Canada still is not on board with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Originally published on www.straightgoods.ca
(16 September 2009) – Two years ago, on September 13, 2007, nations around the world signed an innovative human rights treaty: the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the aim of which is to protect some 370 million people around the world.
Last week, the Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador (AFNQL) participated in a public event to celebrate the anniversary of that signing. But, as the AFNQL pointed out, Canada is one of the three countries which continues to reject this document. Québec, despite several invitations, also remains silent on the question.
"How can you explain the fact that governments who call themselves champions of human rights, like the governments of Québec and Canada, continue to refuse to support a document which recognizes the fundamental human rights of aboriginal peoples?" asks Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL. "Canada's refusal to sign the declaration is inconceivable!"
Chief Picard pointed out that the document is a reference guide which is particularly useful in the interpretation of the rights of aboriginal peoples and the obligations of States towards them. This kind of instrument is also extremely important in the State's fulfilling of its commitments vested in the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
He said that the position of the Canadian and Québec governments is that much more surprising since the United States and New Zealand (the two other countries who have not signed) have recently shown signs of revising their position regarding the adoption of the Declaration.
"What is Canada waiting for?" asks Chief Picard, "and what about Québec, who for the last two years has hidden behind an almost indecent silence?"
Faced with the immobility of the provincial and federal governments, several Québec organizations decided to form the Coalition for the Rights of Québec Native Peoples in the aim of having the Declaration recognized. The Coalition has already received the support of several personalities and organisations within Québec's civil society.
The AFNQL salutes this demonstration of public support and reaffirms its endorsement of this initiative, one of the main objectives of which is to collect signatures on a petition demanding Canada's adoption of the Declaration.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE