News You May Have Missed: October 10, 2021

“Maple Leaf Structure” by jurvetson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

On Canadian Thanksgiving and Indigenous People’s Day, we want to acknowledge that News You May Have Missed is produced in three places: On the traditional land of the Awaswas people, whose contemporary descendants are the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. (They were called Ohlone by the Spanish and some still call themselves Ohlone.)  On the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit, land which is still home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island. And on the home of the Shawnee, Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Yuchi tribal nations. We are grateful and honored to be here.

You can locate yourselves on this map. We understand that acknowledging the land is only a beginning.


1. Government of Canada must compensate Indigenous children

Indigenous children who had been taken from their families by child welfare authorities, as well as Indigenous children now in the child welfare system won a significant victory on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 29). The Canadian Federal Court upheld the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s 2019 ruling ordering the Canadian government to pay $40,000 each (all that is allowed) to the children who had been removed from their homes since 2006, the Toronto Star reports. According to Canadian Lawyer, some 54,000 children and their parents or grandparents (except for those who had abused their children) will be compensated. The ruling also ordered the government to provide equal child welfare services to children on reserves. Astonishingly, the Canadian government has been fighting these orders since 2007, while a generation of Indigenous children on reserves has suffered from child welfare services that are desperately underfunded.

The government of Canada could still appeal the ruling. The original human rights complaint was filed by Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, along with the Assembly of First Nations. In response to the decision, Blackstock said to the CBC, “Will the federal government finally put down its sword and stop fighting First Nations children and treat them equally?” RLS

Cindy Blackstock encourages those who would like to see Justin Trudeau implement the decision rather than appealing it further to write him. @JustinTrudeau.

2. Climate activists among those trying to leave Afghanistan

Scientists left in Afghanistan fear their research will never be restarted, in part due to the pressures of the Taliban and in part because the grants that fund their labs are frozen, according to an article in the journal Nature. Climate activists, too, fear reprisals and have been trying–with mixed success–to leave the country. Though the Taliban says it wants to fight climate change, environmental activists fear they will be targeted, according to the Independent. Fridays for the Future has been trying to get activists out of the country, according to a tweet by Greta Thunberg at the end of August. RLS

If you want to help evacuate and relocate climate activists, donate if you’re able to Climate 2025 and ASK that your donation be earmarked for evacuation of Afghan climate activists: Climate 2025, 3 Concourse Way, Sheffield, England S1 2BJ, United Kingdom

You can also urge the House Judiciary Committee to take swift, positive action on H.R.4736, the Improving Access for Afghan Refugees Act, and to include Afghan climate activists among those whose qualify for assistance as victims of persecution. Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chair, House Judiciary Committee, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC 20515, (202) 225-3951. @RepJerryNadler.

You can also urge the House Foreign Relations Affairs to take swift, positive action on H.R.5117, which blocks federal aid to Afghanistan and places sanctions on Afghanistan until the President certifies to Congress that all U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, coalition partners, and Afghan allies—which should include climate activists—who desire evacuation have been evacuated. Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Chair, House Foreign Affairs Committee, 2170 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC 20515, (202) 225-5021. You can also call on your Representative to support both H.R.4736 and H.R.5117 and on your Representative and Senators to act in support of efforts to help climate activists who wish to leave Afghanistan. S-HP


3. Four Black women per day were killed in the US in 2020.

The murder rate in the US jumped by 30% in 2020; 77% of these homicides were committed using firearms, according to the Guardian. Experts on gun violence attribute the rise in homicides to the pressures of the pandemic and the easy availability of guns. As Shani Buggs, an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis who studies these issues, put it, “you have mundane issues that are turning lethal because there is so much anger, and rage, and guns available.”

In the US, over half the homicide victims were Black, although Black Americans represent only 14% of the population. The increase in homicides meant that four Black women per day were killed in 2020. The circumstances of these deaths have not been tallied; some are the result of domestic violence, while others were accidental. Some analysts wonder whether so many Black women died because so many were essential workers during the pandemic and therefore were vulnerable to violence in the community, according to the Guardian. Kimberlé Crenshaw, a Black feminist legal scholar, told the Guardian that “many factors make Black women more vulnerable to violence, including widespread access to firearms, and barriers to access of preventive services and mental healthcare, factors that probably worsened during the pandemic.”

Our database of pending gun legislation–on which no progress has been made since we posted it on August 8–is available here.

In Canada, by contrast, the homicide rate increased by only 7% in 2020, according to Statistics Canada, to 1.95 homicides per 100,000 people. In the US, there are 5.8 homicides per 100,000 people, according to the CDC. However, Black Canadians account for 44% of these homicides, according to, though they are only 3.4% of the population; the rate of homicide for Indigenous people in Canada is 7 times that for non-Indigenous Canadians. RLS, S-HP

If you want to act on this issue, you can urge your Senators and Representative to:

1) Support gun control legislation (use our database) to see what legislation is with specific Senate and House committees;

2) Treat violence against women as the public health crisis it is;

3) Increase violence prevention programs;

4) Increase access—particularly for Black women—to preventive health services and mental health care.


