Now is the time when many of us make resolutions to live our lives a little bit differently — to lose weight, to quit smoking, or to start volunteering for a good cause. It's also a good time to resolve to do your part to protect human rights around the world.

Here are five things you can do to protect human rights this year:

1. Get informed. Find out about human rights issues by reading newspaper articles, or by contacting organizations like Amnesty International – either through their web site or by visiting one of their offices. They have a wealth of information on a wide variety of human rights issues.

2. Inform others. Organize a “lunch and learn” at your office, or bring a speaker on a particular human rights issue into your workplace, school, or place of worship. Most organizations have volunteers or staff who would be happy to share information about the issues they are working on.

3. Use your freedom of speech. Speak out on behalf of those who have been silenced. Sign a petition, write a letter to a government urging them to respect their citizens' rights, or join a rally – there are lots of ways to advocate for human rights and here in Canada it's legal and safe to do so.

4. Volunteer with a human rights organization. There are hundreds of human rights groups working across Canada on a wide variety of issues. Get involved.

5. Join Amnesty International's Urgent Action Network and take action when someone is in immediate danger of being tortured or killed.

To receive a free information package on how to get more involved as a volunteer in human rights work, you can write to Amnesty International, 1992 Yonge Street, Suite #303, Toronto, Ontario M4S 1Z7.

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