UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Canadians have been
called upon to take the Federal government to task

OTTAWA, Dec. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - The First Nations call on all Canadians to pressure the Canadian government into adhering the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. "The Conservative Party of Stephen Harper is certainly isolated in its opposition to the recognition of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a Declaration recognized world-wide and which enjoys unconditional popular support. We now ask the Canadian people to show their support for our approach to the implementation of this Declaration", said Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL).

Shawn A-in-Chut Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), and First Nations Chiefs from across Canada are mobilized, following the initiative of the AFNQL, to invite Canadians to sign a petition calling on Canada to join the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. "I thank Regional Chief Ghislain Picard and the AFN Quebec-Labrador region for their leadership on this campaign. I, along with the leadership of First Nations across Canada, fully support the AFN Quebec-Labrador in this effort. First Nations are moving forward and implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and we urge all jurisdictions to work towards the fulfillment of these basic standards of human rights", persisted Chief Atleo, during a press conference officially launching the petition.

We must remember that, on September 13, 2007, the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This Declaration is the result of almost twenty years of work by Indigenous groups around the world. It contains minimal standards for the survival of Indigenous peoples and was adopted by 143 nations, with only four voting against. Since then, Australia has changed its position and New Zealand and the United States wil reexamine their positions, leaving Canada alone in its colonial position.

Support from civil society

The AFNQL has campaigned for several months to sensitize the Quebec civil society to recognize the importance of the Declaration. Recently, a coalition composed of several social groups has emerged. This coalition wants this supportive initiative to gain momentum across Canada and within the Canadian population. "Today we are circulating this very important petition to all the Chiefs of the Aboriginal communities in Canada. We also expect to significantly increase the number of coalition members who will bring this petition, along with its impacts, into their networks", said Beatrice Vaugrante, Chair of Amnesty International's French sector, and a spokesperson for the coalition.

The purpose of this petition is to continue to apply pressure on the Canadian government to adopt the Declaration. "Today, on December 10, International Day of Human Rights, we call on all Indigenous peoples and all Canadians to sign the petition so that the basic rights of Indigenous peoples are respected throughout Canada", said Ellen Gabriel, President of Quebec Native Women Inc. as well as a spokesperson for the coalition.

To sign the petition online, please visit www.apnql-afnql.com

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador

For further information: For further information: Eric Cardinal, Communications Advisor, (450) 638-5159, (514) 258-2315, eric@cardinalcommunication.com

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