4. New/old approach to reproductive rights

Women in Texas were able to get legal abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy for just a day, when on Wednesday a judge–responding to a request by the Biden administration–held that women had been “unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution,” according to the BBC. His ruling was almost immediately put on hold by the 5th Circuit in response to a suit by Texas officials. As a result, pro-choice activists nationwide have organized networks to enable Texas women to get abortions out of state, ABC News reports. These echo the underground “Jane” networks that operated pre-Roe v. Wade, eloquently described in a 2019 Vanity Fair article. 

The “Janes” relied on D & C (dilation and curettage) procedures) performed by doctors or others with some medical training–and ultimately they trained themselves. D&Cs are generally safe if they are performed by trained practitioners in sanitary settings, but they carry a small risk of uterine perforation or infection, according to the Mayo Clinic. A new group, Plan C, is trying to make medication abortion more easily available. Approved by the FDA over twenty years ago, medication abortion involves taking two drugs, Mifepristone and Misoprostol, 24-48 hours apart. The drugs can be used up until the 10th week of pregnancy; they work by blocking progesterone and thus causing what is in effect a miscarriage. These medications are not without risks; if a woman has an ectopic pregnancy (in her fallopian tubes), they will not work–an ectopic pregnancy is life-threatening. In addition, heavy bleeding or infection can follow, though these complications are rare and need to be weighed against the risk of pregnancy itself. For these reasons, the FDA previously required women to see health practitioners in person–in some areas, three visits were required, one for each dose and one to make sure the abortion was complete. During the pandemic, however, these drugs were allowed to be dispensed by mail, and it is this practice that Plan C activists are building on. 

There are still legal risks to Plan C, as Ms. Magazine explained last year. Groups such as Reproaction are advocating for widespread availability of self-managed abortion care, but caution that 21 women have been arrested for using Mifepristone and Misoprostol outside a clinic setting. The SIA legal team provides a detailed discussion of the issues. RLS

You can thank the Attorney General for defend the Constitutional right to reproductive health care, including abortion. Merrick Garland, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC 20530-0001, (202) 514-2000.

You can also urge your Senators to support the Women’s Health Protection Act, already passed by the House, which guarantees women’s access to a full range of family planning services, including abortion (this legislation was H.R.3755 in the House; the identical Senate legislation is S.1975).

You can also urge the House Judiciary Committee and your Representative to support H.R.5226, Preventing Vigilante Stalking the Stops Women’s Access to Healthcare and Abortion Rights Act, which increases the maximum sentence for stalking if it involves an attempt to obtain a woman’s health records or to prevent her access to healthcare, including abortion and other family planning services. Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chair, House Judiciary Committee, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC 20515, (202) 225-3951. @RepJerryNadler. S-HP


Are you trying to decide whether to go to an in-person event? The Canadian Institute on Ageing offers a detailed, well-grounded risk assessment tool.

Moms Rising always has clear, focused actions you can take to make change. Note in particular their suggestion to tell your Governor to stop playing politics with kids’ health. Apropos of which, note the CDC report from May that describes how masks and vaccines reduce transmission in schools.

The Americans of Conscience checklist has relaunched! They offer new actions every other week that will enable you to make your voice heard quickly and clearly. In addition, they have a good news section that will help you keep going.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has a useful FAQ about COVID-19 and the vaccines.

The World Food Programme estimates that 12.4 Syrians are food-insecure, an increase of 4.5 million over the last year. They are receiving donations for their work providing food for the most vulnerable families. The UNHCR is also requesting donations for displaced families in Syria and surrounding countries, particularly Lebanon and Turkey.

The UN Refugee Agency is requesting donations for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, especially for the hundreds of thousands of displaced people.  Not only because Afghan assets have been frozen, but because of massive inflation and the lack of funds to pay the salaries of public employees, the country is at risk of “a total breakdown of the economy and social order,” according to the UN Special Envoy on Afghanistan.

Among the organizations that supports kids and their families at the border is RAICES, which provides legal support. The need for their services has never been greater. You can support them here.

Al Otro Lado provides legal and humanitarian services to people in both the US and Tijuana. You can find out more about their work here.

The Minority Humanitarian Foundation supports asylum-seekers who have been released by ICE with no means of transportation or ways to contact sponsors. You can donate frequent-flyer miles to make their efforts possible.

The group Angry Tias and Abuelas provides legal advice and services to asylum-seekers at the border. You can follow their work on Facebook and see the list of volunteer opportunities they have posted.

Freedom for All Americans has a very useful legislation tracker on trans issues.