Canada PM Trudeau at UN on First Nations Relations


An excerpt from the statement summary:

Statement Summary: 

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, Prime Minister of Canada, recalled that, throughout his country’s history, it had worked hard to achieve its ambitions at home and elsewhere in the world. Canada was built on the ancestral land of indigenous peoples, he recalled, and was regrettably a country that came into being without the meaningful participation of those who were first there. The indigenous peoples were the victims of a Government that did not respect them, their traditions, their attributes, their way of governance, or their laws. They were victims of a Government that sought to rewrite their unique history and refused to protect the lands and water. It was a great shame that that lack of respect persisted today.

Alternative Reports A and B to the UN CERD Regarding Violation of Indigenous Children’s Right to Culture

Speaking of ICWA placement preferences, Here are the reports submitted to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, the International Indian Treaty Council, and the National Indian Child Welfare Association:

Alternative Report A: Indigenous Children and the Legacy and Current Impacts of the Boarding School Policies in the United States and the Lack of Redress, Restitution and Restoration by the United States to Address these Impacts or to Acknowledge Responsibility for Them
Alternative Report B: The Continued Removal of Indigenous Children from Their Families and Communities and its Impact on The Right to Culture

Update — a blurb from the authors:

During last week’s two-day dialogue with the United States, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination members asked questions of the US delegation relying on the information provided to it by the United States as well as reports submitted by non-governmental organizations and stakeholders.  The National Indian Child Welfare Association submitted such a report voicing concerns over the problematic implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act. The report on “The Continued Removal of Indigenous Children from Their Families and Communities and its Impact on the Right to Culture (Alternative Report B)” was drafted in partnership with Suffolk Law’s Indigenous Peoples Rights Clinic, and can be viewed at hhere. During the session, Committee members asked the United States to comment on the over- representation of indigenous children in foster care and the bias in private adoptions. The Committee’s Concluding Observations report should be released next month.

Report of Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Indigenous Peoples in Canada

Here (weblink) and here (pdf).

80. But despite positive steps, daunting challenges remain. Canada faces a continuing crisis when it comes to the situation of indigenous peoples of the country. The well-being gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in Canada has not narrowed over the last several years, treaty and aboriginals claims remain persistently unresolved, indigenous women and girls remain vulnerable to abuse, and overall there appear to be high levels of distrust among indigenous peoples toward government at both the federal and provincial levels.

Alta Outcome Document Released in Preparation for 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous peoples from around the world today issued a common position for the high-level plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, also known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, to be held at New York Headquarters from 22 to 23 September 2014.

The “Alta Outcome Document” is a set of recommendations adopted by the Global Indigenous Preparatory Conference in Alta, Norway.  Indigenous peoples from the seven regions of the world — Asia; Africa; North America; Central and South America and the Caribbean; Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia; the Arctic; and the Pacific, as well as the Indigenous Women and Youth Caucuses — gathered in Alta at a global meeting organized by the Saami Parliament of Norway.

“This is a crucial step leading up to the World Conference,” said Paul Kanyinke Sena, Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.  “By formulating a common position, indigenous peoples have given their voices added strength and relevance in the dialogues that will make up the World Conference.”

Link to press release here.

Link to a pdf copy of the document here.


UN Working Group, Navajo Nation Collaborate on Human Rights Issues

On April 27, in an official visit to the United States, a United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights met with the Navajo Nation’s human rights experts and others in Flagstaff, Arizona. The Navajo representatives reported on two situations facing the Navajo people:Arizona Snowbowl, a ski resort that has begun a much-opposed project to spray treated wastewater on the sacred San Francisco Peaks, and predatory lending issues surrounding the lending group Santander Consumer USA.

The rest of the article can be found here.
Previous coverage here.

New Scholarship on Indigenous Decolonization and United Nations Membership

India Reed Bowers has posted “Indigenous Decolonization and United Nations Membership: Indigenous Peoples and the Fundamental Right to Self-Determination” on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This LL.M. thesis provides legal arguments for, amongst other things, the inclusion of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples as Members of the United Nations (equal to States, but not required to form States) through an equality- and dignity-based examination of UN Decolonization, ‘friendly relations’, and self-determination. The arguments contained within also provide an examination of the violations of International Law resulting from, amongst other topics addressed, discrimination committed by the United Nations and States against Indigenous and Tribal Peoples via State-Indigenous governing relationships. Limited access to justice and limited actualized rights in regards to Indigenous Peoples’ self-determination are discussed with reference to Tribal/Indigenous/State shared histories, legal personality, the International Court of Justice and judicial procedure and remedy, State anti-discrimination laws, the UN and its relationship to international trade and business, the codification of international human rights and criminal law, mental health (with special attention to high Indigenous suicide rates in ‘developed’ States, colonialism and discrimination), current UN definitions of ‘aggression’, ‘war’, ‘colonialism’ and ‘conflict’ (with suggestions of definition revisions), State abuse towards Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, segregation and exclusion, and apartheid and cultural genocide as resulting from State-Indigenous inequality as experienced by Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. UN definitions of ‘development’ are challenged and held accountable for cultural discrimination and death. Recommendations with an emphasis on healing include amendment of the UN Charter and suggested General Assembly Resolutions, as well as equal international leadership opportunity for traditional and chosen Indigenous and Tribal legal and governing cultures, subsistence-based lifeways and traditional Indigenous and Tribal healers with a focus on the right to cultural integrity, traditional Indigenous and Tribal lands, including the right to say ‘no’ to non-native land-grabbing, resource exploitation and State abuses. The argument that State territorial integrity includes Indigenous and Tribal traditional lands is also countered. The original version of this LL.M. thesis was submitted to the Master’s of Law program ‘International Law of Human Rights and Criminal Justice’ at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, 22 August 2012. This online version was uploaded 5 March 2013.

