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Indigenous Peoples in Canada

    July 04, 2016

    Last week’s court decision on the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline provides a crucial opportunity for the federal government to fulfil its promise to uphold the human rights of Indigenous peoples.

    On June 30, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the 2014 Cabinet decision to allow construction of the massive oil sands pipeline. The court concluded that the decision-making process fell “well-short “ of long-established legal standards for the protection of Indigenous rights in Canada.

    The court has called on the federal government to undertake a new consultation process with First Nations to address critical issues of Indigenous concern, such as the project’s impact on Indigenous land title, resource rights, and governance. The court said that these matters had been given only “brief, hurried and inadequate” consideration before the project was approved.

    Given the serious concerns that Indigenous peoples have repeatedly raised about Northern Gateway, Amnesty International is renewing our call for the federal government to respect the right of First Nations to say no to this project.

    April 19, 2016

    The latest scientific study of the potential impacts of a large hydro-electric dam now under construction in Labrador once again underlines the profound failure of the federal and provincial governments to properly safeguard the human rights of Inuit hunters and fishers who rely on downstream waters for their subsistence, health, and culture.

    Construction of the Muskrat Falls dam is underway. As is the case with all large dams, the flooding will result in the formation of methylmercury as vegetation decomposes.

    Methylmercury is one of the most dangerous environmental contaminants. It  accumulates in the food chain, reaching higher and higher concentrations in top predators such as seals and large fish. Consumed by humans, methylmercury can lead to a wide range of debilitating health effects, including neurological degeneration, and cognitive impairment among infants and children.

    February 19, 2016

    Before and after images show destruction that has already occurred as construction of Site C dam presses ahead
     

    Indigenous activist explains the importance of halting the Site C dam

    When Helen Knott talks about the importance of the Peace Valley, she inevitably also talks about her grandmother. About time spent together out on the land, learning the stories that have been passed down through the generations. Learning the skills of how to live on the land. And trying to ensure that this knowledge can be passed on to her own son.

    “All my grandmother’s stories are connected to land,” says Helen. “It’s like that for our elders. You have to be on the land to be able to share those memories.”

    February 11, 2016

    Organizations from across Canada are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take immediate action to halt construction of the Site C dam in north-eastern British Columbia

    In an open letter released today, more than 25 organizations, including Amnesty International, the David Suzuki Foundation, and Sierra Club BC, denounced the project for violation of rights protected under Treaty 8, the Canadian Constitution, and international human rights law.

    Although promoted by the government of BC as a “clean” source of renewable energy, the joint federal-provincial environmental impact assessment panel concluded that the Site C dam would severely and permanently undermine Indigenous peoples’ use of the land and destroy important cultural sites and a unique ecosystem.

    January 26, 2016

     

    Amnesty International welcomes today’s ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal which has ordered the federal government to take immediate action to end the discriminatory underfunding of child and family services for First Nations children on reserves and in the Yukon.

    Although the provinces and territories have jurisdiction to set standards for child welfare services, the federal government sets the funding levels for those services delivered to First Nations children and families on reserves and in the Yukon.

    The Tribunal concluded that the federal government’s arbitrary funding formula fails to consider “the actual service needs of First Nations children and families” and creates “incentives to remove children from their homes and communities.”

    The discrimination complaint, initiated by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations, first came before the Tribunal in 2008. Amnesty International intervened in the case, as did Chiefs of Ontario.

    January 26, 2016
    “This is a great day for First Nations children and all Canadians who believe in justice and fairness.” Dr. Cindy Blackstock, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

    In a landmark decision issued today, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that the federal government’s longstanding underfunding of child and family services on First Nations reserves and in the Yukon is a form of racial discrimination that must be stopped.

    January 22, 2016

    In an open letter sent this week, five national organizations that have been deeply involved in efforts to expose and address violence against Indigenous women and girls call on the federal government to ensure that the forthcoming national inquiry can:

    January 20, 2016

    “Reconciliation means not having to say sorry twice,” Dr. Cindy Blackstock, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

    Education. Health Care. Child protection.

    For years, persistent federal government underfunding of these basic services in First Nations reserves has put  children at risk. It has denied them the kinds of opportunities that other young people in Canada often take for granted. And it has stood in the way of First Nations communities healing from the terrible harms inflicted through the residential schools programme and other colonialist policies.

    Now, we may be on the verge of an historic breakthrough.

