Crisis! U.N. Rapporteur Slams Canada for Dealings With Indigenous Peoples
Indigenous leaders in Canada were vindicated upon the release of the report of James Anaya, the outgoing United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which concluded that relations have deteriorated and are at a crisis point.
The matter came full circle at the 13th session of the U.N. Permanent Forum on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is under way this month through May 23, when Anaya formally presented his report at the international meeting.
“I want to thank the Special Rapporteur for his report and I profoundly appreciate professor Anaya’s thorough analysis and recommendations on the way forward for First Nations and Canada,” said Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Ghislain Picard, the AFN’s spokesperson since National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo resigned on May 2. “The key issues before us now are to examine what Indigenous Peoples can do to ensure that the recommendations in the report are fully implemented, identify international mechanisms to ensure the State works with Indigenous peoples to support implementation, and ways the State can be held accountable in the event of non-compliance. I will be reporting back to First Nations soon to discuss next steps.”
Picard has long advocated bringing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to the people from the halls of institutions. Only then, he has said, will the declaration truly be implemented—when people can see it playing out in their daily lives.
Highlighting everything from housing, to health, to education, Anaya, whose term has just ended, called various initiatives at the federal and provincial levels of government “insufficient” in addressing the problems that Indigenous Peoples face in Canada.
“The well-being gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in Canada has not narrowed over the last several years, treaty and aboriginals claims remain persistently unresolved, indigenous women and girls remain vulnerable to abuse, and overall there appear to be high levels of distrust among indigenous peoples toward government at both the federal and provincial levels,” Anaya said in his opening summary. “Indigenous peoples’ concerns merit higher priority at all levels and within all branches of Government, and across all departments. Concerted measures, based on mutual understanding and real partnership with aboriginal peoples, through their own representative institutions, are vital to establishing long-term solutions. To that end, it is necessary for Canada to arrive at a common understanding with indigenous peoples of objectives and goals that are based on full respect for their constitutional, treaty, and internationally recognized rights.”
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