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Indigenous Peoples

    August 23, 2018

    by Craig Benjamin and Jackie Hansen

    A new report describes the devastating impact that decades of hydroelectric development have had for First Nations in north-eastern Manitoba, including allegations of sexual assault and other violence by workers brought into the communities to build the dams.

    The publication of this report underlines just how important it is that the voices of Indigenous peoples – especially Indigenous women – are heard and listened to when decisions are made about large dams and other resource development projects.

    August 16, 2018
    UN Declaration booklets published by the Coalition

    In recent months, the federal government and a number of provinces and territories have made significant, welcome commitments to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    The House of Commons has now passed Bill C-262, which would establish a legislative framework requiring the federal government to work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples to fully implement the Declaration. Bill C-262 will be debated in the Senate this Fall.

    With these important developments, the UN Declaration has become the subject of a welcome focus of public policy discussion. Unfortunately, opposition by the previous governing party left a legacy of confusion and misinformation about the Declaration and these misrepresentations continue to be repeated.

    July 26, 2018

    The BC government has launched an Environmental Assessment Revitalization process as part of its commitment to reshape the way BC makes decisions about natural resource projects, industrial activities and more.

    YOU have an opportunity to help shape the future of environmental assessments in BC by providing your input.

    BC’s current environmental assessment law is failing British Columbians and the lands and waters we rely on. Amnesty International has joined 23 other environmental, social justice and community groups in putting forward a shared vision of what future environmental assessments should look like.

    July 26, 2018

    “A B.C. government, led by me, will officially adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples…I will work with you to align the actions of my government with the Declaration.” – NDP leader John Horgan, prior to the 2017 provincial election

    “It is well established that statements by elected representatives do not fetter decision makers, nor do political speeches constitute legally enforceable promises against the Crown.” – the Government of British Columbia’s written submission to the Site C injunction hearing

    BC Premier John Horgan has said many fine words about upholding the rights of Indigenous peoples. He made these promises while running for office and he has repeatedly affirmed them since becoming Premier. But in the most significant test to date of the veracity and integrity of these commitments -- the arguments now being made in front of the crucially important Site C injunction hearing -- Premier Horgan’s government has done the very opposite of what it promised.

    May 31, 2018

    The Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples – made up of Indigenous Nations, Indigenous peoples’ organizations, civil society groups and individual experts and advocates - is commending Members of Parliament on the adoption of Bill C-262, a private members bill to implement the UN Declaration.  

    Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild, who served as Commissioner with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said today, “The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a crucial and indispensable tool for the urgent work of reconciliation. Romeo Saganash deserves the thanks of all Canadians for bringing this Bill forward, as do all the other Members of Parliament who supported it. With Bill C-262 now moving to the Senate, we have cleared an important hurdle in bringing the UN Declaration to life in Canada.”

    May 28, 2018

    Open Letter to All Members of Parliament

    Bill C-262 provides principled framework for implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    Our nations and organizations are urging all Members of Parliament to support Bill C-262 in a non-partisan manner when it comes to a vote at third reading.

    The government of Stephen Harper endorsed the UN Declaration in 2010 and expressed “confidence” that the Declaration is consistent with Canada’s Constitution and legal framework. The government of Justin Trudeau has repeatedly pledged to fully implement the Declaration. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whose Calls to Action have been widely endorsed by a wide range of political parties at the federal, provincial and territorial levels, urged all governments to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as ‘the framework for reconciliation’ in Canada.  

    May 14, 2018

    UPDATED July 10, 2018

    "To our allies, we say, 'keep fighting.' And to those of you just learning about this ruinous decision, don't stand for it...Call, meet, write, email, tweet." - Chief Lynette Tsakoza, Prophet River First Nations

    We're at a crucial turning point for the future of the Peace River Valley.

    On December 11, BC Premier John Horgan announced that construction of the Site C dam would continue despite his previous acknowledgement that "constitutional rights to practice hunting and fishing" would be "violated by this dam."

    Critically, however, the fight to protect the Peace Valley is not over. The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations have take the federal and provincial governments to court, alleging that flooding the Peace Valley would violate their Constitutionally-protect rights to hunt and fish as guaranteed by their Treaty. 

