Canada signs on to UN Declaration of
Indigenous RightsRead the entire article:
Condensed by Native Village
Canada has finally
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples. Introduced in the UN in
2007, the Declaration had taken almost 30 years to
Canada endorsed the
Declaration at the urgings of Canada's First
Nations, Métis and Inuit . The United States is now the only
country refusing to endorse it.
Duncan, Canada's Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, said
in a press release:
"Canada has endorsed the
Declaration to further reconcile and strengthen our
relationship with Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Canada's Aboriginal leadership
has spoken with passion on the importance of
endorsing the Declaration. Today's announcement
represents another important milestone on the road
to respect and co-operation."
Canada's Minister of Foreign
Affairs, Lawrence Cannon said the agreement means:
"Canada is committed to
promoting and protecting the rights of Indigenous
peoples. Canada's active involvement abroad, coupled
with its productive partnership with Aboriginal
Canadians, is having a real impact in advancing
indigenous rights at home and abroad."
there was an
government's press release:
"... The United Nations
Declaration describes the individual and collective
rights of Indigenous peoples. It sets out a number
of principles that should guide harmonious and
cooperative relationships between Indigenous peoples
and States, such as equality, partnership, good
faith and mutual respect. Canada strongly supports
these principles and believes that they are
consistent with the Government's approach to working
with Aboriginal peoples. While the Declaration is
not legally binding, endorsing it as an important
aspirational document is a significant step forward
in strengthening relations with Aboriginal peoples."
The Assembly of First Nations
noticed that statement and said in a press release:
"We do take exception to the
statement that the UNDRIP does not reflect customary
international law. However, with the endorsement, we
can now move forward to address the full range of
of the Métis National Council, Clément Chartier said:
"Ever since September 2007 when
the UN adopted the UNDRIP, the Métis Nation has been
urging Canada to reverse its decision not to support
the UN DRIP. Today, Canada finally listened and we
congratulate the government on taking this important
step. This decision opens a positive, constructive path forward
for the Métis Nation and all Canadians in addressing
many of the challenges facing our people across the
the National Chief of the Assembly of First
Nations said the
"... important, not as the
culmination of our efforts, but as the beginning of
a new approach and a new agenda. Canada's apology
for the residential schools in 2008 was a critical
moment to acknowledge the pain of the past.
Endorsing the Declaration is the opportunity to look
forward and re-set the relationship between First
Nations and the Crown so it is consistent with the
Treaties and other agreements with First Nations
upon which this country was founded. In endorsing
the UN Declaration, Canada is committing to work
with us as a true partner to achieve reconciliation
as instructed by the courts in Canada.
I congratulate Canada in taking
another step towards the promotion and protection of
human and fundamental freedoms for all."
Grand Chief Ron Evans,
speaking for the
Manitoba Chiefs said in a release:
"While I am encouraged by the
endorsement, it is unfortunate that in Island Lake,
for example, 50% of our people live without running
A third world country in need
of aid exists right here in Manitoba.
It is my deepest hope that the
federal government will take action to raise the
standard of living of First Nations people to the
rest of Canada."
The Declaration, said
"... describes the individual
and collective rights of Indigenous peoples, taking
into account their specific cultural, social and
economic circumstances. The Declaration also
encourages harmonious, cooperative relationships
between States and Indigenous peoples, based on the
principles of equality, partnership, good faith and
mutual respect. Canada strongly supports these
principles and believes that they are consistent
with the government's approach to working with
The Assembly of
First Nations explained the significance of
Canada's endorsement, saying:
"Canadian First Nation leaders have been directly
involved in the development and negotiation of the UN
Declaration (UNDRIP) for over twenty years. In 2007, the
UNDRIP passed at the United Nations. Canada was one of
only four countries along with Australia, New Zealand
and the United States to vote in opposition to the
First Nation leaders advocated
strongly for the UNDRIP as a framework for advancing
First Nations rights, dignity, survival, security
and well-being. Assembly of First Nations'
resolution No. 37/2007 called on the Government of
Canada to endorse the UN Declaration without delay.
Now three years later, Canada,
today, has endorsed the Declaration. While this in
itself doesn't address our urgent needs, it does say
that Canada is listening and that Canada is willing
to work with us to achieve the standards set out in
the UNDRIP. Furthermore, the UNDRIP will inform and
guide the discussion regarding the meaning and
implementation of treaty and aboriginal rights as
guaranteed in the Constitution Act, 1982."
Assembly of First Nations will use
Canada's endorsement to begin new actions.
"... will work immediately to seek
commitment from Canada to move forward on
priority issues as mandated by the Chiefs in
Assembly including education. In addition,
we will call on Canada to convene a First
Nations-Crown Gathering as a key step
forward in affirming our nation-to-nation
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