Tory Indigenous Rights Stance Still A Sore Point

Thursday, December 11, 2008 at 15:31



The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations says the federal government’s continued efforts to avoid endorsing a UN resolution affirming Indigenous rights are shameful.


Phil Fontaine’s remarks come after Canada opposed the recognition of Indigenous rights in a new international initiative on climate change that was advanced in Poland this week.


Canada, the United States and Australia expressed interest in including reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in this agreement.


However, as the text was being drafted on Tuesday, Canada joined the United States, Australia and New Zealand in insisting that references to Indigenous rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples be struck from the text.


Fontaine says the move goes against a motion passed in the House of Commons which called on Parliament to adopt the UN declaration.


At the AFN special chiefs assembly in Ottawa earlier today, Fontaine told Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl that “this means a lot to us” and if his government changed its position on this document, it would make Canada better.


Strahl didn’t respond to Fontaine’s appeal.


Meantime, many of the chiefs attending this week’s special assembly in Ottawa are voicing concerns over the government’s seizure of First Nations children.


One official says 27,000 First Nations kids have been taken from their families for various reasons.


Randall Phillips, a chief from Ontario, says he knows there are some instances where some action needs to be taken.


But he says much of the blame for the problems can be attributed to government policies that have pushed Aboriginal people away from a more traditional lifestyle.


He adds his band has refused to sign a new child welfare agreement with the government due to its concerns.