Parliament votes to endorse the UN's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Press release ...

Fontaine, Simon and Chartier Congratulate Canadian Parliament for their support of the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

OTTAWA, April 9 /CNW Telbec/ - The National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine, the President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Mary Simon and the President of the Metis National Council Clement Chartier together announced their overwhelming support for yesterday's decision by the Canadian Parliament to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on April 8, 2008.

"I am very optimistic about the support demonstrated yesterday by Members of Parliament who voted on a motion that called for the government to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 13th September, 2007," Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations noted. "I am pleased that the majority of MPs showed their support for this internationally supported Declaration and I look forward to working with those supporters to implement the human right standards noted in the Declaration. I would also encourage all provincial and territorial governments to adopt motions of support for this very important Declaration like the Government of Northwest Territories did."

"The UN Declaration promotes minimum human rights standards necessary to the 'survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of the world.' These include the right of self-determination, protections from discrimination and genocide, and recognition of rights to lands, territories and resources that are essential to the identity, health and livelihood of Indigenous peoples," Mary Simon National Leader for Inuit of Canada stated. "That this Parliament now acknowledges this standard is an important touchstone in the relations between the government and the indigenous populations."

Clem Chartier, President of the Métis National Council also recognizes "the important step gained in the majority will of Parliament who represent the majority of Canadians to support a fundamental human rights instrument that bolsters the rights of all Indigenous peoples." "The Métis Nation in solidarity with all Indigenous peoples in Canada look forward to the full implementation of the Declaration at home," he said.

During the House of Commons debate over the resolution, government spokespersons claimed that the Declaration would undo centuries of Canadian treaties with Indigenous peoples despite the fact that the UN Declaration explicitly states that treaties and other agreements with Indigenous peoples are to be respected.

The Declaration also contains numerous provisions which explicitly state that it is to be balanced against other human rights protections and interpreted in accordance with principles of democracy, good governance and respect for the rights of all.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. ITK is the national voice of Canada's Inuit. The MNC represents Metis people in Canada.

For further information: Joan McEwen, AFN Communications Director, (613) 241-6789 ext. 242, cell (613) 324-3329,; Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor - Office of the National Chief, (613) 241-6789 ext 243, cell (613) 298-6382,; John Merritt, ITK, (613) 238-8181,


Union of BC Indian Chiefs press release

Harper Government Continues to Deny Justice for Indigenous Peoples

April 9, 2008

“The Union of BC Indian Chiefs welcomes yesterday’s historic vote in Parliament endorsing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “However we are exasperated and infuriated that the Conservative members of Parliament voted against the motion to endorse this vitally important international human rights instrument.”

After more than 20 years of development and negotiation, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2007 with an overwhelming majority of 143 in favour, 4 opposed and 11 abstentions. Canada was one of four countries to vote against the adoption of the Declaration. Since then, the Government of Australia, also one of the four countries opposed, has endorsed the Declaration.

Yesterday, Parliament passed a motion to endorse and “fully implement” the Declaration as adopted by the UN.

“In a country that continues to build its prosperity through the ongoing exploitation and vast development of the lands and resources of Indigenous Peoples, it should come as no real surprise that the Conservative government continues to take every opportunity to undermine and deny Aboriginal Title and Rights” added Grand Chief Phillip. “Rather than recognize Indigenous land rights, the Harper Conservative Government would much rather witness the jailing of Indigenous leaders who seek to protect and safeguard their rights.”

“We challenge Canada to do the right thing. Take a progressive step forward on the international stage, reverse its opposition and work with us to implement and uphold the principles contained in the Declaration” concluded Grand Chief Phillip.

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Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
(250) 490-5314