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UN CERD Report Calls on Canada for Immediate Measures to Implement Treaties & Uphold Human Rights
Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan and Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, Alberta – March 14, 2012 -
Chief Perry Bellegarde, official spokesperson for the Treaty 4 First Nations, and Chief Cameron Alexis, Grand Chief for the Treaty 6 First Nations, are in their respective Treaty territories today reacting to the concluding observations of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s (UN CERD’s) recent review of Canada.On February 20, 2012, Bellegarde and Alexis appeared before the UN CERD in Geneva, Switzerland as part of the Committee’s review of Canada. Today, the UN CERD released its concluding observations. Bellegarde and Alexis are very pleased with the Committee’s recommendations regarding treaty implementation. “The CERD’s recommendation that Canada ‘give serious consideration to the establishment of a Treaty Commission with a mandate to resolve treaty rights issues’ is one which I urge Canada to implement,” declares Bellegarde, who had formally asked the CERD to recommend that Canada implement a Treaty Commissioner appointed by and accountable to Parliament and indigenous peoples, with power and authorities much like the Auditor General.
“The CERD’s recommendation that Canada ‘find means and ways to establish titles over their lands, and respect their treaty rights’ reinforces the present day relevance of our Treaties. And implementing our treaties is necessary for self-determination. To truly be self-governing, we need the right to consultation and to free, prior and informed consent to be implemented,” states Alexis.
Informing these recommendations is the fact that Canada is rated 6th on the United Nations Human Development Index and when First Nations statistics are applied to the same index, First Nations peoples in Canada are rated 63rd. CERD specifically comments on the large socio- economic gap between First Nations people in Canada and the rest of Canadian society that still exists. “This must be addressed by our direct and full meaningful participation with governments and industry in all resource development so that we all benefit and see the socio- economic gap close. This can be done by implementing and giving full effect to the Treaties according to their spirit and intent”, agree Bellegarde and Alexis.
Chief Perry Bellegarde is the official Treaty 4 Spokesperson and Chief of the Little Black Bear First Nation. Treaty 4 was entered into between the Crown and the Nahkawe, Nakota and Plains Cree Indigenous Nations in 1874 whereby it was agreed to share 75,000 square miles of traditional territory to “the depth of a plow”, extending from the southeast corner of Alberta, to most of southern Saskatchewan to west central Manitoba in exchange for promises by the Queen of reserve lands, agricultural provisions, protections for hunting, trapping and fishing, schools, annuities and well-being of the children and generations to come, “as long as the sun shines and the water flows.” The governing authority of the Treaty 4 First Nations Chiefs Council has a membership of 34 chiefs, representing the 34 communities of Treaty 4.
Chief Cameron Alexis is the Treaty 6 Grand Chief and Chief of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation. The office of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations was created in the spring of 1993. Its purpose: to serve as the united political voice for those First Nations of Treaty Six who were involved, because they believe that there is a need for fundamental treaty and human rights of First Nations people to be protected.
The International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination is a legally binding international treaty to which Canada is a signatory. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is the independent expert body that oversees compliance with that treaty. Last month, Canada’s record was reviewed at a Committee meeting in Geneva. The review process is a key mechanism for ensuring that states live up to their obligations under the treaty.
More than 35 Indigenous nations, national and regional Indigenous peoples’ organizations, human rights and social justice organizations filed their own alternative reports. Some 20 Indigenous Nations and organizations sent representatives to Geneva to participate in the process.
An “advanced, unedited” version of the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations was released yesterday.
The Concluding Observations are posted online at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/docs/CERD.C.CAN.CO.19-20.pdf
Submissions to the Committee are posted online at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/cerds80.htm
Chief Perry Bellegarde
Contact: Valerie Galley
Chief Cameron Alexis
Contact: Ann Gladue-Buffalo
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