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Just What was said



The head of the Mi'kmaq Grand Council condemned the federal government yesterday for opposing the United Nations declaration on aboriginal rights.

During celebrations to commemorate a 1752 treaty that promised peace and friendship between the Mi'kmaq nation and the British crown, Grand Captain Andrew Denny said Canada and Nova Scotia continue to oppose the implementation of native rights.

"How many generations will have to wait until the peace and friendship talked about in the coveted treaty is realized?" Denny asked during a Treaty Day ceremony in Halifax.

"We wait for a day when treaty rights can be carried out without harassment," Denny said.

There is a large number of Mi'kmaq children, and the next generation is going to be well educated, he said. They "will be a force to be reckoned with," and governments have to decide if they want to be their partner or oppressor.

- "How many will have to wait ... until the treaty is realized?", Brian Flinn, The Daily News, 2 October 2007


"If Canada insists on maintaining its opposition, it will be a very black day for the country," Grand Chief Edward John, speaking for the Assembly of First Nations, in New York. "It cannot present itself as a promoter of human rights internationally when in its own backyard it votes against the human rights issues of indigenous people."

Steven Edwards, "Canada set to oppose UN native rights deal; Reopening of land claims feared in wake of declaration," National Post, September 13, 2007.

"In our view, it is a stain on Canada's international reputation ...It's a slap in the face for all indigenous peoples ... It's inexplicable - for 20 years, Canada worked to secure support from the UN member states for this declaration, which Canadians helped write. We have never taken a decision that has resulted in the dispossession of land and property of others ... Yes, this declaration reaffirms the collective rights of indigenous peoples - to land, to culture and to self-rule - but not in a way that will result in the human rights of others being compromised." - Phil Fontaine, Assembly of First Nations, Canada

Les Whittington, "UN vote `stain' on Canada's image Native leader denounces Harper government's opposition to declaration on aboriginal rights," Toronto Star, September 14, 2007. www.thestar.com/News/article/256516


"It's always been about trust ... We lobbied hard for the gender equality and non-discrimination (clauses). To me, this displays blatant disregard for all our struggles." - Beverley Jacobs, president

Steven Edwards, CanWest News Service, "Tories defend 'no' in native rights vote; Opposition to UN declaration was to protect non-native Canadians, minister says," Montreal Gazette, September 14, 2007.



This is a read only version of the original document which is signed by Stuart Myiow of the Mohawk Traditional Council official letterhead.

from Mohawk Traditional Council

September 20, 2007


Re: Canada's Minister of Indian Affairs, Chuck Strahl's racist statements supporting the opposition to the UNITED NATION'S UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES RIGHTS.

On September 13, the United Nations tabled a declaration; that would enable justice to prevail for the indigenous people of this world who have suffered centuries of genocide, at the hands of ruthless murderers.

This declaration is the manifestation of the collective conscience of the people of the world. It is an attempt to correct the crimes against humanity which have been inflicted upon the indigenous people, in the name of progress and the advancement of modern civilization. A civilization who's very existence is synonymous with the oppression, murder and genocide of indigenous people.

For the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, who fancy themselves as advanced democracies, voting against this declaration solidiÞes their place in history as thieves, murderers and the largest criminal organization on earth, under whom the United Nations are being manipulated.

Canada's Minister of Indian Affairs, Chuck Strahl, stated that if Canada did not oppose this "the rights of non-native Canadians would have been threatened." This racist statement confirms that in order for citizens of democracy, like Chuck Strahl, to exist, the rights of Native people must be oppressed. Exposing the true nature of democracy. It is not about equality, or justice, or basic human rights. Rather it is about criminals creating mechanisms to legitimize their criminal activity.

This is affirmed by Mr. Strahl's claim that "the declaration is inconsistent with Canadian legal tradition." For it is Canada's official tradition to steal land, to commit genocide through residential schools murdering children, to oppress Native hunting and fishing rights, to force us off our land into Nazi-style concentration camps and to deny our basic human right of our identity through enfranchisement. All inflicted with blatant out-right criminal intent, sanctioned by the constitution of Canada.

No where is the self-serving, criminal mind more evident than in Mr. Strahl's claim that "it would have given Native groups an unfair advantage.' To have Native rights recognized and justice prevail is not unfair. It's called, JUSTICE. To have criminals run rampant, free of any retribution, is lawlessness. To have a government protect encourage and defend such criminal acts is CRIMINALLY INSANE.

However, sanctioning crimes against humanity, through constitution, which Chuck Strahl so sternly defends, is not indicative only to Canada. As he states "it was significant that the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, all advanced democracies with significant indigenous populations, joined Canada in voting no."

Thus, each of these four countries is guilty of genocide. It is also significant that each country originates within Britain, still forcing colonial land theft and oppression of indigenous human rights.

With this action clearly exposing the genocide under which these four countries operate, the United Nations must take action on every level to remedy this situation. The responsibility of educating and correcting this genocide lies within each country of the world. For the countries carrying out the destruction of indigenous human rights, by voting down this declaration, are populated with people from every country on earth. In Peace and Friendship


Secretary, Stuart Myiow

Mohawk Traditional Council Box 531, Kahnawake Mohawk Territory

* * *


"Canada has shown its true colours on our human rights ... It is caught up in the contradictions of not following the recommendations of the all the UN human rights bodies that have told it to base its indigenous policy on 'recognition and coexistence' ... The entire wealth of the United States, Canada, and other so-called modern states is built on the poverty and human rights violations of their indigenous peoples. The international community needs to understand how hypocritical Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States are." - Arthur Manuel, a chief of the Secwepemc Nation, Canada

Haider Rizvi, "Jubilation as UN Adopts Historic Statement on Native Rights," OneWorld US, September 13, 2007. http://us.oneworld.net/article/view/153160/1/

"Canada is a leader in opposing the draft declaration. They are doing so because the draft declaration is inconsistent with Canada's getting away with the indigenous land claims." - Arthur Manuel


Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus was in attendance at the UN proceedings in New York City this morning and said he "is very pleased with the outcome at the UN" and went on to "congratulate the United Nations for passing the declaration." However, he is very saddened by Canada's clear objective to quash the positive developments of member states to support the declaration on behalf of their indigenous populations. "We are embarrassed to come from Canada. Canada's position is inconsistent with the Canadian public. Canada has a long history of advocating for the rights of its First Peoples."

The Dene leader added that historically, Canada has led the charge of strengthening the Human Rights of People worldwide. "This makes the position of the current minority Conservative government a bitter pill to swallow."

Tehaliwaskenhas Bob Kennedy, Oneida, "Shame on Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand," Turtle Island Native Network, September 15, 2007



"There is significant disappointment that Canada so strongly opposed the Declaration, especially given that Canada is a country that promotes itself as a leader in human rights within the international community. Their opposition is certainly contrary to a reputation that many Canadians hold dear."

- Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse



"We challenge Canada to take a step forward on the international stage and reverse its opposition and work with us to implement and uphold the principles contained in the Declaration."



"Inuit are disappointed with the Government of Canada's decision to vote against this historic declaration. This negative vote is also a black mark on the governments of the four countries that voted against the Declaration, and puts them out of step with the strengthening of human rights around the world. Notwithstanding, I have no doubt this Declaration is supported and welcomed by the vast majority of my fellow Canadians. ... Let us now turn to the future by building on the solid foundation of this Declaration. For our part, Inuit will use the Declaration to promote the ongoing enjoyment of our fundamental rights and the betterment of our living circumstances in our Arctic homeland." - Mary Simon, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

"Inuit Herald Historic Moment as UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples Overwhelmingly Adopted at United Nations in New York - Disappointed with Canadian Government Vote Against the Declaration," September 13, 2007. http://www.itk.ca/media/2007/press-archive-20070913.php

"A dark day for aboriginal Canadians and all indigenous peoples worldwide"
"A dark day for aboriginal Canadians and all indigenous peoples worldwide .. I feel our decades-long work undertaken in good faith has been undermined by our government. ICC took a lead in encouraging other indigenous peoples organizations to agree to numerous compromises proposed by governments along the way and now we are told the current draft, which is not even legally-binding, is in need of still further work" - Duane Smith, president of the Canadian section of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC).

"Inuit of Canada Condemn UN Vote to Postpone Decision on The Adoption of International Declaration Supporting Rights of Indigenous Peoples." 29 November 2006



"'Canada has continued to insist on the inclusion of discriminatory language in the Declaration as a requirement for its approval.' This was one of several charges presented to the CERD by the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) and the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations (CT6FN), representing 18 First Nations in Alberta. IITC is an Indigenous Organization with Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council. They were among several organizations representing First Nations of Canada which filed 'shadow' or parallel reports to the CERD, challenging the Canadian government's report.

"In addition to Canada's position on the UN Declaration, these submissions addressed a range of other urgent concerns for Indigenous Peoples. Of particular concern of many First Nations and their organizations is Canada's "modification" and "non-assertion" policies, demanding that First Nations relinquish aboriginal rights to land and natural resources in the settlement of land claims. The International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Committee voiced concern that these rights are being settled primarily through litigation at a disproportionate cost to Indigenous Peoples. The Committee urged Canada, 'to engage, in good faith, in negotiations based on recognition and reconciliation' of Indigenous rights.

"Other concerns raised by Indigenous Peoples and addressed by the CERD Committee included institutional racism and discrimination within the criminal justice and court systems, alleged Treaty violations, a range of inequities in social services and living conditions, gender discrimination and lack of protection against violence in particular towards Indigenous women, youth and children. On these issues the CERD Committee also called upon Canada to comply with its internationally binding human rights obligations under the CERD Convention."

"UN Committee asks Canada to change mind on indigenous declaration," Joseph Quesnel, First Perspective National Aboriginal News, March 13, 2007


* * *


"Tony Penikett, the author of a book on British Columbia land claims (Reconciliation First Nations Treaty Making in British Columbia, Douglas and McIntyre - Ed) and a former premier of the Yukon, told IPS, 'One of the problems for Canada in the past was trying to say with a straight face that they supported aboriginal advancement and were standard bearers for other countries. It is more accurate to say that Canada was bad, but was better than others.'

