Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

UN Committee urged to examine discrimination against Indigenous peoples during review of Canada’s human rights record

 


Amnesty International Canada /Amnistie Canada, Assembly of First Nations, Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers), First Nations Summit, Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee), Indigenous World Association, International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Kanehsatake Cultural Center, National Association of Friendship Centres, Native Women's Association of Canada, Treaty Four First Nations, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs

On February 22 and 23, Canada’s record on combating discrimination will be examined by a high level body of the United Nations. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) : http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/ is the independent expert body that monitors compliance with the international treaty of the same name.

As a signatory to the Convention, Canada is required to report regularly to the Committee on measures taken to comply with its provisions. Key issues concerning the rights of Indigenous peoples were glossed over or ignored in Canada’s report.

More than 35 Indigenous nations, regional and national Indigenous peoples’ organizations, human rights and social justice organizations have filed their own alternative reports.

The submissions cover a wide range of urgent concerns including violence against Indigenous women, extractive industries on Indigenous lands, the high rates of incarceration of Indigenous peoples, protection of Indigenous peoples’ economic, social and cultural rights, implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Canada’s actions in the international arena to undermine the Declaration and others standards for the protection of Indigenous rights.

More than 15 Indigenous Nations and organizations will be sending representatives to participate in the process and speak directly to CERD members about their concerns.

“Indigenous peoples in Canada face widespread discrimination and denial of our fundamental rights, including unacceptable living standards faced by far too many of our families and communities, the disappearance and murder of hundreds of Indigenous women, threats to our languages and cultures and the ongoing failure to recognize and uphold our Aboriginal and Treaty rights, including our rights to lands, territories and resources,” said Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee). “International attention is needed because the government of Canada is failing to meet its domestic and international legal obligations to address these urgent human rights concerns.”

The Committee urges states to consult with Indigenous peoples’ organizations and NGOs before making their reports. However, Canada’s latest report to the Committee was submitted without consultation or the involvement of Indigenous peoples and human rights organizations.

“It’s important that the Committee hear from Indigenous peoples because Canada’s report contains so many crucial gaps and omissions,” said Danika Littlechild, legal counsel for the International Indian Treaty Council, which coordinated a joint shadow report with 11 other Nations and organizations.

Although Canada is currently before the Federal Court in a landmark human rights complaint over discrimination in the funding of services to First Nations children on reserve, Canada’s report to the Committee makes no mention of this case.

“The situation of First Nations children is just one example of the kinds of urgent issues that deserve close scrutiny because Canada is not living up to the legal commitments it made in ratifying the Convention and other international human rights instruments,” said Teresa Edwards of the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

When the Committee last reviewed Canada in 2007, it expressed concern over Canada's processes for settlement of Aboriginal land claims. Robert Morales, Chief Negotiator for the Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group, said, “Canada continues to fail to meet its international obligations to respect Indigenous land rights under conditions of equality, and Canadian negotiation and litigation processes continue to pose extreme hurdles to indigenous peoples' efforts to protect, title, and demarcate their traditional lands."

Canada also failed to respond to direct questions from the Committee’s last review, including a request to report back on measures to hold Canadian corporations accountable for their activities on the lands of Indigenous peoples in other countries. Submissions include testimonies from Indigenous peoples in the US, Mexico and Guatemala experiencing human rights violations by Canadian mining companies operating in their homelands.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs said, “Canada's endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples : http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CC0QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.un.org%2Fesa%2Fsocdev%2Funpfii%2Fdocuments%2FDRIPS_en.pdf&ei=QCdET_XzLOXjsQK_xPDDDw&usg=AFQjCNFsAoTgiIMEVUHfEXbBn_03AJhJTg&sig2=u-wyEC1ECMSApuEjwxd_TA loses its meaning when the government repeatedly takes action that devalues this human rights instrument in Canada and internationally."

“UN level review processes like the upcoming CERD hearings play a crucial role in ensuring that all states live up to their human rights obligations,” said Craig Benjamin of Amnesty International. “Canada must show leadership in taking the process seriously. That means giving meaningful and urgent attention to the concerns that are being brought forward by Indigenous peoples and to the UN recommendations that will come out of this process.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Amnesty International Canada, 416-363-9933, ext. 332

Roger Jones, Assembly of First Nations, 613-241-6789

Jennifer Preston, Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers), 519-835-5213

Ellen Gabriel, Kanehsatake Cultural Center, 450-479-1651

Chief Perry Bellegarde, Treaty 4 First Nations,613-293-4806

Danika Littlechild, Ermineskin Cree Nation, IITC Legal Council, 780-312-0246

Colin Braker, First Nations Summit, 604-926-9903, Mobile: 604-328-4094

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, 250-490-5314

BACKGROUND

The review session is being held at the United Nations in Geneva. The session will be webcast by the United Nations at http://www.ccprcentre.org/home/215 : http://www.ccprcentre.org/home/215

Submissions to the Committee are posted online at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/cerds80.htm : http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/cerds80.htm

Alternative submissions included: Amnesty International Assembly of First Nations; First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives and others -Child Welfare; First Nations SummitFirst Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining; Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and others - Nagoya Protocol; Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee), Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers) and others– UN Declaration; Haudenosaunee of Kanehsatà:Ke – Bill S24; Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group; Indigenous Bar Association; International Indian Treaty Council, Confederacy of Treaty 6 First Nations, Dene Nation, First Nations Summit and others; Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade and others; Kontinónhstats - The Mohawk Language Custodians and others – Language and Culture; Lawyer's Rights Watch Canada and the BC CEDAW Group – Violence Against Indigenous Women; Native Women’s Association of Canada; Nishnawbe Aski Nation – Housing, Youth Suicide, Drugs and Policing; Six Nations of Grand River; Treaty 4 First Nations – Treaty Implementation; Treaty 4 First Nations and others – Bill C10; Tsilhqot’in Nation; Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs – Specific Claims

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to carry out official visit to the United States from 23 April to 4 May 2012

: http://unsr.jamesanaya.org/

PRESS RELEASE SOURCE: United Nations Human Rights Office of High Commissioner

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Professor James Anaya, will carry out an official visit to the United States of America from 23 April to 4 May 2012.