    Now, in an amazing victory of principle over politics, the federal government has told the court that it will not oppose the First Nations request to put the project on pause until the court case has been resolved.

    April 26, 2018

    "People shouldn’t have to go to court to claim their rights" – federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, speaking at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, April 2018

    In the coming weeks, two governments that have repeatedly promised to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples will be in court to defend a massively destructive resource development project that they approved without ever once considering whether it would violate Canada’s Treaty obligations to the affected First Nations.

    The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are asking the court to halt construction of the Site C dam which would flood more than 100 km of the Peace River Valley and its tributaries. 

    The environmental assessment of the project found that its impacts on First Nations cultural sites and way of life would be serve, permanent and irreversible. The United Nations’ top anti-racism body, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has called for a halt to the project as a violation of the rights of Indigenous peoples.

    February 16, 2018

    AN OPEN LETTER TO AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SUPPORTERS

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

    February 14, 2018

    Every woman and girl has the right to live in safety without threat of violence, intimidation, or harassment.

    Canadian government statistics show that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women and girls face much higher rates of violence than all other women and girls in Canada. Large gaps in government support for services to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities deny Indigenous women and girls supports they need to escape and recover from this violence.

    There are roughly 15 shelters and transition houses serving 53 Inuit communities across the Arctic. Some of these shelters are extremely small and most communities are accessible only by air.

    The federal department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs reports that it provides funding for only 41 shelters to serve the 634 recognized First Nations communities in Canada. According to the National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence, as of January 2018 only 38 shelters were operational.They do not provide funding to shelters in Inuit communities.

    February 05, 2018

    Open Letter to All Members of Parliament

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission urged all governments to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as ‘the framework for reconciliation’ in Canada. Members of Parliament have a crucial opportunity to contribute to reconciliation by supporting Bill C-262 when it comes to a vote at second reading this month.

    Bill C-262 provides a framework for the federal government to collaborate with First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation in the important work of ensuring that Canada’s laws, policies and operational practices live up to the human rights commitments affirmed in the UN Declaration. As a legislative framework that integrates regular reporting to Parliament, Bill C-262 provides the means to hold this and future governments accountable for living up to the commitments that they have made to honour and respect the rights of Indigenous peoples.

    December 08, 2017

    The upcoming ministerial meeting on human rights demonstrates that federal, provincial and territorial governments in Canada recognize that more must be done to fulfill Canada’s domestic and international commitments to recognize, respect and fulfill human rights. As a concrete and meaningful way to better address this need, our organizations are calling on the federal, provincial and territorial governments to work collaboratively with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples as well as with African Canadians and other communities of colour, and engage with civil society to undertake a formal and systematic review of the most recent United Nations treaty body report on Canada.

    December 07, 2017

    Governments across Canada have an unprecedented opportunity to begin addressing long-standing deficiencies in the implementation of the country’s international human rights obligations by laying the groundwork for a coordinated approach to upholding rights across all levels of government, says Amnesty International Canada in a briefing paper submitted to federal, provincial and territorial Ministers.  For the first time in 29 years, Ministers will meet to discuss cross-jurisdictional weaknesses and challenges in implementing Canada’s commitments under an array of binding international human rights instruments. 

    December 05, 2017

    The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a consensus international human rights instrument elaborating standards for the survival, dignity, security and well-being of Indigenous peoples of the world. Today, MP Romeo Saganash’s private members bill on implementation of the UN Declaration, Bill C-262, will begin debate at second reading in Parliament.

    Our Nations and organizations have been deeply involved in the development, promotion and implementation of the UN Declaration. As Grand Chief Abel Bosum of the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee (northern Quebec) underlines, “We are firmly convinced of the Declaration’s vital importance for achieving justice, reconciliation, healing and peace.”

    November 01, 2017

    Ottawa, November 1, 2017 – The interim report released today by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls makes recommendations for immediate action, many of which were set out in previous reports.

    “Minister of Indigenous-Crown Relations and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett has said repeatedly that the federal government wouldn’t wait for the Inquiry’s final report before addressing well-known gaps in protections and support for Indigenous women and girls,” said Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada. “The government must keep this promise. It is crucial that the government’s response to the Interim report clearly sets out what the government is committed to do and when.”

    The interim report calls on the federal government to:

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