AFN National Chief to Make Presentation to United Nations Permanent Forum on
Indigenous Issues: Speaks to Growing Momentum to Endorse the UN Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

OTTAWA, April 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo will make a presentation on April 22nd at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The National Chief's presentation will focus on key issues of importance to Indigenous peoples in Canada, within the context of advancing implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. New Zealand's Minister of Maori Affairs announced at the opening of the Permanent Forum on April 19 that New Zealand is now supporting the UN Declaration.

"First Nations in Canada and Indigenous peoples around the world commend the Maori people in securing New Zealand's endorsement of the UN Declaration, and we support the Maori in the work that is now before them to create an ongoing dialogue with their government to implement the Declaration," National Chief Atleo said. "The Canadian government made a commitment to endorse the UN Declaration in the Speech from the Throne, and First Nations in Canada look forward to a similar dialogue. The work does not end when we sign on to the Declaration. In fact, it is only the beginning of a dialogue based on mutual respect and partnership to give life to the minimum standards set out in the Declaration."

When the UN Declaration was passed in 2007, Canada was one of only four countries - along with New Zealand, Australia and the United States - to vote against the Declaration. Australia was first to reverse its position, now joined formally by the statement of New Zealand on April 19th, 2010. On April 20th, 2010 U.S. Representatives also signaled that they will be reviewing their position in consultation with U.S. Tribal Leaders and interested non-governmental organizations.

"There is clear momentum among Indigenous peoples and all states to move forward using the Declaration as our collective framework," stated National Chief Atleo. "Our presentation at the UN Permanent Forum will speak to the importance of implementing the Declaration and how it will assist us in focusing our work on important and urgent matters like land claims, citizenship, border issues and resource issues, including water."

The special North American panel presentation will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in the General Assembly Room on Thursday, April 22nd from 3pm - 6pm local time. The National Chief will be joined by representatives from the Governments of Canada and the United States, an Indigenous representative from the United States and UNPFII member Ms. Tonya Gonella-Frichner.

This is the ninth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, a forum established by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in July 2000. The Forum provides expert advice and recommendations on Indigenous issues to the UN system through the Council; raises awareness and promotes the integration and coordination of relevant activities within the UN system; and disseminates information on Indigenous issues. The theme of this year's forum is "Development with Culture and Identity".

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

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information: For further information: Karyn Pugliese, A/Communications Director, Assembly of First Nations, Cell: (613) 292-1877 or kpguliese@afn.ca


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