    Next Tuesday, January 26, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is scheduled to deliver its long-awaited decision on whether or not the federal government’s underfunding of child protections services and other family supports is a form of racial discrimination.

    January 07, 2016

    The province of British Columbia is pushing ahead with construction of a hydro-electric megaproject in the Peace River Valley despite unresolved legal challenges from First Nations. A camp set up by community members at an historic site in the path of BC Hydro's efforts to clear the planned reservoir has led to a temporary halt in logging. But the community members now face the risk of arrest for their actions.

    The rapidly evolving situation highlights the urgent need for the federal government to honour its Treaty commitments by suspending all federal licenses and permits for the project so that the underlying issues of Constitutionally-protected rights and due process can be addressed.

    The following is a press released issued by the community members.

     

    First Nations Prepare for Arrest to Stop Site C Dam
    Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land call on Trudeau to stop megadam in B.C.'s Peace Valley

    November 24, 2015

    Respect for Indigenous peoples' right of free, prior and informed (FPIC) must be a matter of urgent priority for any government committed to a respectful relationship with Indigenous peoples.

    This is part of a message to the the new Prime Minister and his Cabinet from Indigenous peoples' organizations, human rights groups, environmentalists and others.

    In an open letter sent today, 16 organizations from across Canada called on the federal government to collaborate with Indigenous Peoples’ governments and organizations to ensure that:

    November 24, 2015

    Dear Prime Minister,

    Our organizations welcome your public commitment to a renewed relationship between the federal government and Indigenous Peoples in Canada based on the rights guaranteed in Canada’s Constitution and enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We hope that this vision of cooperation and partnership will shape your government’s actions and priorities from the outset.

    We are encouraged that, as a “top priority”, you have mandated the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to support reconciliation and implement the UN Declaration.

    In particular, our organizations believe that there is an immediate and pressing need for your government to collaborate with Indigenous Peoples to institute the crucial human rights safeguard of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in the laws, policies and procedures of the federal government.

    November 24, 2015

    BY CRAIG BENJAMIN AND JACKIE HANSEN

    Indigenous women and girls in Canada are roughly 7 times more likely to be targeted by serial predators. This is according to an article in the published this week in the Globe and Mail.

    November 09, 2015

    Inuit people in Labrador who depend on the Lake Melville estuary to hunt and fish are concerned about the impact of a large hydro-electric dam being built upstream. They are particularly concerned that the dam will lead to methylmercury contamination of fish and seals, rendering them unsafe to eat.

    The Inuit government of Nunatsiavut has not opposed the Muskrat Falls dam. But it has called for rigorous measures to protect the health and livelihoods of its people. These measures include a full clearing of the reservoir before flooding to reduce the amount of methylmercury produced, establishment of a downstream monitoring program designed and overseen by an independent expert advisory committee; and significant Inuit participation in high-level environmental monitoring and management decisions.  

    November 09, 2015

    House of Assembly
    Confederation Building, East Block
    P.O. Box 8700
    St. John's, NL A1B 4J6

     

    RE: Inuit rights and downstream impacts of the planned Muskrat Falls dam

    Dear Premier Paul Davis, Mr. Dwight Ball, and Mr. Earle McCurdy,

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the potential for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam to cause serious harm to downstream Inuit communities has not been properly dealt with, as required both by Canadian law and international human rights standards.  We are writing this letter to you in your capacities as party leaders because we believe this is a pressing human rights concern that, regardless of the outcome of the upcoming provincial election, requires action and vigilance from both the government and the entire legislative assembly.

    October 13, 2015

    OTTAWA, Oct. 13, 2015 /CNW/ - Over ninety organizations and First Nation communities sent an open letter to federal party leaders today urging them to prioritize funding commitments to end the drinking water crises in Indigenous communities.

    The letter reads, "Despite repeated pledges from the federal government to ensure clean drinking water, there are routinely over 100 water advisories in effect in First Nation communities, with some communities living under advisories for over 10 years." Based on Health Canada and the First Nations Health Authority's latest figures, there are a total of 162 drinking water advisories in 118 First Nation communities.

    Last week, Neskantaga First Nation demanded action from federal parties on its 20-year boil-water advisory, the longest running drinking water advisory in Canada.

    The groups are calling on federal party leaders to:

    • commit to investing $470 million annually for the next 10 years in First Nations water treatment and wastewater systems

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