Celebrated global music artist and activist Alicia Keys and the inspirational movement of Indigenous Peoples fighting for their rights in Canada have been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2017.
The award will be officially presented at a ceremony in Montréal, Canada, today (May 27).
The power of creativity
Six individuals will represent the the Indigenous rights movement of Canada, which has bravely fought to end discrimination and ensure the safety and wellbeing of Indigenous families and communities.
They are Cindy Blackstock, Delilah Saunders, Melanie Morrison, Senator Murray Sinclair, Melissa Mollen Dupuis and Widia Larivière.
The Ambassador of Conscience Award is Amnesty International’s highest honour, celebrating those who have shown exceptional leadership and courage in championing human rights.
‘Both Alicia Keys and the Indigenous rights movement of Canada have in their own ways made inspirational and meaningful contributions to advancing human rights and towards ensuring brighter possibilities for future generations. Crucially, they remind us never to underestimate how far passion and creativity can take us in fighting injustice.’
Amnesty International’s secretary general
From music to activism
Alicia Keys has used her career and platform as a 15-time Grammy award-winning artist to inspire and campaign for change.
‘To be given this great honour, and to be in the presence of the Indigenous rights movement is a humbling experience. It encourages me to continue to speak out against injustice and use my platform to draw attention to the issues that matter to me.’
‘The Queen of R&B’
Often referred to as the ‘Queen of R&B’, Keys has increasingly interwoven her activism with her art. Her extensive philanthropic work includes co-founding Keep a Child Alive (KCA), a non-profit organisation providing treatment and care to children and families affected by HIV in Africa and India.
KCA identifies and partners with local leaders in grassroots organisations to design, implement and share solutions to some of the most pressing challenges in the fight against AIDS.
KCA has raised more than $60 million to provide AIDS care to hundreds of thousands of children and their families, as well as advocate for more understanding and support.
Guided by conscience
In 2014, Keys co-founded the We Are Here Movement to encourage young people to mobilise for change, asking the question ‘Why are you here?’ as a call to action. Through the movement she has sought to galvanise her audience to take action on issues such as criminal justice reform and ending gun violence.
Stunned by the fact that there are now more refugees in the world today than at any other point in history, the musician helped create and appeared in a short film entitled Let Me In to mark last year’s World Refugee Day. With her song Hallelujah at its centre, the film brings the issue of the refugee crisis home to viewers by telling the powerful story of a young American family forced to flee to the US-Mexico border.
‘Our conscience is something we are all gifted with at birth, no matter who we are. That little voice that speaks to you and tells you when something is not right, I always use as my guide.
‘Since I was a small girl my inner voice would yell at me! Now I just say, okay, what can I do? That is a question we can ask ourselves and then act upon.’
‘The Queen of R&B’