Tag Archives: Aboriginal rights

Quebec: Innu Nutashkuan Blockade Access To La Romaine Construction Site

A hundred Innu protesters block access to the path leading to construction of the Romaine

A hundred Innu protesters block access to the path leading to construction, of the Romaine. They erected barricades with tires and fences in addition to a huge fire.

By Red Power Media, Staff

A group of protesters from the Nutashkuan Innu community have maintained a blockade since Wednesday, at the entrance by the La Romaine construction site, near Havre-Saint-Pierre Quebec, preventing vehicles from entering.

The gigantic Hydro-Québec project is now completely paralyzed by barricades erected by two Innu communities of the North Shore.

“It’s a total blockade. All emergency services may enter and who may want to get out, but there’s nothing coming in, “says the Journal Joel Malec, lumberman Innu and spokesman of the protesters.

A hundred Innu protesters block access to the path leading to construction, of the Romaine. They erected barricades with tires and fences in addition to a huge fire.

A hundred Innu protesters block access to the path leading to construction, of the Romaine. They erected barricades with tires and fences in addition to a huge fire.


The Innu protest is against Hydro-Québec and the government that they believe violate their rights and endanger the environment.

The community accused Hydro-Quebec of not respecting the agreement signed in 2008, in line with their territorial rights. “Hydro-Québec decided to drown 50% of the tree population in the Romaine project basins and us, we are against that. It’s going to cause mercury to future generations ” denounced Chief Rodrigues Wapistan, in an interview with the Journal.

A hundred Innu protesters block access to the path leading to construction, of the Romaine. They erected barricades with tires and fences in addition to a huge fire.

A hundred Innu protesters block access to the path leading to construction, of the Romaine. They erected barricades with tires and fences in addition to a huge fire.

The community says its economic autonomy is also threatened, while jobs were to be granted within the community to deforestation and thus contribute. “We want to get out of our misery and provide a better future for our children and grandchildren. But how, when our land and our resources are destroyed? And our rights are constantly ignored? “Said the leader in a statement issued later Wednesday.

“By flooding our territories without our consent, Hydro-Québec has not only harmed our aboriginal rights, but it has also undermined our economic and social development in addition to endangering the ecosystem,” says Chief Wapistan.

A hundred Innu protesters block access to the path leading to construction, of the Romaine. They erected barricades with tires and fences in addition to a huge fire.

A hundred Innu protesters block access to the path leading to construction, of the Romaine. They erected barricades with tires and fences in addition to a huge fire.

The Oka spectrum

At odds with the government and Hydro-Quebec on this issue for months, the Innu did not randomly choose to act yesterday, it was for the 25th anniversary of the Oka crisis.

The Mohawk uprising that was also declared on the basis of ancestral land claims.

As the Mohawks before them, the Innu warn that if they do not get satisfaction, they will intensify their means of action.

The Premier of Québec, Philippe Couillard, pressed the Nutashkuan community to give priority to negotiation than confrontation, which is doomed to failure.  “One must choose in life. We choose the path of negotiation or the path of confrontation is chosen. The negotiation may succeed, that confrontation will not succeed “ , he has said on the sidelines of the Council of the Federation on Thursday afternoon.

Prime Minister Philippe Couillard has declined the head-to-head Thursday proposed by the head of Innu Rodrigue Wapistan. Photo: Andrew Vaughan Canadian Press

Prime Minister Philippe Couillard Thursday. Photo: Andrew Vaughan Canadian Press

The Minister responsible for Native Affairs, Geoffrey Kelley, had asked earlier in the day Chief Wapistan to lift the barricade blocking access to the mega construction site. He called on the leader of the Innu community to “return to the table [of negotiations]. ” Nobody wants to relive the Oka crisis he stressed during a press conference.

TRC Report Calls For Better Education, Health; Inquiry Into Missing, Murdered Women

Truth and Reconciliation Commission chairman Justice Murray Sinclair raises his arm asking residential school survivors to stand at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa on Tuesday.

Winnipeg Free Press

Commissioners blunt in assessment of residential schools as ‘cultural genocide’

OTTAWA — Canada has lost the sense of urgency that once existed for properly addressing the legacy of residential schools but there is still hope it will happen eventually, the independent commission tasked with documenting the truth about residential schools and guiding Canada to reconcile with indigenous people said today.

