AFN National Chief applauds today's passage of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - Recognizing 30 years of work in the making



    OTTAWA, Sept. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - The National Chief of the Assembly of
First Nations called today an important day for Indigenous people around the
world, including First Nations in Canada.
    "While the Declaration is not perfect, it is a step toward setting
minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous
people everywhere. It's a day to celebrate.
    "This recognition was a long time coming," National Chief Phil Fontaine
said. "The Declaration recognizes our collective histories, traditions,
cultures, languages, and spirituality. It is an important international
instrument that supports the activities and efforts of Indigenous peoples to
have their rights fully recognized, respected and implemented by state
governments."
    However, the National Chief said he is gravely concerned that the
Government of Canada chose to vote against the UN Declaration and, in effect,
opposes fundamental human rights protections for Indigenous peoples. Canada
lobbied hard to convince other countries to not support the Declaration. It is
the first time Canada voted against an international human rights instrument.
Despite Canada's efforts, many countries decided to vote in favour of the
United Nations Declaration.
    "The Assembly of First Nations and other representatives of Indigenous
peoples in Canada offered to work with the government to address the concerns
it had and to come to a solution, but that offer was refused," National Chief
Phil Fontaine said. "Canada prides itself as a protector of human rights. It
is a member of the UN Human Rights Council, yet it is disappointing today to
see this government vote against recognizing the basic rights of Canada's
First Peoples. This is a stain on the country's international reputation."
    First Nations Chiefs and First Nations representatives invested an
enormous amount of work into the Declaration over the last 30 years.

    The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations citizens in Canada.




For further information:

For further information: Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor, Office of
the National Chief, (613) 241-6789, ext 243, cell (613) 298-6382,
npine@afn.ca; Josee Bellemare, Bilingual Communications Officer, (613)
241-6789, ext. 336, cell (613) 327-6331, jbellemare@afn.ca; Bryan Hendry,
A/Director of Communications, (613) 241-6789, ext. 229, cell (613) 293-6106,
bhendry@afn.ca


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