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Canada Marks International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Despite growing trust, there's much to be done, Indigenous Peoples in Canada say

It’s the United Nations International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples as well as the tenth anniversary of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. With promising developments in relations between Indigenous Peoples and the Canadian government, officials from all sides commemorated the day, August 9—while marking what still needs to be done.

“Today, First Nations stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples everywhere to revitalize and restore our collective rights as peoples and to support one another in that goal,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde in a statement. “This is a day for all governments to recommit to work with us to fully implement the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration affirms Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination and sets out minimum standards for their survival, dignity and well-being. Implementing the U.N. Declaration will promote peace and help close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canadians. Canada has stated its unqualified support for the U.N. Declaration and, as we approach the tenth anniversary of its adoption by the U.N. General Assembly, it is time to work together to give life to the Declaration in Canada and around the world.”

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau famously promised after winning the Liberal majority in October 2015 that his government would incorporate the U.N. Declaration into federal law. That goal has yet to be reached. But on August 9 he reiterated his commitment to working with Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

“No relationship is more important to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples,” he said in a statement. “We are taking concrete steps to create a renewed relationship with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation—based on recognition of rights, respect, collaboration, and partnership.”

The government, in concert with Indigenous Peoples, is reviewing federal laws and policies so as to balance them equitably with constitutional obligations and international standards, such as those spelled out in the U.N. Declaration, he said. The government is also working on legislation that would revitalize and preserve indigenous languages and “making progress to address the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” Trudeau said. “We are also creating a new space for Indigenous Peoples near Parliament Hill, which will honor our nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, and government-to-government relationship with Indigenous Peoples and recognize their importance to this country’s foundation and its future.”

The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) said that progress toward this end has been too slow, though it also acknowledged the achievements of Indigenous Peoples thus far.

“Indigenous peoples continue to lead the global fight for the protection of our lands, territories, and the environment for future generations,” the group said in a statement. “The UBCIC remains frustrated that, despite the adoption of the Declaration in 2007, Canada has yet to make significant and tangible progress, politically and at the community level, on the implementation of Indigenous Title and Rights, as affirmed in the Declaration.”

Worldwide, though similar progress has been made, the story is not much different, U.N. officials said.

“The Declaration, which took more than twenty years to negotiate, stands today as a beacon of progress, a framework for reconciliation and a benchmark of rights,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, Chairperson of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in a joint statement. “But a decade on, we need to acknowledge the vast challenges that remain. In too many cases, indigenous peoples are now facing even greater struggles and rights violations than they did ten years ago.”

  • I hate to be negative but think the negativity comes from strong DNA of indigenous ancestry. There are many indigenous alive today yes but I bet there were more murdered in genocide so that humanity from those 13 western European countries led by the English, Dutch, French could prosper from the stolen land & all the minerals & resources that they still benefit from with their ongoing greedy actions. Does anyone realize that they became rich, powerful, & productive from our land & resources. They built their churches, schools, homes, mansions, universities, hospitals, shops, & every industry from their theft of our goods. Does anyone realize that every nation on earth has benefited from our resources except us? They have educated all children of the earth except indigenous children, they feed all the children of the world except the indigenous children, they house all the children of the world except the indigenous children. The Americas were once forced to be European & they benefited greatly by what they stole from us and our lands while calling it their own. In order to have allies and assistance in their greed they started giving land away but it’s easy to give away something that was never yours in the first place. The greed so tremendous they had to ship Africans to work where Europeans could not – now Africans benefit greatly from our land and resources much better than the indigenous. Still wondering the earth as great greedy evil doers the greed is not satisfied by humanity of the collaborating 13 western European countries – they continue to exclude, ban, harass, demonize & terrorize the indigenous of the earth for land & resources that they might steal. They & they alone have corrupted, & caused chaos & destruction of lands, oceans, rivers, lakes, mountains, deserts, animals, plants, children and even air, atmosphere, space they are unstoppable in the destruction but will try to blame all mankind. They & they alone have greatly benefited from their lustful greed & lived in extreme luxury for centuries. For our future generations this story has to be told, documented, written, recorded because their tactics & strategies for their own benefit and gain and justification has not been put to rest – they continue to fulfill their greed & OMG who knows what they have in store and will do to keep their murderous story secret. Our children should feel no shame to have been banned, excluded & forbidden to take part in our own land where foreign communities were built with our resources – they may excuse, deny, & claim ignorance but the shame is on each and every generation that partook of their forefathers’ evil.

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Canada Marks International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples