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QUEBEC CITY, – Sept. 13 – Two years ago, on September 13, 2007, one of the most innovative and encouraging instruments in international law and human rights, was signed: the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the aim of which is to protect some 370 million people around the world. Canada is one of the three countries which continues to reject this document. Quebec, despite several invitations, also remains silent on the question. “How can you explain the fact that governments who call themselves champions of human rights, like the governments of Quebec and Canada, continue to refuse to support a document which recognizes the fundamental human rights of aboriginal peoples?” asks Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) who participated today in the Moulin à paroles.”Canada’s refusal to sign the declaration is inconceivable”, declared Chief Picard while pointing out that the document is a reference guide which is particularly useful in the interpretation of the rights of aboriginal peoples and the obligations of States towards them. This kind of instrument is also extremely important in the State’s fulfilling of its commitments vested in the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The position of the Canadian and Quebec governments is that much more surprising since the United States and New Zealand (the two other countries who have not signed) have recently shown signs of revising their position regarding the adoption of the Declaration. “What is Canada waiting for?” asks Chief Picard, “and what about Quebec, who for the last two years has hidden behind an almost indecent silence?”
Faced with the immobility of the provincial and federal governments, several Quebec organisations decided to form the Coalition for the Rights of Quebec Native Peoples in the aim of having the Declaration recognized. The Coalition has already received the support of several personalities and organisations within Quebec’s civil society. The AFNQL salutes this demonstration of their support and reaffirms its endorsement of this initiative, one of the main objectives of which is to collect signatures on a petition demanding Canada’s adoption of the Declaration. This petition is available on line, on the home page of the AFNQL’s website at (http://www.apnql-afnql.com). The Coalition’s communiqué is available on the French section of the Amnesty International’s website (http://www.amnistie.ca).
About the AFNQL:
The AFNQL is a regional organisation which regroups the Chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.
For further information: Alain Garon, Communications officer, AFNQL, (418) 842-5020, Cell.: (418) 956-5720
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