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Resource development must respect the human rights of Indigenous Peoples

    September 07, 2012

    On the eve of the 5th anniversary of the landmark United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, leaders of organizations respected for their defense of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and Colombia will hold a press conference on Parliament Hill to call for urgently needed action.

    WHO:  Luis Evelis Andrade, Chief Counsellor, National Indigenous Organization of Colombia
    Anne Marie Sam, founder of First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining, Canada
    Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
    WHEN:  Wednesday, September 12th, 10 AM
    WHERE:  Charles Lynch 130S Centre Block

    September 13, 2012 marks five years since the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The Declaration recognizes the right of Indigenous Peoples to manage their own lands, territories and resources as part of the minimum standards necessary to ensure the “survival, dignity and well-being” of Indigenous peoples.

    With governments in Canada promoting increasingly intensive forms of resource development at home and abroad, the need to fully implement the UN Declaration is more urgent than ever.  Lived experience in Canada and Colombia demonstrates that without recognition and protection of their human rights, pursuit of unrestrained resource extraction threatens the cultures, subsistence and very survival of Indigenous Peoples

    In 2009, Colombia’s Constitutional Court concluded that at least one-third of 102 distinct Indigenous nations in the South American country face the imminent risk of physical or cultural  “extermination” as a consequence of armed conflict and forced displacement from their lands. The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) has identified 31 other Indigenous Peoples at risk of “extinction” amidst violence which Amnesty International reports is often used as a cover to take control of land rich in economic potential. ONIC leader Luis Evelis Andrade is in Ottawa to launch a photo exhibit entitled “This is what we want to tell you: messages from Indigenous Peoples at risk of annihilation in Colombia” and to call for concerted action to prevent a humanitarian tragedy.

    Anne Marie Sam is an Indigenous woman from the Nak'azdli First Nation in central British Columbia. Her family has lost access to their traditional lands because of the construction of a large open pit mine, the first large scale mine in BC in more than a decade. Her community would also be affected by the construction of the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline. Anne Marie Sam is the founder of First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining and a member of the board of Mining Watch Canada.

    Alex Neve is Secretary General of Amnesty International, a human rights organization that has documented the impact of unrestrained resource development on the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and Colombia.

    Beth Berton-Hunter,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    416-363-9933, ext. 332