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The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    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.

    The UN Declaration recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination and calls for the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in all decisions potentially affecting their land. The Declaration urges partnership and collaboration between states and Indigenous Peoples. It sets out the requirement of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to protect the right of Indigenous Peoples to make decisions about whether and when development should proceed.

    Implementation of the UN Declaration remains critical as Indigenous Peoples around the world continue to face exploitation of the natural resources of their territories. FPIC and other rights affirmed in the UN Declaration provide indispensable safeguards as Indigenous Peoples struggle to overcome a history of discrimination, marginalization and
    dispossession.

    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.

    In a statement released on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Peoples’ and civil society organizations say it is time to end the colonial practice of imposing development decisions on Indigenous peoples.

    August 09, 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. 

    Denied a voice in decisions which affect their lands, lives and livelihoods, Indigenous peoples are disproportionately affected by poverty, even when their lands are rich in natural resources. Without adequate legal recognition and protection of their rights to their traditional lands and territories, many live under constant threat of further dispossession. When imposed without meaningful consultation or respecting Indigenous peoples' right to free prior and informed consent, resource extraction, large-scale logging and other development projects can have disastrous affects on the well-being of Indigenous families and communities. Indigenous women continue to face a double discrimination of racism and sexism that fuels violence against them, while denying them adequate protection of the law.

    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.

    “Although there has been some progress towards implementation, Ecuador’s government has yet to apologize to the people of Sarayaku or properly regulate the right to consultation. They must be given the right to free, prior and informed consent before projects in their territory go ahead,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Americas Program director at Amnesty International.

    “The government also needs to accelerate the safe removal of the 1.4 tons of high grade explosives that the oil company left in their land, in line with community wishes”.

    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.

    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.

    In 2007, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations filed a complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal began hearings into the case this year. If the Tribunal agrees that this underfunding is discriminatory, the Tribunal has the power to order the government to change its policies.

    The federal government has argued that its funding of services in First Nations communities is outside the scope of the Human Rights Act. At one point, the government succeeded in having the case thrown out by the Tribunal, but the Federal Court reversed the decision and ordered new hearings.

    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

     

    August 08, 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.

    From 2002 onwards, Wiwa communities living in and near the planned construction area suffered a consistent pattern of intimidation, destruction of homes, attacks against places of cultural significance and threats and killings of their spiritual and community leaders, carried out by the security forces operating in alliance with paramilitary forces. Guerrilla groups operating in the region were also responsible for killings and threats against members of the Wiwa population.

    By the time construction on the dam began in 2006, many members of Wiwa Indigenous communities were forcibly displaced from their homes.

    March 14, 2012

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

    In a report released this week, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern over Canada’s failure to properly respect the land and Treaty rights of Indigenous peoples, noting "the rigidly adversarial positions taken by Canada" in land negotiations and that decisions over resource development are often made without proper consultation or the consent of the affected peoples.

    The Committee also expressed concern over a wide range of inequalities and disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada, including the high rates of violence faced by Indigenous women, the large numbers of Indigenous children being placed in state care, "excessive use of incarceration" in respect to Indigenous people in trouble with the law, persistent levels of poverty among Indigenous communities and inadequate access to employment, housing, drinking water, health and education, “as a result of structural discrimination."

    Gender, Indigenous rights, and energy development in northeast British Columbia, Canada

    Join Amnesty International's new campaign to make sure the safety and wellness of Indigenous women and girls in northeast BC, Canada, an area with massive hydroelectric, oil, gas, and coal projects, is not #OutofSightOutofMind! 

     

     

    “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.

    Hi-Ho Mistahey! by Alanis Obomsawin, National Film Board of Canada

    Hi-Ho Mistahey, a powerful new documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Alanis Obomsawim, tells the story of Shannen's Dream, a grassroots youth movement standing up for First Nations children and their right to equitable access to schools and education.

    Until February 16, you can click on the link above to view Hi-Ho Mistahey!  online. This special streaming presentation of the documentary is in collaboration with Have a Heart Day. Have a Heart Day is a national campaign, initiated by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society to promote the rights of First Nations children.

    More information on Have a Heart Day

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