the most. With ten diverse cases, ranging from the violent eviction of Kenya’s Sengwer Indigenous People from their traditional territory, to the persecution of individuals protesting for equal rights for those with disabilities in Kyrgyzstan, there was plenty of opportunity for everyone to write for an issue they were passionate about. 

And the letters did not stop at one. 

Many students wrote four, five, or more letters supporting many of the diverse cases, using their time and writing to make a difference. Jayden J, Hope ‘20 said that what mattered about this initiative was that when they received our letters, global leaders would see that “a lot of students from Canada and around the world care” about the outcome of these cases.

Dr. Tun Aung, a 2013 Write for Rights Case, said that receiving all the letters through Amnesty International was “the first flicker or light in [his] dark days”, and that “all those activities [were] beyond [his] wildest imagination”. This shows a tiny portion of the monumental impact that these letters can have on people’s lives. 

As we enjoy our holidays with our families and friends, I hope that we can all take a moment to realize how fortunate we are, and recognize what even such a small thing as writing a letter can do to better the lives of others. 

Sarah R, Mackenzie ‘20

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