Impact Matters: Pastor Lim Returns Home, Sears Hardship Fund and MoreSep 7, 2017
By Laveza Khan and Justin Lyons
Fall is almost here, and we’re back to show you a few highlights on successful petitions on Change.org. Several petitions have made headlines and are leading to real change here in Canada.
Pastor Lim Returns Home
By now, you’ve probably seen the news: After two and a half years, Hyeon Soo Lim (Pastor Lim), a Korean-Canadian pastor from Toronto in his early sixties, returned home after being detained in North Korea since February 2015. He was arrested by North Korean authorities while on a humanitarian mission for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Kim regime. He was given a life sentence in a hard labour camp.
Since 1997, Rev. Lim has been supporting where help is most needed, including an orphanage, public schools, and a nursing home in North Korea. He’s made more than 100 trips to supply food, textbooks, and agricultural tools to civilians. Disheartened after hearing his story on the news, two law students — Ji-Soo An (U of Alberta Law School) and Hyun-Soo Lim (Yale Law School) — started a petition to raise awareness and call for his immediate release.
After months of campaigning, meeting with Members of Parliament, and delivering signatures in February 2016 with support from nearly 165,000 people, Pastor Lim was released on bail and his family announced his safe return home on August 12. Ji and Hyun shared their gratitude for the support and empathy towards Pastor Lim they witnessed through their petition: “We can’t wait for him to see all of the names of supporters who helped make this miracle happen.”
Daughter fights for her mom and other laid off Sears staff
When Michelle’s mom was one of 2,900 Sears employees laid off, she was sure that she would receive the promised financial relief in the form of regular severance payments. She was wrong: in fact, after Sears ripped up staff severance agreements just weeks later, it was revealed that top executives would be receiving big bonuses. Michelle and her 31,000 petition supporters are pushing for more financial support for axed employees — and they’re being heard. Sears recently announced a $500,000 hardship fund for laid-off staff. Worried this fund will provide only a handful of eligible staff with a small sum of money, Michelle and her supporters have doubled down on their push, certain that Sears should be doing more.
Restaurant industry employees put an end to IOU system
Celebrity chef Susur Lee’s restaurants have been called out for an illegal IOU system that regularly deducted money from workers’ tips. The arrangement withdrew money from employees’ paychecks for anything from a spilled drink to a wrong order. Following negative attention stemming from a petition started by a group of restaurant industry employees, the restaurant company decided to drop the IOU system. The petition starters’ continued pressure over the next 10 days led to an apology from Lee’s restaurants and an announcement on August 28 that the company would reimburse staff who had their tips confiscated.
Widlene is a stateless 12-year-old girl. Born to Haitian parents, she lives with her Canadian family in the Dominican Republic, but the Dominican government could deport her at any moment since she doesn’t have proper documentation. Her adoptive father, who has taken care of her for the last eight years, is fighting every hour to convince Canadian authorities to grant her a Temporary Residence Permit so she can access Canada and remain with her family. He recently confronted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the case and delivered more than 15,000 petition signatures to the Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen.
Kijiji general manager responds to puppy mills petition
Barbara has spent the last three-plus years working to push Kijiji — Canada’s largest classifieds website — to put an end to animal sales on its platform. Concerned that the company is fostering puppy mill business, she’s gathered more than 120,000 supporters to push for alternative solutions. The prominence of their campaign led to a public response from the general manager of the online website, Matthew McKenzie. Barbara and her petition signers reacted to the news in this post.
All of these efforts speak to great determination of citizens to come together to influence government and business decision-makers on Canada’s leading hub for social impact. Thank you for raising your voices and most importantly ensuring that justice is served throughout our nation.
Laveza Khan is a Canada Outreach Specialist for the North America campaigns team at Change.org
Justin Lyons is the Director, North America Campaigns at Change.org