In releasing the first part of its final report, the three commissioners posted 94 recommendations for action by the federal and provincial governments, churches and other Canadians.

Residential school survivors and aboriginal women react as Truth and Reconciliation Commission chairman Justice Murray Sinclair speaks at the commission in Ottawa on Tuesday..

Residential school survivors and aboriginal women react as Truth and Reconciliation Commission chairman Justice Murray Sinclair speaks at the commission in Ottawa on Tuesday..

Although the recommendations themselves do not call on Ottawa to label the residential schools a cultural genocide, there can be no doubt that the label fits the bill, the report says.

“For over a century, Canada had a policy to eliminate Aboriginal governments, ignore Aboriginal rights, terminate Treaties, and “through a process of assimilation, cause Aboriginal peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious and racial entities in Canada,” reads the opening line of the 382-page executive summary. “The establishment and operation of residential schools were a central element of this policy, which can best be described as cultural genocide.”

TRC Chair Murray Sinclair had hard words this morning in his speech upon the official release of the TRC report in Ottawa.

More than 600 survivors, family members, political leaders and religious leaders crowded into the ballroom of a downtown Ottawa hotel for the release.

“Today I stand before you and acknowledge that what took place in residential schools amounts to nothing short of cultural genocide,” Sinclair said, to applause from the audience. “It was nothing less than a systematic and concerted attempt to extinguish the spirit of Aboriginal peoples.”

And, Sinclair said, he and the other two commissioners simply do not believe the current government has much will to do anything about it.

“We believe the current government is not willing to make good” on the promises made in the apology in 2008.

“Words are not enough,” Sinclair said. “Reconciliation requires deliberate, thoughtful and sustained action.”

He said the government’s rejection of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples “sends a clear message to Aboriginal people in Canada, all Canadians, and the world.”

Canada was reluctant to sign on to the declaration at first, did so under pressure saying all the while it was not binding, and “shamefully,” last fall was the only country to raise objections to a document that reaffirmed the declaration.

But that declaration is given a lot of weight by the commissioners as a document that can help lead the way to reconciliation.

The commission grounded many of its recommendations on that declaration, said Sinclair.

The TRC notes Canada has been in this position before, in 1996, with the release of the report from the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. But that report was largely ignored by government and a majority of its recommendations never implemented.

“In 2015, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada wraps up its work, the country has a rare second chance to seize a lost opportunity for reconciliation,” the report says. “We live in a twenty-first-century global world. At stake is Canada’s place as a prosperous, just and inclusive democracy within that global world.”

The commissioners were clear they are wary of the government.

“The promise of reconciliation, which seemed so imminent back in 2008 when the prime minister, on behalf of all Canadians, apologized to survivors, has faded,” they wrote.

And the relationship between Ottawa and Aboriginal peoples is “deterioriating.”

“Instead of moving towards reconciliation, there have been divisive conflicts over Aboriginal education, child welfare, and justice.”

Too many Canadians don’t know what happened to aboriginal peoples, and that lack of knowledge drives poor public policy decisions and racism.

In the 94 recommendations TRC Chair Murray Sinclair and his two co-comissioners came up with is a blueprint for what they hope will be a way to bring Canada and the Indigenous people who live within its borders to a common understanding and a common goal. From eliminating gaps in educational attainment and health between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians, to ensuring there are the policies and funding in place to reduce the number of kids in care and overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in this country’s justice system – both as victims and offenders, the recommendations point in many ways to territory already gone over.

An inquiry for murdered and missing aboriginal women is a must, says the report. The government has flat out rejected the idea for years.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt is in attendance. He was the only person in the room to remain seated during an ovation from the crowd after Sinclair called for an inquiry into the high number of murdered and missing aboriginal women in Canada.

There are calls for medical, nursing, law and journalism schools to include a mandatory course on the history and legacy of residential schools, and skills training on conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

It wants Ottawa to eliminate the gap between funding for education on and off reserve, and draft new education legislation in consultation with aboriginal people, that will improve the educational attainment levels and success rates of aboriginal students.

Only about one-third of aboriginal kids complete high school.

The commission also wants Ottawa to eliminate the Criminal Code provision that allows teachers and parents to spank children as a disciplinary measure. That recommendation largely stems from the large number of aboriginal students who report being beaten at residential schools in punishment for everything from speaking the wrong language to not eating their dinner.

