Assembly of First Nations Welcomes Canada's Unqualified Support for UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

OTTAWA, May 10, 2016 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde and AFN Regional Chief for Quebec-Labrador Ghislain Picard today welcomed the Government of Canada's unqualified support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the 15th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) underway in New York, NY.

"Today, Canada is sending an important message to Indigenous peoples, to all Canadians and to the international community that Indigenous rights are human rights," said AFN National Chief Bellegarde.  "Canada's commitment to work with First Nations to fully adopt and implement the Declaration is a crucial step in reconciliation, rebuilding the relationship and honouring the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action.  The UN Declaration is a framework and an essential tool to guide the work of reconciliation that will move us all forward."

The UN Declaration sets out minimum standards for ensuring Indigenous peoples enjoy fundamental human rights, including the collective right to self-determination and rights in their traditional territories.  The Government of Canada formally adopted the Declaration in 2010, but this was accompanied by statements outlining several qualifications.  Similar statements were made by Canada in 2007 at the UN General Assembly (where Canada actually voted against the Declaration) and again in 2014 when Canada issued an Explanation of Vote at the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

"First Nations will continue to press at every level for the full implementation of the Declaration which is good for Indigenous peoples and all Canadians," said AFN Regional Chief Ghislain Picard.  "The Declaration sets a strong foundation for the way in which we should work together – respectfully, nation-to-nation and in the spirit of reconciliation."

The AFN has been pushing for full and unqualified support for the UN Declaration.  On April 15 of this year National Chief Bellegarde wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to utilize the UNPFII as an opportunity to express unqualified support for the Declaration to "…signal to the international community that Canada is a human rights leader rather than an obstacle respecting this key UN human rights instrument."  Today, federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Bennett stated on the floor of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that Canada is officially a full supporter of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without qualification.

National Chief Bellegarde will be at the 15th session of the UNPFII Thursday May 12 to attend a side event on implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. 

The theme of the 15th Session of the UNPFII is "Indigenous peoples: conflict, peace and resolution".  For live video streaming of all open meetings visit

The Assembly of First Nation is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates and visit the AFN website at


SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information: Jenna Young Castro, AFN Communications Officer, 613-241-6789, ext. 401; 613-314-8157 or; Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer, 613-241-6789, ext. 382, 613-292-0857 or

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