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Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney attends a Security Council meetin, Sept. 21, 2017, at United Nations headquarters.
Mary Altaffer/AP

Amal Clooney at Toronto Event: 'The Worst Things Happen in Darkness'

In her first-ever appearance in Toronto, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney sat down with American journalist Nick Clooney (who just so happens to be her father-in-law) to discuss world issues at a Luminato and Economic Club of Canada event at Roy Thomson Hall on Friday night.

Gender equality advocate Sophie Gregoire Trudeau introduced the event, speaking about women and girls, reminding the crowd that the world cannot move forward if half of its population is held back.

The room was completely silent as Clooney began to speak, according to The Star.

Take Action: Tell Congress to Ensure the Reunification of Families and Urge Governments to Support Safe Migration

"I am a refugee," she said. “If I had not had a hand extended to me by the UK government when my family was escaping the war in Lebanon, I wouldn’t have been able to grow up in a safe environment, get the education I have, or do any of the things that I have done.”

The timing of this event was particularly pertinent, as the world watches events unfold at the US-Mexico border.

“It’s shameful. It’s not just illegal, it’s immoral,” Clooney said, adding that President Donald Trump’s June 20 executive order does not solve the problem of separated families and detention of immigrants.

Read More: Canadian Immigration Organizations Prepare for Migrant Influx From US

Amal and George Clooney announced a donation of $100,000 to help the migrant children separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border last week.

The money, donated by the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ), will support the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights at the University of Chicago, which fights for the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children.

Amal and Nick spoke about feminism, the March for Our Lives movement (which George and Amal donated $500,000 to after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting), sexual violence against women, and more.

Read More: Trump Doubles Down on Plan to End Due Process for Undocumented Immigrants

Amal also spoke powerfully about feminism around the world.

“Feminism to me is women having choices,” she said, explaining that those choices may vary from place to place. “In some parts of Africa, you’re fighting not to be genitally mutilated. In some parts of Asia, you’re fighting to choose who you marry. In the West, you’re still fighting for equal pay for equal work.”

Nick pushed his daughter-in-law to talk about becoming a celebrity. She talked about having a larger platform, and putting it to good use.

Read More: The Clooneys Just Donated $100,000 to Help Migrant Children Separated From Their Parents

“You can turn a spotlight and put it on something important, and you can help people by raising awareness,” she said. “The worst things happen in darkness, and as a famous US jurist said, ‘Sunlight is the best disinfectant.’”

The sold-out event served as a moment for all to reflect on the state of world’s current human rights issues.

In fact, some used it as an opportunity to have their own messages seen — women were spotted wearing jackets reading “I care” in response to the message on the back of First Lady Melania Trump’s jacket that read “I really don’t care, do u?” on her way to a migrant processing centre last week.

Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including movements to help migrants and refugees, and you can take action on this issue here.