KAIROS Welcomes the Government of Canada’s Endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
KAIROS joins with Indigenous peoples in Canada and their supporters in welcoming Canada’s endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, announced in a press release today.
The Declaration was adopted by the United Nations on 13 September 2007 by a vote of 144-4. On that day, Canada was one of the four counties to vote against this important international human rights instrument, along with the Australia, New Zealand and the United States. KAIROS has worked for years with Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world to ensure the successful adoption of the Declaration by the United Nations, and its endorsement by Canada.
In a letter to the government in June, the leaders of KAIROS’ eleven member churches and religious organizations welcomed the announcement in the March 3rd Speech from the Throne that the government was moving to endorse the Declaration, and urged it to work with Indigenous peoples “on a respectful process for the full endorsement and implementation” of the Declaration.
KAIROS’ petition to the House of Commons –part of its 2010-2011 education and action campaign– requests that the Government of Canada “immediately and unconditionally endorse and implement” the Declaration.
Now that the important step of endorsement has been taken, the real work of implementation begins. As with the federal government’s apology to the former students of residential schools in 2008, this endorsement represents another important step towards a new relationship with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada — a relationship that recognizes and respects their rights.
KAIROS’ 2010-2011 campaign invites us to reflect on our shared journey towards right relationship, and we look forward to working with Indigenous peoples, their allies, and governments at all levels towards a society where Indigenous peoples are genuinely involved in the promotion and protection of their rights.
As the Government explained in its announcement, the Declaration sets out a number of principles to guide the relationship between Indigenous peoples and States, including equality, partnership, good faith and mutual respect. KAIROS is encouraged by the government’s statement that it “strongly supports these principles and believes that they are consistent with the Government’s approach to working with Aboriginal peoples.”
KAIROS also agrees with the Government when it says this endorsement provides an opportunity to “continue working in partnership with Aboriginal peoples in creating a better Canada.”
While the Government admitted it continues to have concerns about the Declaration, it is significant to note that it now feels “confident that Canada can interpret the principles expressed in the Declaration in a manner that is consistent with our Constitution and legal framework.” This was the main message of an Open Letter issued on 1 May 2008 by more than 100 experts on constitutional and international law relating to Indigenous peoples.
KAIROS will continue to work with Aboriginal organizations and the Government of Canada towards the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Our campaign for the realization of Indigenous rights continues.
For more information, contact Ed Bianchi, Program Coordinator for Indigenous Rights, 613-235-9956 x 221, firstname.lastname@example.org
Assembly of First Nations news release- National Chief Welcomes Canada’s Endorsement of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: http://www.afn.ca/cmslib/general/10-11-12%20UND%20press%20release_Fe%20%282%29.pdf
Canada’s Statement of Support on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ap/ia/dcl/stmt-eng.asp