OTTAWA, May 17, 2018 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde's said the report by the United Nations Human Rights Council's Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review examining Canada's human rights record highlights the need for action to end discrimination against First Nations in Canada's laws, policies and actions.
"It's clear that the world is aware of the work Canada needs to do to improve the lives of First Nations peoples and to honour, uphold and implement our rights," said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. "Indigenous peoples are referenced many times in the recommendations and observations from states, including the need to end discrimination in Canada's laws, policies and the country as a whole. Actions to ensure safety and security for Indigenous women and girls were brought forward numerous times, reinforcing our point that we can and must act now and not wait for the work of the National Inquiry. The only way we can achieve all these important goals is to work together using the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as our guide."
The Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, established in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 5/1, held its thirtieth session in May of this year and the review of Canada took place on May 11. Canada's delegation was headed by the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. The Working Group adopted the report on Canada on May 15.
The report includes a number of recommendations from states that point to ending discrimination and racism against Indigenous peoples in Canada, and calls for Canada to adopt or implement a number of human rights mechanisms. The report also includes a number of "Voluntary Pledges and Commitments" made by Canada. These include commitments to improve services delivered to Indigenous peoples; addressing violence against Indigenous women and girls; recognizing housing as a human right and co-developing distinctions-based approaches to First Nations, Métis and Inuit housing; and ending all long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations by March 2021.
AFN has repeatedly called on Canada to act on its statements of unqualified support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by ensuring the passage of Bill C-262 and explicitly renouncing the racist doctrines of discovery and terra nullius by addressing their impacts in all policy and law.
The National Chief noted a commitment by Canada to enhancing federal-provincial-territorial collaboration on human rights implementation through the creation of a "senior intergovernmental mechanism" did not include a reference to involving First Nations.
AFN National Chief Bellegarde stated: "Any senior intergovernmental mechanism must include First Nations and Indigenous peoples as full partners. The denial of our rights created many of the problems we're dealing with today. We're an essential part of the solution to a stronger, more fair and just country. This is our right and it is the right way to advance this work."
The 44 written stakeholder submissions to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that the same recommendations have been made repeatedly to Canada yet little progress had been made. The Canadian Human Rights Commission indicated that the current system for implementation of Canada's international human rights obligations were inadequate and ineffective. During the review, over 70% of interventions referenced Canada's obligation to address inequality facing Indigenous peoples and more than 1/3 of the recommendations focused on Indigenous peoples. Canada is required to provide responses to report no later than the thirty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council in September 2018.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
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