Alicia Keys, Canadian 'Idle No More' activists honored for human rights activism

Eduardo Munoz / Reuters
Musician Alicia Keys arrives at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York, U.S., August 28, 2016. Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

American singer-songwriter Alicia Keys and Canada’s Indigenous rights movement have been selected to receive top accolades for their human rights activism by Amnesty International.

Keys has mixed activism with art, advocating for social justice issues, and the Canadian movement fights for Indigenous legal and land rights, Amnesty said.

“They remind us never to underestimate how far passion and creativity can take us in fighting injustice,” it said in a statement.

The Ambassador of Conscience Awards go to people and groups that show courage and inspiration, and previous winners include South African President Nelson Mandela, Nobel laureate and education activist Malala Yousafzai and folksinger Joan Baez.

Keys, 36, a 15-­time Grammy winner, co-­founded Keep a Child Alive for families affected by HIV in Africa and India and the We Are Here Movement to encourage young people to act on issues of criminal justice reform and gun violence.

She also is active in women’s rights, was a speaker at January’s Women’s March on Washington and started a campaign by not wearing make up to a top awards ceremony last year.

“Our conscience is something we are all gifted with at birth, no matter who we are,” Keys said in a statement issued by Amnesty.

“That little voice that speaks to you and tells you when something is not right, I always use as my guide. Now I just say, ‘Okay, what can I do?’ That is a question we can ask ourselves and then act upon.” The Canadian activists have drawn attention to indigenous people who have been marginalized after decades of public silence and apathy, Amnesty said.

The grassroots Idle No More movement has helped mobilize Indigenous people to take control of their lands, resources and environment, and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society has waged a legal battle against under-funding of social services for Indigenous children, Amnesty said.

The awards will be presented in Montreal on May 27.

© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Published with permission.

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