Canada finally backs UN Indigenous declaration

first_imgAPTN National NewsOTTAWA–The Canadian government said Friday it had endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.The government has long been urged by First Nations leaders across the country to sign the document. The Conservative government admitted its refusal to endorse it had harmed its relationship with First Nations people.Canada’s UN ambassador John McNee met with the president of the UN General Assembly Friday to indicate Canada’s decision to formally endorse the declaration.“We understand and respect the importance of this (declaration) to Indigenous peoples in Canada and worldwide,” said Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan, in a statement. “Canada has endorsed the declaration to further reconcile and strengthen our relationship with Aboriginal peoples in Canada.”Assembly of First Nations national Chief Shawn Atleo said he welcomed the government’s announcement.“Today marks an important shift in our relationship and now the real work begins,” said Atleo. “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.”The government had initially voted against the document, along with the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, saying it infringed on Canadian laws.“We are not prepared to sign on to this non-binding document because it is inconsistent with our Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the National Defence Act, Supreme Court rulings, policies under which we negotiate treaties, and does not account for third-party interests,” said Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan, in 2009, when he was a parliamentary secretary.Canada now says it is “confident” it can “interpret the principles expressed in the declaration” without infringing on the Constitution or the country’s laws.Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Canada’s decision to change its position on the declaration signalled its commitment to “promoting and protecting” the rights of Indigenous peoples.“Canada’s active involvement abroad, coupled with its productive partnership with Aboriginal Canadians is having a real impact in advancing Indigenous rights and abroad,” said Cannon, in a statement.NDP Aboriginal affairs critic Jean Crowder said it was about time the government acted on the declaration.“With each day that went by without that recognition, Aboriginal peoples questioned whether or not the Prime Minister’s residential school apology truly meant anything,” said Crowder.Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized in 2008 for the Indian residential schools policy and for the way Aboriginal children were treated at these schools.An interview with Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan will air Friday evening at 6 p.m. ET on APTN National Newslast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *