As part of Arthur Manuel’s campaign against the 150th celebration in Canada, Arthur was also planning to go to Geneva to appear before the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in August 2017 when Canada is scheduled to report on its treatment of Indigenous Peoples. He was preparing a counter-report to inform the world that the Trudeau government is maintaining the colonial Indian Act and its immoral, illegal land claims policies that deny Aboriginal collective title, treaty rights and our right of self-determination. We are sending our own delegation, in Arthur’s words, to “escalate the assertion of our rights from a purely domestic strategy to an international strategy across nations.” (http://redrisingmagazine.ca/what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it)
On August 9, Russell Diabo, Nicole Schabus, Sharon Venne and Ska’hish Manuel will be attending the 93 Session (31 Jul 2017 – 25 Aug 2017) of CERD – the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Canada will tell CERD that they have a plan going forward: the 10 principles recently released by the Trudeau Government that will advance “renewed relationships with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights”. But what is behind these promises?
Read the Joint Recommendations by the Indigenous Nations appearing before the Committee here, where we get to the heart of the issue.
INDIGENOUS NATIONS CONFRONT CANADA’S COLONIAL AND RACIST LAWS AND POLICIES
(August 15, 2017 Geneva, Palais Wilson, United Nations) Indigenous Nations presented to the CERD on Monday August 14th, 20017 in Geneva Switzerland decrying 150+ years of colonialism in Canada. The Coalition of Indigenous Nations who are the proper title and rights holders brings together Interior Alliance members nations with large territories in the Interior of British Columbia, including the Secwepemc, St’at’imc, Okanagan and Nlakapa’mux Nations; Nations East of the Rockies, including Beaver Lake Cree Nation, Lubicon Lake Nation, O’Chiese First Nation, Onion Lake Cree Nation and TsuuT’ina Nation, and; and Algonquin Nations, including Timiskaming, Wolf Lake and Barriere Lake. They submitted joint recommendations (attached to this release) to CERD for condemnation of Canada’s reliance on the racist colonial doctrines of discovery for its claim to underlying Crown title to all land in Canada. Further, the Nations submitted that due to Canada’s racist policies in relation to our lands and resources – all our rights are violated on a daily basis.
On Monday morning, Indigenous Nations, as the Title and Rights holders, led off the official dialogue with CERD members. Phyllis Whitford, O’Chiese First Nation acknowledged that Indigenous Peoples have lived on turtle island since the beginning of time in accordance with their natural and creator’s laws which govern them to exercise, maintain and strengthen connection to the land and all our relationships with the Creation.
Ms. Whitford was followed by representatives of Interior Alliance Nations, including Ska7cis Manuel (Secwepemc Nation); Chief Don Harris (Douglas First Nation, St’at’imc Chiefs Council), Chief Darrell Bob (Xaxlip, St’at’imc Nation) and Chief Judy Wilson (Secwepemc Nation, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs), who called for recognition of indigenous land rights, underlying indigenous title to their territories and indigenous decision-making across their territories. They condemned Canada for maintaining land rights policies that aim at the de facto extinguishment of Aboriginal title; commodification of water and criminalization of indigenous land and water defenders.
Russel Diabo, Algonquin Nation Secretariat said: “without a doubt recognition of underlying Indigenous title and land rights is the core issue being discussed by our Nations.” He added “Canada’s Comprehensive Claims Policy still aims at the de facto extinguishment and termination of Aboriginal Title”.
The members of CERD were informed that the recently released 10 principles on Indigenous relationships remain rooted in the colonial doctrine of discovery. Further, the members were informed that these policies were developed without the free, prior and informed consent of the proper title and rights holders in complete violation of international laws especially our right of self-determination.
“We were able to lobby the members of CERD to ask Canada a question in relation to our treaty rights – when we go to court to protect our Treaty rights – Canada continues to allow the violator of our rights to destroy our lands. They do not stop the companies. Canada’s response this morning at CERD was a complete joke. They said that we can ask for the court to have the case put into abeyance while we negotiate. We negotiated a treaty with the Crown – we are done negotiating but due to Canada’s view of owing our underlying title – the state violates our rights on a daily basis” said Ron Lameman, Beaver Lake Cree Nation – Treaty 6.
For more information contact:
The joint recommendations by the Indigenous Nations appearing before the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination from August 13, 2017 are attached to this release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
INDIGENOUS REPRESENTATIVES HEAD TO UN COMMITTEE IN GENEVA
(AUGUST 11, 2017) After working to unsettle Canada at home, Indigenous Nations are in Geneva, Switzerland to provide information to the Expert members of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on the racism experienced on a daily basis by Indigenous Peoples. The representatives from various Indigenous Nations, the Defenders of the Land and Idle No More and their European allies are in Geneva, for the CERD meetings on August 14 and 15th, 2017 when CERD will review Canada.
The international delegation is part of several months of activities to protest Canadian colonialism that have been built around Canada “celebrating” 150 years of colonization of Indigenous territories. Arthur Manuel, an Indigenous leader who passed away in January 2017 had called on Indigenous Nations and Peoples to use Canada’s 150th anniversary to tell Canadians and the world that the time had come to decolonize Canada.
Indigenous Nations have been on our Great Turtle Island (North America) for thousands of years, yet Canada assumes that they own the Indigenous lands and resources. In its report to CERD and the recently released 10 principles Canada keeps relying on the colonial doctrines of discovery, claiming that they obtained underlying title to the land at the declaration of British Crown sovereignty. The Peace and Friendship Treaties nor any other document ever give any title to the British Crown is a core message being delivered by the delegations and that all Indigenous Nations across Canada maintain their inherent land rights and underlying title to the land.
Russell Diabo, a representative of Defenders of the Land and an organizer of the summer’s #Unsettle150 activities, is among those who will be appearing before CERD in Geneva. “Canada has signed all of the important international decolonizing treaties,” says Diabo, “but it has held on to its colonial relations with Indigenous Peoples within Canada.
In the past CERD and the UN Human Rights Committee have both criticized Canada for not respecting the rights of Indigenous Nations. There have been specific and pointed questions to Canada on its so-called “land claims” policies that force Indigenous Peoples to terminate their relation to their land in return for small cash settlements.
Indigenous Peoples and our relationship to our lands and our right to self-determination are a fundamental principle of international law. CERD has called on Canada in the past to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples especially in relation to racism directed at the Indigenous Nations. “Canada does not possess any document or documents other than the racist doctrine of discovery and underlying Crown Title to assume jurisdiction over our lands” Chief Judy Wilson of Neskonlith Indian Band of Secwepemc Nation.
Source: Janice Makokis on Scribed
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