The residential schools existed in Canada from the latter half of the 19th century and throughout most of the 20th. The last of the schools closed in the mid-1990s, although few remained after 1980. An estimated 150,000 aboriginal kids attended residential schools, which existed mainly in the west, the north and parts of northern Ontario and northern Quebec.

The schools were run by the churches on behalf of the federal government and operated out of a federal government policy to assimilate aboriginal children.

The TRC report, based on the stories of thousands of survivors and facts gleaned from millions of documents in archives across Canada, outlines the truth about what happened in the schools.

The racist policies that underlined the entire system. The chronic underfunding that led to dilapidated schools, understaffed and overcrowded classrooms, poor supervision that allowed for rampant physical and sexual abuse.

“The full extent of the abuse that occurred in the schools is only now coming to light,” reported the commissioners in the executive summary.

About half of the survivors who made claims for compensation as former students under the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement also made claims for compensation for physical and sexual abuse. More than 30,000 of those claims have been accepted and $2.7 billion in compensation paid out.

Forty-five former former residential school staff have been convicted of sexual or physical abuse.

The abuse took on many forms. From voyeurism, when staff insisted on watching their students in the shower, to groping and rape. Physical abuses included beatings for speaking the wrong language or not answering questions correctly in class. Some students even reported being forced to eat their own vomit if they were sick after eating food often described as inedible and lacking in nutrition.

“The impact of abuse was immediate and long-lasting,” the commissioners wrote. “It destroyed the students’ ability to function in the school and led many to turn to self-destructive behaviours.”

The abuse from staff also led students to turn on each other, leading students to abuse other students.

The commissioners fully believe reconciliation can only happen if the truths of aboriginal history become part of the Canadian identity. So they call for age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, treaties and the contributions of aboriginal peoples to Canada to be developed and become mandatory for all students from kindergarten to grade 12. The commissioners also want monuments to residential schools erected in Ottawa and every capital city, and plans put in place to commemorate residential school sites.

It wants an aboriginal Language Commissioner created to help promote and protect aboriginal languages. And it wants a National Council for Reconciliation to monitor, evaluate and report annually on the process of reconciliation.

They also ask for $10 million over seven years to fund the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation which is being set up at the University of Manitoba to house a permanent archive of the documents and stories uncovered by the TRC over the last six years.

The commissioners also rely heavily on Canada fully implementing and following up on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That declaration, which Canada balked at initially but eventually adopted with the provision that it was not binding, could be the catalyst for reconciliation, the commissioners believe.

“The commission is convinced that a refusal to respect the rights and remedies in the Declaration will serve to further aggravate the legacy of residential schools and will constitute a barrier to progress towards reconciliation,” the commissioners wrote.

To see the full executive summary click here.

The 94 calls to action by the TRC can be found here.

By: Mia Rabson, Winnipeg Free Press‎, Posted June, 2, 2015

Source: https://shar.es/12gCQd



Bill C-51 Has Potential To Scoop Up Aboriginal Rights Activists

A woman kneels in front of a line of police officers while protesting fracking in Elsipogtog, N.B., in October 2013. 'First Nations are on a collision course with federal and provincial governments, as well as pipeline and resource companies as they encroach on traditional lands,' writes Doug Cuthand. (Photo by Ossie Michelin)

A woman kneels in front of a line of police officers while protesting fracking in Elsipogtog, N.B., in October 2013. ‘First Nations are on a collision course with federal and provincial governments, as well as pipeline and resource companies as they encroach on traditional lands,’ writes Doug Cuthand. (Photo by Ossie Michelin)

By Doug Cuthand for CBC News

This week the Harper government rammed the anti-terrorism bill through Parliament with its third and final reading. All that remains is a short stop in the Senate and on to royal ascent.

Bill C-51 is a legislative drift net that has a reach far beyond its immediate target of radical Islamic terrorism.

It has the potential to scoop up environmentalists, aboriginal rights activists, union members and anyone who is seen to stand in the way of national security.

Is that assessment over the top? I don’t think so.

First Nations are on a collision course with federal and provincial governments, as well as with pipeline and resource companies as they encroach on traditional lands, particularly in British Columbia.

