The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

September 24, 2014

Indigenous peoples’ organizations and human rights groups are outraged that the federal government used a high level United Nations forum on Indigenous rights as an opportunity to continue its unprincipled attack on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

September 12, 2014

September 13th marks the 7th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a consensus global human rights instrument. The Declaration calls on all states to safeguard the traditional land and resource rights of Indigenous peoples, including legal title to lands. The Declaration also requires fair and transparent mechanisms to ensure any disputes over lands and resources are resolved in a just and timely manner.

September 10, 2014

Open Letter to the Premier of British Columbia

Dear Premier Christy Clark,

In Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, the Supreme Court recognized the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s ownership of title land in its traditional territory. This decision provides a crucial opportunity to re-frame the relationship between First Nations and the province of British Columbia.

August 7, 2014

"We lived at the side of the road, we lived badly. Several members of the community died in accidents, of disease. Nobody respected us. Now this is our victory. I am very happy, and I cry because my grandmother, my father and many members of my family did not have the opportunity I have today to enjoy our land.

June 19, 2014

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BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Amnesty International Canada, Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Chiefs of Ontario, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, Grand Council of the Crees
(Eeyou Istchee), Indigenous Rights Centre, Indigenous World Association, and KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.

June 19, 2014

19 June 2014

BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Amnesty International Canada, Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Chiefs of Ontario, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee), Indigenous Rights Centre, Indigenous World Association, and KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

May 12, 2014

by Craig Benjamin,
Indigenous Rights Campaigner, Amnesty International Canada

A leading United Nations human rights expert says the situation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada has reached "crisis proportions in many respects."

In a just released report, James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, highlights a wide range of concerns documented during his 2013 research mission to Canada.

April 10, 2014

The federal government is currently reviewing two reports concerning proposed pipelines and other resource development in western Canada.  Both acknowledge the need for Indigenous peoples to be meaningfully consulted in all decisions affecting their lands and futures. However, neither report properly addresses the legal framework of
Indigenous peoples’ human rights. As such, these reports fail to provide sufficient guidance as the government considers potential approval of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and other projects.

February 27, 2014

In a decision released on February 26, federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq rejected the proposed New Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine, stating that the significant environmental impacts of the proposed mine could not be justified.

February 27, 2014

Amnesty International is joining the Tsilhqot'in people and their many other allies and supporters in celebrating the Government of Canada's decision to reject a proposed gold-copper mine on their traditional territory.

This is the second time that the federal government has rejected plans by Taseko Mines to open a mine near Teztan Biny or Fish Lake in central British Columbia.

The Tsilhqot'in people have consistently opposed plans to mine near Teztan Biny, calling the proposed New Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine the wrong mine at the wrong place.

February 13, 2014

Indigenous peoples have the right to make their own decisions to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ whenever governments or corporations propose actions that could impact their lives and futures. The exercise of this human right is known as "free, prior and informed consent" or FPIC.

February 13, 2014

If the review of the proposed New Prosperity Copper-Gold Mine project is to be conducted and determined in manner that is consistent with Canadian and international law, it must recognize Indigenous peoples' customary rights to their traditional lands, and treat the protection of these rights with the utmost seriousness.

In this submission, Amnesty International draws the Panel’s attention  to the following principles which we demonstrate are well-established in law:

February 12, 2014

-Chief Joe Alphonse, Tsilhqot'in National Government
-Robert Morales, Chief Negotiator, Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group
-Jay Nelson, lawyer for the Tsilhqot'in National Government
-Paul Joffe, lawyer, author and expert on international law

Moderator: Jennifer Preston, Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)

February 12, 2014

An evening of dialogue with Grand Chief Ed John, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Paul Joffe and Jennifer Preston.

January 31, 2014
Amnesty members in Regina taking part in the annual Have a Heart Day campaign.

Every child has the right grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy, and be proud of who they are.

It’s hard to imagine anyone disagreeing.

Yet year after year, First Nations children are denied these basic rights.

For most children in Canada, health care, education and family services are funding through the provincial or territorial governments. But for First Nations children on reserves, these same services are funded by the federal government.

November 21, 2013
Chief Joe Alphonse of the Tsilhqot'in Nation spoke outside the Supreme Court

A case before the Supreme Court could mark an important turning point for the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada. At stake is the right of the Tsilhqot’in Nation to own lands at the heart of its traditional territory in British Columbia.

Amnesty International and Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers) have joined together to urge the Court to seize this moment to give practical application to human rights standards affirmed in international law. This includes rights to lands and territories affirmed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

November 20, 2013

On November 7, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada heard the crucial case of William v. British Columbia. At stake is the right of the Tsilhqot’in Nation to own lands at the heart of its traditional territory. Canadian law recognizes that Indigenous peoples may hold ongoing title to their lands that predates colonization. Yet to date no Canadian court has ever affirmed such Indigenous title.

November 4, 2013
by Craig Benjamin, Campaigner for Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Tsilhqotin drummer

Photo:  Tsilhqot'in healer Cecil Grinder

A proposed gold-copper mine would have “severe” and “irreversible” impacts on the rights of the Tsilhqot’in people of central British Columbia.
November 1, 2013

 

David Alward, Premier of New Brunswick
Centennial Building
P.O. Box 6000
Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1

 Dear Premier Alward:

October 21, 2013

By Craig Benjamin, Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The United Nation’s top expert on the human rights of Indigenous peoples says Canada is facing a “crisis” which must be addressed.

