United Nations, New York – Indigenous peoples’ organizations and human rights groups are calling on all countries, including Canada, to ensure that their laws and policies are consistent with international human rights standards set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Delivering a statement on behalf of a wide range of organizations from across Canada and around the world, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde told the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that too many states claim to respect Indigenous rights while putting in place laws and policies that undermine those very rights.
“My statement today is a call for Canada and all states to uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to work with Indigenous peoples to ensure all laws are consistent with the Declaration,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “It is frankly disturbing that the government of Canada claims that Indigenous rights and Indigenous peoples are a priority at international forums and in front of the international community yet their actions at home are serving to undermine Indigenous rights and peoples.”
The National Chief pointed out that Canada continues to try to ignore court decisions, including decisions by the Supreme Court such as the Tsilhqot’in decision on Aboriginal title, and Canada’s own Constitution that recognizes the inherent Aboriginal and Treaty rights. Currently, the governing Conservative Party of Canada is opposing private member’s Bill C-641, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, which would commit Canada’s federal Parliament to work with Indigenous peoples to ensure that Canadian laws are consistent with the Declaration.
“The UN Declaration provides for an approach based on reconciliation, healing, justice and peace,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Giving life to its principles will help close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canadians and bring honour to Canada. Each state has a prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights, and that includes Indigenous rights.”
The National Chief made the statement today on behalf of the Assembly of First Nations, Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee); Amnesty International; Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers); Chiefs of Ontario; Femmes Autochtones du Québec/ Québec Native Women; First Nations Summit; First Peoples Human Rights Coalition; KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives; Na Koa Ikaika KaLahui Hawaii; Native Women’s Association of Canada; Samson Cree Nation and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. National Chief Bellegarde is participating in the fourteenth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The full statement by the National Chief is available on the AFN website at: http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/news-media/latest-news/permanent-forum-on-indigenous-issues-assembly-of-first-nation
The Permanent Forum is an advisory body to the UN with a mandate to discuss Indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the UN in 2007 and officially endorsed by Canada in 2010, sets out minimal global standards for the protection of the rights of Indigenous peoples.
Information on the fourteenth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is available at: http://undesadspd.org/indigenouspeoples.aspx