The act’s interpretation states that it applies to any activity that “undermines the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada or the lives or the security of the people of Canada.”

This includes the following: “Interference with the capability of the Government of Canada in relation to intelligence, defence, border operations, public safety, the administration of justice, diplomatic or consular relations, or the economic or financial stability of Canada.”

'Under this legislation, Mohawk protesters who blocked the 401 would be branded as terrorists,' says Doug Cuthand. (Frédéric Pepin, CBC/Radio-Canada)

‘Under this legislation, Mohawk protesters who blocked the 401 would be branded as terrorists,’ says Doug Cuthand. (Frédéric Pepin, CBC/Radio-Canada)

This is casting a pretty wide net. Assembly of First Nations National Chief PerryBellegarde has expressed his organization’s opposition to the bill.

Under this legislation, Mohawk protesters who blocked the 401 would be branded as terrorists.

The First Nations elders and family members who set up a barricade of lawn chairs on the CPR main line in British Columbia could be considered terrorists. Oka, of course, would be a terrorist act.

The confrontation between the RCMP and Mi’kmaq protesters in 2013 at Elsipogtog, N.B., led to more than 40 arrests and the destruction of police vehicles. Under Bill C-51, this could be considered a terrorist act.

In British Columbia, a group of First Nations activists in the Tsilhqot’interritory have established the Unist’ot’en Camp, which is built in the proposed right of way for the Gateway Pipeline. If that pipeline ever gets approval, will these people be branded as terrorists and subject to the arrest and overreach of Bill C-51?

Repressive legislation serves as pressure cooker

As each year rolls by, there is growing awareness and increased activism in Indian country. Repressive legislation will only serve to act as a pressure cooker and both create and define more activists.

Kinder Morgan protesters

Kinder Morgan protesters in a standoff with Burnaby RCMP as police try to move the protesters further away from their encampment in November 2014. (Sea Shepherd Conservation U-Stream)

Under this legislation, police forces will have the power to detain people they suspect of planning to break the law. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service will have new powers of arrest as well, effectively making it the equivalent of a secret police force.

In the past, CSIS was an intelligence-gathering agency that shared information with the RCMP, which carried out the arrest of individuals and seizure of evidence.

The government maintains that the legislation is aimed at Islamic jihadists, which Harper portrays as hiding behind every tree in Canada. To combat this perceived threat, the government created Bill C-51, which opens CSIS up to a whole new ball game.

Language of bill questioned

Nobody is going to argue that we don’t need to defend ourselves against terrorists, but the language of this bill is so broad the definition of “terrorist” is watered down to individuals that practise their legal right to dissent.

There are numerous simmering disputes all across Indian country, and if demonstrations occur in the future, how will they be treated under this legislation?

One thing starts to emerge as we look at this ominous bill. The government is preparing an arsenal of legislation to counteract future action by First Nations people to protect our land, resource and environmental rights.

‘The government needs to slow things down and dial back the panic.’– Doug Cuthand

This legislation has been opposed by academics, lawyers, human rights advocates and a large segment of the public, and yet they insist on forging ahead with few revisions and a minimum of debate.

The government needs to slow things down and dial back the panic. We have legislation to deal with those who break the law and commit acts of terrorism.

This legislation is far too broad and needs to undergo a serious rewrite with the input of all the public and opposition parties.

But I guess that is just so much wishful thinking. Bill C-51 is part of Harper’s campaign of fear to get re-elected.

Sadly, that fear has the potential to be spread to First Nations, environmentalists and any other group that can be used to create wedge issues and bring votes their way.


PM Harper Failing To Fulfill Mulroney’s Oka Promise On Modern Treaties

(Mohawks from Kahnawake battle with Canadian soldiers during the 1990 Oka crisis. File/photo)

(Mohawks from Kahnawake battle with Canadian soldiers during the 1990 Oka crisis. File/photo)

By APTN National News

As the smoke was clearing from the 1990 Oka Crisis, then-prime minister Brian Mulroney wrote to the premiers of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon about the long, hot summer saying his government would be responding to the demands of “Aboriginal people” in four parts.

At the top of the list was “resolving land claims.”

Mulroney assured the two premiers the issue would receive Ottawa’s full attention.