James Anaya visited Canada this month as part of a fact-finding mission. At a press conference to conclude his visit, the Special Rapporteur said,

October 8, 2013

by Craig Benjamin, Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Over the next week, the United Nation’s top expert on the human rights of Indigenous peoples will be meeting with government officials and First Nations, Inuit and Métis organizations, communitie,s and activists across Canada.

October 7, 2013

By Craig Benjamin, Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Today, October 7th, is an important moment to reflect on Canada’s long unfulfilled promise to respect the land rights of Indigenous peoples.

Two hundred and fifty years ago today, on October 7th, 1763, King George of England formally proclaimed that even as the British Crown asserted its control over North America, Indigenous peoples’ lands would continue to be protected for their use.

September 19, 2013

In presenting a deeply disappointing report today at the UN Human Rights Council, outlining Canada’s response to a review of the country’s human rights record carried out in April 2013, the Canadian government has squandered a valuable opportunity to move forward in addressing important national human rights concerns and to demonstrate human rights leadership on the world stage.

September 12, 2013

Six years ago – on September 13, 2007 – the United Nations General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the minimum standards for the “survival, dignity and well-being” of Indigenous Peoples around the world.

September 12, 2013

Indigenous Peoples’, human rights, and faith organizations are calling on Canada to ensure that Indigenous Peoples can freely decide for themselves whether and when resource development projects will take place on their traditional lands and territories.

August 9, 2013

Today, the World Day of Indigenous Peoples, Amnesty International stands in solidarity with Indigenous peoples around the world as they confront the marginalization and discrimination that continues to threaten and undermine their fundamental human rights. 

July 25, 2013

The government of Ecuador must do more to protect the human rights of the indigenous people of Sarayaku if it is to fully comply with an international court ruling said Amnesty International. A year ago today the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ruled that Ecuador must apologize, consult with and recompense the Sarayaku people over an oil project which damaged their ancestral lands and put their lives at risk in the Amazon region in eastern Ecuador.

May 23, 2013

by Craig Benjamin,
Campaigner for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples



 

Anne Marie Sam of the Nak'azdli First Nation stands near her great-grandfather's grave on the shores of the Nation River and points to Mt. Milligan, site of a gold and copper mine now under construction.

Anne Marie Sam of the Nak'azdli First Nation stands near her great-grandfather's grave on the shores of the Nation River and points to Mt. Milligan, site of a gold and copper mine now under construction.

Walking up the long dusty road to where the Mt Milligan gold and copper mine is now under construction, Anne Marie Sam of the Nak’azdli First Nation describes the many ways – including hunting, fishing and gathering plant medicines – that her family has lived on the land that is now consumed by the mine’s footprint.

“This mine,” she says, “means that my children will not have the opportunity to grow up experiencing that same connection to the land.”

The Mt. Milligan mine, located northwest of Prince George in British Columbia is expected to begin operation this year and to continue production for at least 22 more years.

The mine affects lands, rivers and streams that are the subject of unresolved legal claims involving four First Nations, including Nak’azdli, which has never entered into a treaty with Canada.  In their traditions, the people of Naka’zdli follow a Keyoh system in which responsibility to care for specific areas of the territory are handed down with the family from one generation to the next. The Mt. Milligan mine development consumes most of Anne Marie Sam’s family Keyoh.

The mine development was approved by environmental assessments carried out by the provincial and federal governments. The federal assessment acknowledged the importance of Indigenous peoples’ multigenerational use and traditional management of the land. Nonetheless, the assessment concluded that the mine would not cause significant harm because this use could resume some day in the future after mining ends.

March 12, 2013

The Federal Court of Appeal has firmly rejected government efforts to shut down an important inquiry into discrimination against First Nations children.

The case concerns the well-established fact that the federal government allocates less funding per child for family services in First Nations reserves than its provincial counterparts provide in other communities.

January 15, 2013

“Canada must now work out fair and lasting terms of coexistence with Aboriginal people…. Canada’s claim to be a fair and enlightened society depends on it.” -- Recommendation of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1996.

November 30, 2012

When the El Cercado dam opened in November 2010, its Colombian project managers trumpeted it as an engineering triumph built entirely with national know-how.

Moreover, the project was touted as a way to help combat the effects of recurrent droughts in La Guajira, a north-eastern region.

But for the Wiwa Indigenous Peoples native to the area’s Sierra de Santa Marta mountains, the dam’s arrival signalled a devastating change in their way of life accompanied by a series of serious human rights abuses.

November 30, 2012

The United Nations’ highest body for combating racism is urging Canada to take comprehensive action to end discrimination against Indigenous peoples.

November 21, 2012

"Adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the General Assembly was a momentous event, and recent statements of formal support, or movement towards support, by the few States that originally voted against its adoption are to be welcomed. But these achievements cannot be seen as the final or principal goals. Rather, it is the faithful implementation of these rights that must be the focus of concerted attention." - The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples