Points of Progress: Indigenous peoples’ history acknowledged, and more

Why We Wrote This

This is more than feel-good news – it's where the world is making concrete progress. A roundup of positive stories to inspire you.

AP/File
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights dimmed its portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi in August 2018. The museum has also recently revised its exhibits to accurately convey the country’s history of genocide.

Canada

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg has reckoned with the country’s history of genocide. The 1948 United Nations Convention on Genocide defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” Murder, displacement of children, and criminalization of indigenous peoples have been documented since the colonization of Canada. Before May, the museum’s exhibits mentioned that indigenous peoples had faced “cultural genocide” but not outright genocide. However, the museum has now revised its exhibits. A communications manager told a reporter, “We understand it’s not just our role [to declare genocide] but our responsibility and our commitment as a national institution that’s dedicated to human rights education.” (CBC/Radio-Canada)

Fiji

Rugby is tackling gender-based violence. A study released in 2011 by United Nations Women found 80% of women in Fiji had experienced some form of domestic violence. While Fiji has entered a program to help it achieve the U.N. sustainable development goal of gender equality by 2030, a barrier has remained: the country’s history of violence toward women. The national sport of rugby is being used as a tool to reduce violence through a program launched by U.N. Women and Oceania Rugby. This spring, 10 schools launched programs promoting equality among boys and girls on and off the rugby field. Through rugby, coaches are integrating discussions that challenge social norms. By reaching teenagers during their formative years, experts see it as an opportunity to change youth attitudes about gender roles. (World Rugby)

Scotland

Individuals from the country’s major nature conservation groups have formed an alliance to save Scotland’s temperate rainforests. Deforestation, pollution, and urban development have decimated rainforests along Europe’s Atlantic coastline. The rainforests on Scotland’s west coast are the last of their kind, and are even rarer than tropical rainforests. Members of Atlantic Woodland Alliance are trying to reverse the decline by assessing the forests’ conditions and creating a plan of action for restoration. The AWA hopes to increase the visibility of these precious rainforests within the nearby communities and promote more engagement to ensure their well-being. (The Scotsman)

United States

Thanks to lower levels of air pollution, dangerous wintertime fog in California’s Central Valley has decreased. In the 1980s, dense “tule fog” was nearly a nightly occurrence, sometimes leading to severe car accidents due to low visibility. But now, such fog-related accidents are rare. A study by the University of California, Berkeley analyzed decades of data and found that incidents of fog jumped 85% between 1930 and 1970, and has since dropped 76% between 1980 and 2016. Air pollution regulations were introduced in 1970. (Berkeley News)

AP/File
Fog blankets Bakersfield, California, on Jan. 13, 2006.

Algeria

The World Health Organization has confirmed that Algeria is free from malaria. A physician discovered the first parasite linked to the disease more than a century ago in Algeria, and by the 1960s, the country was experiencing some 80,000 cases annually. The United Nations’ health agency attributes the country’s successful eradication to the provision of free diagnoses and treatments. Although Algeria has been cleared of malaria, a report on cases between 2015 and 2017 released by WHO notes that there hasn’t been notable progress in reducing malaria globally. (World Health Organization)

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