Friday, November 19, 2010

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Global Youth Network is happy to announce that the Canadian government finally endorsed the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous rights.It only took three years!

Below are some statements from various leaders such as the Government of Canada, First Nations leaders, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Metis Nations Council, and Global Youth Network!

This is from the Government of Canada’s web site:

“On November 12, 2010, Canada issued a Statement of Support endorsing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This endorsement offers an opportunity to strengthen relations with Aboriginal peoples in Canada, and to support our ongoing work on Indigenous issues internationally.
The Declaration 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 Aboriginal peoples.” (
Here are few of the responses from First Nations leaders.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A‐in‐chut Atleo (who is from Ahousaht a community that Global has been involved with for a number of years) states,

“Today marks an important shift in our relationship and now the real work begins,” National Chief Atleo said. “Now is our time to work together towards a new era of fairness and justice for First Nations and a stronger Canada for all Canadians, guided by the Declaration’s core principles of respect, partnership and reconciliation. First Nations have worked long and hard to set out constructive and effective approaches and to abandon the colonial relationship embodied in the Indian Act that has held back our people and this country. We are ready to move now – today – on our key priorities including education.”

“Today is important, not as the culmination of our efforts, but as the beginning of a new approach and a new agenda,” the National Chief stated. “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.”

Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse stated, “Although the public endorsement of the UNDRIP by the Canadian government is a positive step forward it is clear that the reasons that Canada failed to endorse the Declaration three years ago still remain a primary focus of the Canadian government, illustrated by their assertion that the Declaration does not reflect international customary law. Chief Toulouse stated that the federal government offers the proper rhetoric about reconciliation and respect for Indigenous rights but has struggled to move beyond words to action to make reconciliation real and to build a relationship with First Nations based on mutual respect. Chief Toulouse indicated that it is imperative that government be willing to move beyond their entrenched and often unproductive positions to actually realize progress in the First Nation-Government relationship.”

Here is a statement from The Union of BC Indian Chiefs:

“We remain concerned that Canada’s actions, both domestically and abroad, are not reflecting the standards that the government now professes to support,” says Grand Chief Edward John, First Nations Summit, “Actions are more important than words. We will be carefully looking for concrete evidence that the government’s endorsement of the Declaration reflects a genuine willingness to uphold its provisions.”

From the Metis Nation Council:

President Chartier, “This decision helps to clear the way for a positive, constructive path forward for the Métis Nation and all Canadians in addressing many of the challenges facing our people across the homeland.”
The Métis National Council and its governing members are ready to work closely with the Government of Canada in adopting the UNDRIP’s core principles of mutual respect, equality, partnership and good faith.”

Global Youth Network's Statement:

There is still a lot of work to be done in the relationship between the Canadian Government and Aboriginal Peoples. The Government of Canada is a reflection of the priorities of the Canadian People, therefore there is still a lot of work to do at a grass roots level to restore a right relationship between Non Aboriginal Canadians and Aboriginal Peoples. Global Youth Network remains committed to exploring our role in creating places where reconciliation can take place. Our hope is that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will be another resource and tool to bring about justice for Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and Indigenous Peoples around the world.

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