The aim of the Special Rapporteur's visit to the United States is to examine the human rights situation of the indigenous peoples of the country, that is, American Indians/Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians. During the visit, the Special Rapporteur will hold meetings and consultations with federal and state government officials, as well as with indigenous nations and their representatives, in various locations.

Of particular relevance to the visit are the implications of the United States' endorsement, in December 2010, of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Special Rapporteur will assess the ways in which the standards of the Declaration are currently reflected in U.S. law and policy, both domestically and abroad, and identify needed reforms or areas that need further attention in light of the Declaration.

The results of this assessment will be reflected in a preliminary report that will be submitted to the United States for its comments and consideration. A final version of the report will be circulated publicly and presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The report will include recommendations to the United States, indigenous governing bodies and, possibly, other interested parties on how to address issues of ongoing concern to indigenous peoples.

The Special Rapporteur has tentatively planned to visit locations in the Southwest, Midwest, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. Further information and updates about the agenda of the Special Rapporteur as it becomes available will be made public on the websites of the Special Rapporteur maintained by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights : http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/SRIndigenousPeoples/Pages/SRIPeoplesIndex.aspx and the University of Arizona : http://www.mynewsletterbuilder.com/my/newsletters/www.unsr.jamesanaya.org .

Background information on the Special Rapporteur and his mandate from the UN Human Rights Council is available on these web sites.

The Special Rapporteur invites indigenous peoples and organizations, and other interested parties, to send information relevant to the visit to the United States or any other aspect of his mandate to: indigenous@ohchr.org : mailto:indigenous@ohchr.org

Laying the groundwork for a human rights framework at the Expert Group Meeting on Combatting Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls

From January 18–20, 2012 the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples (UNPFII) held an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on “Combating Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls” at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York City. This was the first international gathering which highlighted violence against Indigenous women and children across the globe. It was attended by UNPFII members, Indigenous experts, UN Agencies, Member States and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations.

The purpose of this gathering was to discuss ways in which the UNPFII can support the implementation of Article 22 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which states:

Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities in the implementation of this Declaration.

States shall take measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination.

The meeting provided an opportunity for invited experts and other participants to present a number of examples of the many forms of violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls around the world and to analyze how human rights currently recognized in international standards and policies can be used to address these situations.

International Indian Treaty Council’s Executive Director Andrea Carmen (Yaqui) and Viola Waghiyi (Native Village of Savoonga and Alaska Community Action on Toxics) were invited to present a report to the EGM addressing the impacts of Environmental Contamination on Indigenous Women, Girls and Future Generations. This report documented severe health and reproductive impacts on Indigenous woman and children caused by environmental toxins such as toxic pesticides and military wastes released deliberately in their communities constituting “Environmental Violence” which violates of a number of international standards. The report also presented recommendations by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) calling on the United States and Canada to take responsibility for the human rights violations of the multi-national corporations they license which are being disregarded.

The conclusions and recommendations of this EGM will be presented at the upcoming United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues eleventh session which will be held May 7 –18, 2012 at UN headquarters in New York City.

Please click here to view the report and others presented at the EGM. : http://www.treatycouncil.org/PDF/Indigenous%20Women%20and%20Environment%20PaperFINALEGMSUBMISSIONJan182012rev1.pdf

Treaty Council Welcomes Legal Counsel Danika Littlechild

The International Indian Treaty Council is very pleased to announce that Indigenous Peoples’ Attorney Danika Billie Littlechild, Ermineskin Cree Nation, has joined our organization as IITC Legal Counsel as of December 1st, 2011. Danika is a dynamic and dedicated Indigenous attorney with many years of experience working for the inherent and Treaty rights of Indigenous Peoples in the legal system of Canada as well as in the international arena at the United Nations (UN). She has extensive experience in International Human Rights Law with specialties in Treaties, Water, Environment and Indigenous Children’s rights.

Danika trained in the law office and at international fora with her uncle, International human rights and Indigenous Peoples attorney Chief Wilton Littlchild, for many years. She has participated in various UN fora including the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights Council, UNESCO, and the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention.

In recent months, Danika also received training on UN and OAS human rights mechanisms from IITC’s former General Counsel Alberto Saldamando, as well as through the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) “Training Programme to Enhance the Conflict Prevention and Peace-building Capacities of Indigenous Peoples’ Representatives”. She is currently lead attorney, working with a number of Indigenous Nations and organizations, to compile an Indigenous Peoples’ joint Shadow Report for the review of Canada by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in February 2012.

Danika will continue to be based on the Ermineskin Cree Reserve, Treaty No. 6 Territory in Alberta Canada but will be participating in IITC’s international delegations and human rights trainings on a regular basis. IITC and our affiliates warmly welcome Danika as IITC’s Legal Counsel and look forward to working with her and benefiting from her extensive legal expertise, insight, enthusiasm and commitment to advance and defend the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

 

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