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OTTAWA, April 9 – The National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine, the President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Mary Simon and the President of the Metis National Council Clement Chartier together announced their overwhelming support for yesterday’s decision by the Canadian Parliament to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on April 8, 2008. “I am very optimistic about the support demonstrated yesterday by Members of Parliament who voted on a motion that called for the government to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 13th September, 2007,” Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations noted. “I am pleased that the majority of MPs showed their support for this internationally supported Declaration and I look forward to working with those supporters to implement the human right standards noted in the Declaration. I would also encourage all provincial and territorial governments to adopt motions of support for this very important Declaration like the Government of Northwest Territories did.”
“The UN Declaration promotes minimum human rights standards necessary to the ‘survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of the world.’ These include the right of self-determination, protections from discrimination and genocide, and recognition of rights to lands, territories and resources that are essential to the identity, health and livelihood of Indigenous peoples,” Mary Simon National Leader for Inuit of Canada stated. “That this Parliament now acknowledges this standard is an important touchstone in the relations between the government and the indigenous populations.”
Clem Chartier, President of the Métis National Council also recognizes “the important step gained in the majority will of Parliament who represent the majority of Canadians to support a fundamental human rights instrument that bolsters the rights of all Indigenous peoples.” “The Métis Nation in solidarity with all Indigenous peoples in Canada look forward to the full implementation of the Declaration at home,” he said.
During the House of Commons debate over the resolution, government spokespersons claimed that the Declaration would undo centuries of Canadian treaties with Indigenous peoples despite the fact that the UN Declaration explicitly states that treaties and other agreements with Indigenous peoples are to be respected.
The Declaration also contains numerous provisions which explicitly state that it is to be balanced against other human rights protections and interpreted in accordance with principles of democracy, good governance and respect for the rights of all.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. ITK is the national voice of Canada’s Inuit. The MNC represents Metis people in Canada.
For further information: Joan McEwen, AFN Communications Director, (613) 241-6789 ext. 242, cell (613) 324-3329, email@example.com; Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor – Office of the National Chief, (613) 241-6789 ext 243, cell (613) 298-6382, firstname.lastname@example.org; John Merritt, ITK, (613) 238-8181, email@example.com
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