Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine celebrates United Nations Day



    OTTAWA, Oct. 24 /CNW Telbec/ - "Today is a day to celebrate the
achievements of the United Nations since it came into being in 1945,"
National Chief Phil Fontaine said. "The UN promotes respect for human rights,
the protection of the environment, the fight against disease and the reduction
of poverty. It has worked on many important initiatives including, most
recently, the passage of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples."
    The Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly after a vote of
144 to 4, with 11 abstentions, last month. Only Canada, the United States,
Australia and New Zealand voted against it. The Declaration confirms rights in
many areas, including education, health, and employment. It sets out minimum
standards for the survival, dignity, and overall well-being of Indigenous
peoples.
    According to a new report by Miloon Kothari, the UN Human Rights
Council's Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, some of the standards in the
Declaration are not being met in Canada. Earlier this week, he released the
preliminary findings of his report on affordable housing and human rights in
Canada. Kothari discovered a violation of human rights in First Nations
communities.
    "What is required is for First Nations right to self-determination," said
Miloon Kothari. "If this is not done, it will lead to extinguishment of
Aboriginal rights. The federal government must honour its fiduciary and treaty
rights."
    "The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that
First Nations have the right to self-determination, and the right to
self-government, so the Declaration recognizes and affirms our rights to
continue to develop our own institutions on our own terms," National Chief
Phil Fontaine said. "This process is integral to ensure that we achieve even
greater successes in our efforts aimed at strengthening our nations and
creating happy, healthy communities."
    Canada is also being criticized by the international community because it
voted against the recognition of human rights of Indigenous peoples while
being a member of the UN Human rights Council. UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights, Louise Arbour, was recently quoted by the Canadian Press as having
expressed her "profound disappointment" with Canada's position on the
Declaration. She added that it was a surprising stand for a country that likes
to see itself as a model of tolerance and respect for the rights of all.

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




For further information:

For further information: Joan McEwen, Director of Communications, (613)
241-6789, ext. 242, cell (613) 324-3329, jmcewen@afn.ca; 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


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