“The federal government is determined to create a new relationship among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians based on dignity, trust and respect,” wrote Mulroney to former NWT premier Dennis Patterson and former Yukon Premier Tony Penikett in near-identical letters dated Nov. 15, 1990.

The other issues on the list included, “defining a new relationship between Aboriginal peoples and governments,” also “improving the economic and social conditions on reserves” and “addressing the concerns of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples in contemporary Canadian life.”

Throughout the summer-long crisis in Kanesatake and Kahnawake which spread across the country, the issue of comprehensive claims, or modern treaties, continued to crop up as a major irritant from the First Nation side. Pundits and First Nation representatives who appeared on CBC, CTV and other local cable newscasts repeatedly mentioned the need for Ottawa to overhaul its approach to comprehensive claims. APTN did not exist at the time.

In response, after the guns, tanks and helicopters faded from television screens, Mulroney began an overhaul of the land claim system. First, he eliminated the six-claim cap on the number of negotiations Ottawa would deal with at any one time. In 1992, the British Columbia-specific treaty table was created and in 1993 former Progressive Conservative Indian affairs minister Tom Siddon unveiled an overhaul of Ottawa’s comprehensive claim and specific claims policies.

The Letters

Click on letter to open

Click To Open Letters

Since then, only four B.C. modern treaties have been settled while First Nations involved in the process have amassed about $500 million worth in loans from the federal government to pay for negotiations. As of January 2013, Canada has issued $1 billion in loans and non-repayable contributions to First Nation groups involved in claims talks which can take up to three decades to reach a final agreement.

It’s also emerged that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet has stalled three modern treaty negotiations for two years.

As it nears the end of its first majority mandate and its ninth year in power, the Harper government is only now beginning to address the issue of comprehensive land claims and folding it into a process named to imply a redefinition of Ottawa’s relationship with its Indigenous nations.

It’s called the “reconciliation framework” and it was first mentioned by Ottawa in a statement issued by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt’s office last Thursday in response to the release of a report by former federal negotiator Douglas Eyford.

Eyford was appointed last July by Valcourt to meet with dozens of First Nations across the country on improving Ottawa’s comprehensive land claims policy. As his report points out, Eyford travelled well tilled soil. The federal comprehensive claims policy has been updated three times since its 1973 creation. There have also been eight studies or reports on the issue since 1983, including a 2006 report from the federal Auditor General and two Senate reports, in 2008 and 2012.

“Many of the issues I have considered are neither new nor unforeseen. The observations, findings, and recommendations of these reports remain relevant and compelling despite the passage of time, legal developments, and changes in policy having placed some of the issues in a different context,” said Eyford, in the report.

Comprehensive claims encompass territorial claims, self-government and Aboriginal rights. They are negotiated in areas not covered by so-called “surrender” treaties or numbered treaties. The majority of these claims stem from British Columbia, the North, parts of Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Specific claims generally stem from historical grievances over loss of land or the misuse of monies held in trust by Ottawa.

Eyford’s report also mentions a “reconciliation framework” and issues recommendations on its possible creation.

“Canada’s commitment to reconciliation should be reflected in a new framework that: continues to support modern treaty negotiations, but addresses institutional barriers…provides a rights-informed approach to treaty-making,” said the report. “(It should also offer) other reconciliation arrangements for Aboriginal groups that are not interested in negotiating a comprehensive land claims agreement…and improves the implementation of modern treaties and other agreements with Aboriginal groups.”

Valcourt’s office is saying little about its own vision for this new framework aside from sending links to the department’s interim comprehensive claims policy which was widely panned by First Nation groups.

In an emailed statement, Valcourt’s office said the reconciliation framework is simply the renamed “framework for addressing Section 35 Aboriginal Rights.” The minister also has no plans to roll anything out soon.

“This framework will be developed incrementally and through dialogue with partners,” said the statement. “Over the coming months, we will engage with Aboriginal groups as well as other stakeholders, including those who provided input during the engagement meetings (with Eyford), in order to seek their feedback on those recommendations.”

Valcourt’s framework plans, however, are getting a lukewarm response from the Assembly of First Nations.

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde said Valcourt needed to open direct discussions with First Nations on the issue.

“Any work on a ‘reconciliation framework’ needs to be discussed directly with First Nations,” said Bellegarde. “We are concerned that this government is relying too much on ministerial special representatives and other agents when the federal government has a duty to engage directly with First Nations.”