Danielle Conway on Promoting Indigenous Innovation Through the Licensing of Article 31 Indigenous Assets and Resources

Danielle M. Conway has posted her paper, “Promoting Indigenous Innovation, Enterprise, and Entrepreneurship Through the Licensing of Article 31 Indigenous Assets and Resources.” She published the paper in the SMU Law Review.

Here is the abstract:

The notion that indigenous entrepreneurship is inherently paradoxical to participation in the western marketplace must be challenged, even though there is a fine balance indigenous entrepreneurs maintain with their own world and the western world. This balance considers that indigenous entrepreneurs exist within transgenerational communities with complex cross-cultural linkages with the west. Far from fully segregating from western society and the states in which they reside, indigenous entrepreneurs seek to promote indigeneity through indigenous and non-indigenous commerce. As Hindle and Lansdowne explain, “[t]here need be no paradox, no contradiction, no values sacrifice, no false dichotomy between heritage and innovation.” Reference to the goals and objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples bear this out. For example, article 19 of the Declaration relates to Indigenous peoples’ participation with respect to issues that affect them, their lands, their resources, and their rights. The Declaration also calls for good-faith efforts by states to consult and cooperate with Indigenous peoples about economic and social development that directly or indirectly impacts their rights. Relevant to this paper, article 31 of the Declaration deals with Indigenous peoples’ right to exercise authority and control over their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions in addition to any intellectual property rights in these assets and resources. Accordingly, this Article promotes the use of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a basis for asserting indigenous control over article 31 assets and resources to spur indigenous enterprise and innovation. After asserting control, Indigenous peoples can then operationalize the use of their article 31 assets and resources to counteract the “history of dispossession, assimilation, child removal and other previous colonial policies [that have] created a legacy” of economic disadvantage, political and structural disadvantage, geographic and cultural disadvantage, and collective and individual disadvantage. This article focuses on licensing as a mechanism to both implement the goals and objectives of the Declaration and to reassert indigenous authority and control over indigenous assets and resources.

News Coverage of CERD Review of Canada

We mentioned this here.
Coverage from the Montreal Gazette here.

Canada’s international reputation came under fire in Geneva on Wednesday as a UN expert panel delivered scathing criticisms over the government’s treatment of First Nations and recent changes to the country’s immigration system.

Members on the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, all of them human-rights experts from around the world, questioned why headway has not been made in resolving the disparities between First Nations communities and the rest of the country.

“This problem should not continue the same way as it has in the past,” said Noureddine Amir, vice-chairman of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. “How long will this be ongoing?”

The treatment of natives jumped back onto the federal political agenda after the Red Cross delivered humanitarian aid to the First Nations community of Attawapiskat in northern Ontario late last year.


Chickaloon Invites United Nations to Investigate Water Pollution

Here is the press release: Press release chickaloon communication

An excerpt:

Chickaloon Native Village, a federally-recognized Athabascan Indian Tribal government in Alaska, filed a communication to the United Nations Independent Expert on the human right to water and sanitation in conjunction with her first official visit to the United States, which began today.

Chickaloon Village’s submission asserts that the new open-pit coal strip mine in its traditional territory proposed by the Usibelli Corporation would contaminate local drinking water sources as well as rivers, streams and groundwater that support salmon, moose and other animals and plants vital for subsistence, religious and cultural practices. The US Federal Government and the State of Alaska have, to date, not responded to Chickaloon’s firmly-stated opposition to the mine.

The visit to the US by the Independent Expert, Mrs. Catarina de Albuquerque, a Portuguese human rights expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, includes stops in Washington DC, Boston Massachusetts and Northern California, where she will meet with the Winnemem Wintu and other Indigenous representatives. Her US visit will end on March 2, 2011.

During her visit she will meet with the US State Department and relevant Federal agencies as well organizations, communities and experts to receive information regarding the human right to water and sanitation and the federal and state policies and practices that affect this right. She is expected to make recommendations to the US government at the conclusion of her visit.