Ontario Regional Chief calls United Nations vote "historic, and a significant achievement"



    TORONTO, Sept. 14 /CNW/ - Yesterday the United Nations General Assembly
adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous
peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment,
health, education and other issues. This landmark Declaration was passed by a
vote of 143 to 4, with 11 countries abstaining.
    "The passage of the UN Declaration marks a truly historic occasion. This
Declaration is the result of over 20 years of negotiations and is a
significant achievement for not only Indigenous Peoples but all people that
value basic human rights and dignity," said Ontario Regional Chief Angus
Toulouse.
    The Regional Chief pointed out that the UN Declaration sets out new
minimum standards with respect to the survival and dignity of Indigenous
people and encourages all First Nation leaders and citizens to use the
Declaration in their advocacy and negotiations.
    Canada was among the group of four countries, which included the United
States, Australia and New Zealand, that opposed the Declaration. "There is
significant disappointment that Canada so strongly opposed the Declaration,
especially given that Canada is a country that promotes itself as a leader in
human rights within the international community. Their opposition is certainly
contrary to a reputation that many Canadians hold dear," stated the Regional
Chief.
    The Regional Chief indicated that he was pleased with the support
demonstrated by the Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission,
Barbara Hall. The Commissioner released a statement in the Toronto Star on
September 13 endorsing the UN Declaration and calling on Canada to support it
in an effort to affirm its "commitment to the rights of Indigenous peoples who
are increasingly alienated by the inaction of governments in this country".
    Despite the disappointment with Canada's opposition, Regional Chief
Toulouse explained that First Nations people in Canada should view the passage
of the UN Declaration as an historic milestone. "This Declaration clearly
demonstrates that the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental
freedoms applies to all peoples across the globe. To Indigenous people in
Canada this is a victory" said Regional Chief Toulouse.





For further information:

For further information: Pam Hunter, (416) 597-1266 or Policy Advisor,
(613) 203-3233

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Chiefs of Ontario

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