First Nations set to implement UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    VANCOUVER, Feb. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - Today First Nations leaders are
gathering for a two-day symposium in Vancouver where they will consult
representatives from the United Nations about how the UN Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples can be implemented in Canada. AFN National Chief
Phil Fontaine says First Nations are set to implement the UN Declaration.
    "We are looking forward to hearing from international experts on how we
can move forward and implement the UN declaration in Canada," said National
Chief Phil Fontaine. "We believe, and the international community agrees, the
UN Declaration will benefit First Nations, Canada, and the world by setting
minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of all Indigenous
    "The UN Declaration is a valuable instrument that can be used to create
opportunities for new and improved relationships between indigenous peoples
and States in North America and throughout the world," said Grand Chief Edward
John, a member of the First Nations Summit political executive and First
Nations Leadership Council. "Through forums and discussions such as this,
First Nations in Canada can come together to strategize on how to use this
valuable instrument towards the betterment of our people and how we can
continue to put pressure on Canada to follow Australia's lead and abandon its
colonial policies in support of the full implementation of the UN

    Highlights of the first day will include:

    - 9:15 am - Opening remarks by First Nations leaders.
    - 12:30 pm - Media availability with AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine and
    Grand Chief Edward John of the First Nation Summit and First Nations
    leadership Council.
    - 2:00 p.m. - An international panel, including experts from the United
    Nations, will advise First Nations about using the UN's human right's
    mechanisms to promote the Declaration. The panel includes: Victoria
    Tauli-Corpuz, Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues,
    Connie Taracena, Minister Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Guatemala to
    the United Nations, Claire Charters, Senior Lecturer, Victoria University
    of Wellington; Tonya Gonella Frichner, North America representative, UN
    Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and Les Malezer, Spokesperson,
    National Aboriginal Alliance of Australia.

    The UN Declaration passed last fall, with only Canada, New Zealand, the
United States and Australia dissenting. Canada's opposition came after more
than two decades of involvement in the drafting of the Declaration. Since
then, all opposition parties in Canada have urged the federal government to
support the Declaration. Meanwhile, the Labour Party, newly-elected as the
government in Australia, made a campaign promise to support the Declaration.
    The two-day event is open to all media. The full agenda is available
online at:

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

For further information:

For further information: Media: Karyn Pugliese, AFN Communications,
(613) 292-1877,; Colin Braker, Communications Director, First
Nations Summit, (604) 328-4094,

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