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Indigenous Peoples

    February 10, 2021

    Amnesty International has worked in close partnership and collaboration with the signatories of this letter for over a decade. Recognizing and protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples is crucial for respecting the human rights of all.

    We thank them for this history, perspective, and human rights argument in favour of legislation to adopt and implement the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into Canadian constitutional law.

    February 9, 2021

     

    This is what we fought for:

    January 13, 2021

    The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls finished its work a year and a half ago, and the issue has largely faded from news headlines during the pandemic. But this human rights crisis has not gone away. In fact, according to a survey conducted last Spring by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people has increased during the pandemic.

    The federal government has still not issued a formal response to the National Inquiry’s Final Report. The much-anticipated National Action Plan to implement the National Inquiry’s 231 Calls for Justice, which was set to be released in June 2020, was delayed because of the pandemic. The government has stated that the plan is under development, but the timeline remains unknown.

    October 19, 2020

    By Ana Nicole Collins and Stacia Loft

    In February, as demonstrators across the country halted trains and stopped traffic in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders in northwestern B.C., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asserted that Canada is “a country of the rule of law, and we need to make sure those laws are respected.” We have seen too many examples of settler/Indigenous conflict, and now, just eight months later, we are witnessing another flagrant violation of Indigenous rights, as Mi’kmaq fishers have come under violent attack for exercising their longstanding treaty rights to fish lobster. So how does the rule of law apply?

    September 13, 2020

    National Implementation More Urgent than Ever

    The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly 13 years ago, on September 13th, 2007, as a global minimum standard to address widespread, severe, and systemic violations of the collective and individual human rights of Indigenous peoples.

    Since that time, the Declaration has been reaffirmed nine times by the General Assembly by consensus. No country in the world formally opposes it.

    The Declaration does not create new rights. It affirms the pre-existing, inherent human rights of Indigenous peoples, which constitute the “minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous peoples” globally. Implementation of the Declaration’s minimum standards within Canada is long overdue.

    The federal government has publicly committed to introducing legislation to guide national implementation of the Declaration.

    The process of moving such legislation forward must not be allowed to languish in endless hearings and debate.

    August 09, 2020
    Aerial view of the Amazon forest with a river running in the middle of it
    By Nadino Calapucha, head of communications at COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon basin)   The Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon and across the Americas have centuries of experience facing deadly threats.

    For over 500 years we have faced invasions, the loss of our ancestral lands, ethnic and socioeconomic discrimination that has led to displacement, illnesses, death, and the constant threat of cultural and physical extermination.

    For decades, large companies and governments have offered us what they call "economic development" in exchange for the extraction of irreplaceable natural resources. In reality, those uncontrolled practices have enslaved us and contaminated our lands, in a habitat that is of vital importance not only for the Peoples who live together there but for the whole planet.

    June 18, 2020
    Chief Roland Willson, West Moberly First Nation
     

    May 20, 2020

    Despite opposition from First Nations in northern Manitoba who are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 to their communities, this week Manitoba Hydro is replacing 700 people currently at the industry worker camp at the Keeyask dam project with up to 1,200 workers from across Canada and possibly the United States.

    The provincial government has said that Northern Manitoba remains closed to non-essential travel to halt the spread of COVID-19. However, the province deemed construction of the Keeyask dam as an essential service. The four First Nations—Tataskweyak Cree Nation, Fox Lake Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation, and York Factory Cree Nation—have partnered with Manitoba Hydro to build and operate the dam but, despite legal obligations, Manitoba Hydro has not worked collaboratively to obtain consent to this most recent decision to expand operations and is ignoring requests by the four partner First Nations to limit work at the dam site because of public health concerns.

    March 16, 2020

    Manitoba Hydro states that its operations are “good for Manitobans, good for our environment.” But good for which Manitobans?

    Decades of Manitoba Hydro operations in the north of the province are associated with harms to the land, water, and animals, as well as profound adverse impacts on the health, safety, and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples. The impacts include a heightened risk that Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people will experience violence.

    Take action now calling on Manitoba Hydro to address the discrimination, harassement, and violence at Keeyask!

    March 11, 2020
    Quesnel Lake/Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe: a Love Story 

    Christine McLean is ready to retire. After running a successful electrical business in Calgary for the last 20 years, the Kamloops, BC born and raised McLean planned to move back to BC with her husband, Eric. In 2014 they began laying plans to spend their retirement years living in what Christine describes as, “paradise” – a gorgeous log cabin on a large, treed lot perched above the stunningly beautiful Mitchell Bay on Quesnel Lake. For Christine, it is a place for the spirit to rest and the heart to soar.

