411 & Amnesty International’s Hip-Hop Musical Connects 30,000 Students to Human Rights Education

Ottawa, Canada – Facilitated by Canadian non-profit youth
organization The 411 Initiative For Change (411), with the guidance of the human rights organization Amnesty International,
Canadian musicians are using their music as a medium to provide human rights
education to high school students and to empower youth to become active members
of the global community. This highly effective program will reach 30,000 youth
in rural and urban centers across Canada as part of a national concert tour into
high schools from Oct 17 – Dec 9, 2005. The Honourable Raymond Chan, Minister of Multiculturalism, who attended one of
the high school performances in Toronto, emphasized the importance of supporting
critical programs, such as 411’s, in order to embrace Canada’s multicultural and
diverse social fabric. Minister Chan addressed students and faculty – affirming
that through this program, young Canadians, “are going to set the example to
model for the rest of the world!

The educational hip-hop musical bridges arts, culture, heritage and social
development through a dynamic ‘edutainment’ performance called “The Barbershop
Show.” 411 and Amnesty International envision a culturally diverse and inclusive
Canada, a country that truly respects human rights at home and abroad. “Shared
citizenship and understanding can be fostered through cultural exchange; this
production engages students on the issues, experiences and realities that frame
the lives of our peers and classmates who may be refugees or immigrants,
including armed conflict, violence against women and girls, and child labor and
y,” explains 411 Executive Director, Tamara Dawit. “Young Canadians
who are speaking out and taking action on human rights are the drivers of change
– in Canada and internationally

Amnesty International Canada is supporting The 411 Initiative for Change with
human rights information, advice, resources and in-school representatives. The
organization has one of the most successful youth activism programs in Canada,
with at least 10,000 youth members and more than 400, mostly school-based, youth
groups. Encouraging human rights awareness and activism among youth – through
projects such as The 411 Initiative for Change’s – is a key element of Amnesty
International’s work.

In the words of one Toronto high school teacher: “Something special was
exchanged between the staff and students with the performers – students were
moved emotionally and inspired to be active persons in our society. This program
supports teachers by reinforcing a lot of messages we try to get across to

The production features powerful songstress Melanie Durrant, whose
performance challenges abuse and violence against women in our communities, as
well as discussing the importance of equal access to education for all children.
Hip-hop artist Shohn Booth (Rikoshay) uses his music to explore the effects of
poverty on children around the world and how youth can live responsibly to
protect the human rights of their peers. Poet Equinox 199 discusses the
realities of being a refugee and the experiences of children in armed conflict
and war. The production is hosted by music industry veteran and former professor
on hip-hop culture Will Strickland. Following the performance, the musicians
engage the students in interactive discussion sessions, challenging youth to
take an active role in their collective futures, while encouraging them to
develop their own individual forms of self-expression through art or action.

The unique nature of The 411 Initiative For Change’s model of using artists and
music as key agents in social change – from within the education system,
demonstrates innovative, timely and effective response to the growing need to
practice sustainable models for social development.

Performances open only to members of the media visiting the following cities:
Toronto, Oshawa, Guelph, London, Kitchener, Windsor, Stittsville, Ottawa,
Dunrobin, Gatineau, North Bay, Sudbury, Charlottetown, Halifax, Calgary and
Winnipeg. *Refer to following page for dates, times and school information for
schools open to media.

Contact: The 411 Initiative For Change
Anita Wong . Phone: (613) 795.4906
anita at whatsthe411.ca

Contact: Amnesty International
Beth Berton-Hunter. Phone: (416) 363-9933 (32)
bberton-hunter at amnesty.ca

Human Rights Education Tour Schedule

North Bay
Nov. 15
9:00AM Silver Birches P.S. 65 Marshall Ave

Nov. 16
9:00AM Saint Francis
691 Lilac

Nov. 16
1:00PM Bishop Alexander Carter
539 Francis Street, Harnmer

Nov. 29
9:30AM Cardigan Consolidated
RR6, Cardigan

Nov. 29
1:30PM Colonel Grey Sr HS
175 Spring Park Road

Summerside, PEI
Nov. 30
10:00AM Three Oaks Senior HS
10 Kenmoore Ave

Kinkora, PEI
Nov. 30
1:30PM kinkora regional HS
54 Anderson Road

Fall River, NS
Dec. 1
9:30AM Lockview High School
148 Lockview Road

Dec. 1
1:30PM St Patricks Alexander JH
2277 Maitland

Tantallon, NS
Dec. 2
9:00AM Tantallon JH
3 French Village Station Road

Dec. 2
1:30PM Highland Park JR HS
3479 Robie Street

Dec. 5
9:00AM Central Memorial
5111- 21 St. SW.

Dec. 5
1:00PM Lord Shaughnessy
2336 53rd Ave SW

Dec. 6
9:30AM Dr. Norman Bethune
315-86 Ave

Dec. 6
1:30PM West Island College
7410 Blackfoot Trail SE

Dec. 7
10:00AM Sisler HS
1360 Redwood Ave

Dec. 7
1:00PM Chapman School
3707 Roblin Blvd

Dec. 8
9:30AM John Pritchard
1490 Henderson Highway

Dec. 8
1:00PM Ecole Viscount Alexander
810 Waterford Avenue

Dec. 9
9:00PM St. Boniface Diocesan HS
282 Dubac Street

Dec. 9
1:00PM Human Rights Conference
U of Winnipeg 515 Portage Ave

[Photo 1: Shohn Booth].