The head of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations says he is extremely disappointed with Canada’s remarks at the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted an outcome document to monitor the progress on implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. However, a civil servant speaking on behalf of the government took issue with the outcome document saying Canada does not support parts of the declaration where free, prior and informed consent could be viewed as a right to veto.
FSIN Chief Perry Bellegarde, who was in attendance at the New York conference, says he was astonished by the remarks.
“After that outcome document was adopted, Canada was the only state to get up and come to the mic and say that we’ve got some issues with Article 3 and Article 4 and Article 20 of the outcome document and we will be formally tabling a written response,” he says.
Bellegarde says he had been planning a different address to the conference but felt he had no choice but to respond to the Harper government’s remarks.
“Canada adopted the declaration back in 2010 but what they said yesterday kind of misled the assembly and Indigenous people that they didn’t really agree with free, prior and informed consent because they viewed it as a veto. So, they had to be taken to task on their comments.”
The FSIN says it believes the government is misinterpreting the UN Declaration and the document does not give Indigenous communities an absolute veto.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has opted not to attend the UN conference.