    For Secwepemc and Nuxalk activist Nuskmata (Jacinda Mack), Quesnel Lake is part of her cultural heritage. Raised in the northern Secwepemc community of Xat’sull, Nuskamata spent her youth out on the land and eventually came to work for her Secwepemc community as the Natural Resources manager. Her mother taught her that for Indigenous peoples, “our economy walks on the land and swims in the waters.” She calls the relationship between her community and the land a ‘love story’. 

    January 20, 2020

    This photo was taken in March of 2009 as the Yakye Axa and Sawhoyamaxa Indigenous communities marched to Paraguay’s Congress to deliver signatures of support from around the world. Amnesty International has worked alongside the communities for over a decade to try and restore their rights to life, to property and to judicial protection. They had been living in exile in dangerous and precarious conditions since being displaced from their ancestral territory.

    On December 10 -- International Human Rights Day, appropriately -- after approval from Congress, the president of Paraguay issued a law to expropriate a piece of land needed to construct a road. The road will finally allow the Yakye Axa community access to their lands.

    October 25, 2019

    Our nations and organizations welcome the tabling of Bill 41, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, to provide a framework for implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in British Columbia. The Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples is urging all members of the provincial legislature to support the Bill in a non-partisan manner.

    The Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples is made up of Indigenous Nations, Indigenous peoples’ organizations, civil society groups and individual experts and advocates. The Coalition has been deeply involved in the development, promotion and implementation of the Declaration. We are firmly convinced of the Declaration’s vital importance for achieving justice, reconciliation, healing and peace.

    July 02, 2019

     “The Panel is convinced that the Tsilhqot’in cultural attachment to Fish Lake (Teztan Biny) and the Nabas areas is so profound that they cannot reasonably be expected to accept the conversion of that area into the proposed New Prosperity mine.” – from the 2013 federal environmental assessment of the last project proposed by Taseko Mines and ultimately rejected by the federal government 

    Amnesty International is urging the Province of British Columbia to suspend permits that could allow destructive mineral exploration to begin as early as this week on lands that the Tsilhqot’in National Government has long sought to protect.

    The Tsilhqot’in people describe Teẑtan Biny (Fish Lake) and Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake) and the surrounding area as “a place of profound cultural and spiritual significance.” The destructive impacts of mining exploration cannot be justified, especially in light of the fact that exploration will almost certainly never lead to the actual opening of a mine. 

    June 15, 2019

    Young people from Grassy Narrows are travelling to Toronto for a massive rally on June 20th to focus attention to urgency of addressing the crisis of mercury poisoning facing their First Nation.

    Amnesty International is urging its members and supporters to do all they can to help this vital and timely campaign.

    The people of Grassy Narrows are living with the devastating consequences of a half century of mercury contamination of their rivers and lakes. The harm they’ve experienced, including erosion of culture, loss of livelihoods, and one of the worst community health crises anywhere in Canada, has been made so much worse by decades of government denial and inaction. 

    Last month, federal Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan visited Grassy Narrows but failed to deliver on a long promised treatment centre for mercury survivors. 

    This stalling and inaction is all the more shocking in light of the fact that two of the United Nations independent human rights advisors, the expert of health and the expert on toxic wastes, have now both urged Canada to take action on the mercury crisis.

    June 14, 2019

    Quebec Native Women was founded in 1974 to fight sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act. Forty-five years later, this discrimination persists. Amnesty International spoke with Quebec Native Women’s Legal and Policy analyst Éloïse Décoste to learn more about steps her organization is taking to end sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act once and for all. Here’s what she had to say.

    TAKE ACTION NOW For people who aren’t familiar with the issue, can you please tell me how the Indian Act discriminates against Indigenous women?

    The Indian Act determines who is consider an Indian in the eyes of the government. Historically, an Indian* would be defined as a man, his wife, and his children. When an Indian woman married a man without Indian status, she lost her own status and could not pass her status on to her children. This was the situation until 1985.

    May 07, 2019
    Illegal land seizures and logging on the rise in Indigenous territories in Brazil’s Amazon  Recent reductions in government monitoring aggravate the risk of conflict Looming dry season set to intensify pressure on traditional lands 

    There is an imminent risk of violent clashes in Brazil’s Amazon region unless the government protects Indigenous peoples’ traditional lands from increasing illegal land seizures and logging by armed intruders, Amnesty International warned today.

    Amnesty International recently visited three different Indigenous territories in northern Brazil where illegal intruders had begun or expanded efforts to seize land and/or cut down trees. Indigenous leaders told the organization that they had received death threats for defending their traditional lands. They also fear new intrusions in the dry season (May/June to October/November) when easier physical access to forests facilitates clearance and burning.

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