It all seems a far cry from what was promised following the Oka crisis by the Mulroney government of which Valcourt was once a part.

“I have great respect for the peaceful and patient manner in which most chiefs, elders and Aboriginal people have expressed their grievances and my government will continue to work with these individuals to find appropriate measures to respond to the needs and concerns of Aboriginal people,” said the letters, which Mulroney signed. “These grievances raise issues that deeply affect all Canadians and therefore must be resolved by all Canadians working together.”

According to a memo sent to Mulroney with draft responses to the two premiers, the letters “were developed in consultation with the Department of Indian Affairs.”

The Memo

Click To Open Memo

Click To Open Memo

Download (PDF, 113KB)

Why Bill C-51 Is A Threat To Aboriginal Rights


By Matthew Coon Come | The Globe and Mail

In January, the federal government tabled Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. The bill has generated widespread uncertainty and concern. It fails to safeguard the dignity, human rights and security of indigenous peoples and individuals. It is inconsistent with good governance.

The bill would allow federal judges to grant Canada’s spy agency, CSIS, the right to violate any law of Canada, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Such permission would be granted in a secret hearing with no appeal. Only the government side would be represented.

The bill contemplates the global sharing of information obtained by CSIS, which may or may not be accurate. International human rights law is not considered. This directly contradicts Canada’s international commitments. Last December, the UN General Assembly affirmed by consensus that states must ensure that “any measure taken to combat terrorism complies with all their obligations under international law … in particular … human rights”.

Disputes relating to indigenous peoples should not be criminalized, especially through anti-terrorism legislation. Indigenous peoples are human rights defenders and our issues often include environmental, natural resource development and other essential concerns. For example, in Quebec, the James Bay Crees continue to oppose uranium mining, but such democratic protest is fully accepted by the provincial government. We are not being criminalized or spied upon. Bill C-51 could change this.

Important lessons on “security” can be learned from Canada’s history. The security and human rights of indigenous peoples have been, and continue to be, severely impacted by non-indigenous governments and other third parties. A non-discriminatory approach would require that the “security of Canada” be inclusive of all peoples, including indigenous peoples.

Security is a human right. This right of indigenous peoples includes: environmental security; food security; economic security; social security; cultural security; human security; and territorial security. The 2003 Declaration on Security in the Americas affirms: “the traditional concept and approach must be expanded to encompass new and non-traditional threats, which include political, economic, social, health, and environmental aspects.”

Environmental, cultural and other dimensions of security are reflected in the landmark ruling of the Supreme Court in Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia. The Court emphasized the fiduciary duty of the Crown and added: “… incursions on Aboriginal title cannot be justified if they would substantially deprive future generations of the benefit of the land.” This has far-reaching implications for the security of indigenous peoples, particularly in the contexts of resource development and climate change.

In the past nine months, the federal government has not publicly acknowledged the indigenous victory in Tsilhqot’in Nation. Bill C-51 fails to consider “security” from the perspectives and inherent human rights of indigenous peoples. The rights, security and well-being of present and future generations of indigenous peoples must be ensured.

Since its election in 2006, the federal government has refused to acknowledge within Canada that indigenous peoples’ collective rights are human rights. In November, 2010, Canada endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The federal government concluded: “We are now confident that Canada can interpret the principles expressed in the Declaration in a manner that is consistent with our Constitution and legal framework.”

The Declaration is a consensus, universal international instrument. No country in the world formally objects to it. The Declaration applies to all indigenous peoples globally. It promotes harmonious and co-operative relations between states and Indigenous peoples. It affirms our right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples and our right to our lands, territories and resources.

At the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, an Outcome Document was adopted by consensus by the General Assembly. The centerpiece of the document is the Declaration. However, Canada indicated that it could not support the commitment by states to “uphold the principles of the Declaration”.

Such a position has no credibility. It fails to uphold the honour of the Crown and constitutes bad faith. The government of Canada has a legal obligation to uphold indigenous peoples’ human rights, including those affirmed in the Declaration. Bill C-51 undermines this duty and threatens our security and well-being.

Matthew Coon Come is the Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and the Chair of the Cree Nation Government.

Matthew Coon Come

                          Matthew Coon Come