OTTAWA – “I acknowledge Special Rapporteur James Anaya’s time and efforts in listening carefully to the Indigenous peoples in this country, visiting First Nations communities and witnessing firsthand the challenges facing our people and governments,” said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.
Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo was commenting on the conclusion of the visit to Canada by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya, calling on Canada to give serious consideration to the Special Rapporteur’s pending report and recommendations.
“First Nations are now looking forward to the Special Rapporteur’s report and recommendations. There is still much unfinished business and longstanding issues between First Nations and Canada that burden our relationship and hold all of us back. This is a critical moment and it is our hope that the Special Rapporteur’s report will help compel action. First Nations are willing and ready for the hard work. It must start now. This must be the era of action.”
The UN Special Rapporteur was in Canada from October 7-15, describing the purpose of his visit as “…looking at the issues faced by First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in Canada, including in relation to matters of reconciliation, governance and self-government; lands and resources; and health, education and economic development.” During his visit, the Special Rapporteur traveled to six provinces and visited a number of First Nations communities to meet directly with First Nations citizens. The Special Rapporteur will deliver a report to the UN Human Rights Council in February 2014.
AFN’s principal role was to encourage and help facilitate as many direct engagements with First Nations as possible throughout the Special Rapporteur’s visit. While supporting all First Nations in advancing their priorities, the AFN also advanced three areas for action:
- Canada must work with First Nations to develop processes and principles to implement the Honour of the Crown as guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Canada must clearly recognize First Nations governments and support rebuilding of our Nations.
- The need for new mechanisms – including fundamental changes to the machinery of government – to reflect and fulfill the nation-to-nation relationship between First Nations and Canada.
National Chief Atleo called on Canada to give serious considerations to the Special Rapporteur’s report and recommendations: “The Special Rapporteur has reflected on the crisis our people are experiencing and the urgency to address these matters. This affirmation is a call to action to all Canadians, to all governments and to all First Nations peoples. Notwithstanding our diversity, the Special Rapporteur reflected that which our Elders remind us: there is more in common amongst us. First Nations continue to seek full respect, recognition and implementation of our inherent rights, Treaties and title, and meaningful engagement on all matters including any activities that affect our lands, our lives and traditional territories.
The UN Special Rapporteur is willing to continue receiving written submissions. For more information see:http://unsr.jamesanaya.org/
The UN Special Rapporteur’s report will inform discussions at the United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, a high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly which will take place September 22-23, 2014 in New York City. This will be another opportunity to highlight the situation facing First Nations in Canada and the action required to move forward.