Indigenous Human Rights

New Democratic Party MPs Jean Crowder (Nanaimo-Cowichan), Alexa McDonough (Halifax), and Dennis Bevington (Western Arctic) signed a copy of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, just before a planned vote at the UN that would gut the resolution of key points.

"This declaration outlines the minimum human rights standards necessary for the dignity, survival and well-being of the world's indigenous peoples. It has been under discussion at the United Nations for more than two decades," said Crowder. "First Nations, M├ętis and Inuit people as well as many NGOs are pressuring Canada to support the Declaration and to ensure its passage during the 61st UN Assembly."

There is a new proposal being voted on soon that would gut the Declaration by allowing states to define "indigenous peoples" in whichever way is most convenient to them. This proposal undermines and calls into question every human right outlined in the original Declaration.

"Ordinary people in Canada have seen first-hand the problems that arise when the government has the power to arbitrarily decide who is and isn't an indigenous person," said Bevington. "The recent BC Supreme Court decision in the McIvor case shows that the government violated human rights by arbitrarily deciding that women couldn't pass on their status to their children. Canada cannot support taking away the right of self-definition from indigenous peoples around the world."

"The Conservatives' decision to not support the Declaration at the Human Rights Council was a stain on our reputation around the world. Canadians played a key role in the negotiation of the Declaration and collaborated with indigenous peoples to draft a number of the provisions that were critical in building support among other states," said McDonough. "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended supporting the Declaration in June 2006 and the Minister of Indian Affairs said no. Who is in charge of our foreign policy?"

"The Conservative government has said many times it supports human rights for Aboriginal people, but failing to support this Declaration would seriously undermine their credibility on human rights, and Canada's reputation on the world stage will be the first casualty of their hypocrisy," said Crowder.

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