Canada misses chance to be world leader in indigenous rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Canada misses chance to be world leader in indigenous rights

NIPISSING FIRST NATION (Sept. 14, 2007) – Canada has passed up a golden
opportunity to be seen as a global leader in the advancement of
indigenous rights, says John Beaucage, Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation.

“As delighted as we are to see the world community recognize the
fundamental rights of First Peoples, I think that many Canadians will be ashamed that their government has made this country one of only four nations in the world to vote against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Beaucage.

“For three decades, First Nations leaders and delegates have collaborated with Canadian
governments of various political stripes to provide input into the
document approved Thursday. The vote is a stain on Canada’s
international reputation as a leading advocate for the advancement of human rights, especially since Canada is a current member of the U.N. Human Rights Council.”

Of 147 countries casting ballots, at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, only Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand opposed the declaration – a non-binding, largely symbolic statement that recognizes the histories, traditions, cultures, languages, and spirituality of indigenous peoples. A total of 11 countries abstained.

Speaking on behalf of the 42 member communities of the Anishinabek Nation in Ontario, the Grand Council Chief endorsed a joint statement issued by indigenous representatives of the North American region, that said in part:

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“We, Indigenous Peoples of this land, are part of Creation, in
the homelands we inherited from our ancestors. We understand from our original teachings that we are meant to live in harmony with all
Creation and with other Peoples, including with those who came to our homelands seeking a better life for themselves and their children. Our Nations entered into sacred treaties with them. Sadly, these treaties have been violated time and time again. The tragic and brutal story of what happened to us, especially at the hands of the governments, is well known.

“Today at the United Nations, states have finally recognized what we have always known – we are Peoples, equal in all ways to all other Peoples, with inherent and inalienable rights to our survival, our way of life, lands and self-determination.”

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The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European
contact.

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For more information:

Bob Goulais, Executive Assistant to the Grand Council Chief
Phone: (705) 497-9127 (Ext. 2249)
or cell: (705) 498-5250,
Email: goubob@anishinabek.ca

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