"Penikett added that not supporting the Declaration is a worrying trend, particularly with Canada's minority Conservative government and the influence of Harper's political advisor, Tom Flanagan, an extreme right-wing University of Calgary professor.

"'The Harper government has passed a human rights bill based on individual rights as opposed to collective rights. In Canada, we have individual rights, but also collective rights for the francophone minority and aboriginal people," Penikett said.

"'The idea of self-government is through one's own tribal government. By moving in the direction of individual rights, the government is inherently chipping away at that. Their refusal is part of that pattern, and I am surprised that no one has effectively made this a political issue at the national level,' he said.

"'Harper's advisors are interested in privatizing reserve land and attempting to deal with rights on an individual level. Flanagan was Harper's advisor, campaign manager and thesis advisor. He is ideologically an extreme right winger. They are essentially promoting an idea that was abandoned in Canada in the early seventies.'"

Am Johal, "Rights: First Nations Feel Betrayed by Canada at UN," IPS News, Posted on August 10, 2007



"By opposing this declaration the Conservative government has signaled to

aboriginal Canadians that their rights aren't worth defending. The government has also dramatically weakened the leadership role Canada has long enjoyed in the global human rights movement." Stéphane Dion, Liberal Leader


"With their no votes these governments, those of Canada, Australia, the United States and New Zealand, have effectively formed a block opposing the extension of the UN's anticolonial ideals into new frontiers where injustice and inequality have too long prevailed. Where it was the leaders of Anglo-America who initialed the Atlantic Charter, we see today the governments of the largest part of the English-speaking world lined up to oppose the collective political will of the vast majority of humanity who have been on the receiving end of the most aggressive expressions of colonialism and neocolonialism.

I find it difficult not to associate the arithmetic of the UN vote with an extrapolation of apartheid and White supremacy in a global context
"This vote against the rights of Indigenous peoples was pressed on the world in spite of the safeguards inserted into the instrument at the last moment. These safeguards make it explicit that nothing in the Declaration can be used 'to dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States.' Given the obvious common denominators linking the histories and demographic makeup of the four dissenting countries, I, for one, find it difficult not to associate the arithmetic of the UN vote with an extrapolation of apartheid and White supremacy in a global context. I find it difficult to see the vote as anything other than a troubling indication that the very polities which formed the United Nations in the fight against fascism have succumbed to some of the same forces that once animated the ideas of those who spoke the language of Lebensraum and the Manifest Destiny of God's Chosen People.

"Imagine if we lived at a time when parliamentarians voted on whether or not to abolish the slave trade or slavery itself. Imagine what it would mean to be represented by politicians who voted against abolition, who voted for slavery. Will posterity view the decision of the governments of Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand in a similar light? I think that possibility needs to be given serious attention. I think the children of the people who were enslaved and formally colonized have good cause to ask why the rich world would not follow the yes vote of the countries whose very membership in the UN embodies the history of anticolonial struggle. Make no mistake about it! The two great crimes against humanity perpetrated in the course of empire building since 1492 are the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the genocidal dispossession, disentitlement and disempowerment of Indigenous peoples around the world.

"As I see it incalculable consequences will flow from the no vote of governments whose most prosperous constituencies have benefited directly from the systemic dispossession of Indigenous peoples. What are the prospects for the institution of peace, order and good governance in the world's forests and in the other resource frontiers of capitalist globalization when the governments of Canada, New Zealand and Australia support the United States in opting for anarchy over the collective security of international law in the area of Aboriginal and treaty rights. Is it more than mere coincidence that some of the same governments attempting to invalidate or water down the strength of the international treaty on climate change are the same ones who have banded together to oppose the internationalization of the rights of Indigenous peoples?

Prof Anthony J. Hall, "Monocultures and biocultural diversity on the frontiers of global forestry and international law," A paper for presentation at the international conference to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto. 3 October, 2007.



"Yet those same four countries - Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand - took the astonishing retrograde step of voting against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The declaration, which was also endorsed last year by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, was approved by a vote of 143 to 4, with 11 countries abstaining. This means that genocide in a variety of forms can continue against indigenous peoples in many parts of the world. ... Canada indeed missed a historic opportunity to be part of a landmark declaration on global human rights. For shame!

"Shame on Canada for saying 'no' to global native rights!," Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, Friday Magazine, September 21, 2007, Canadian Islamic Congress,





"It's a triumph for indigenous peoples around the world. This marks a historic moment when UN Member States and indigenous peoples reconciled with their painful histories and resolved to move forward together on the path of human rights, justice and development for all."

UN Press Release, September 13, 2007

Also: Haider Rizvi, "Native Peoples Score Historic Political Victory," IPS, September 13, 2007 http://www.worldproutassembly.org/archives/2007/09/rights_native_p.html


"Today, by adopting the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples we are making further progress to improve the situation of indigenous peoples around the world. We are also taking another major step forward towards the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all."

UN Press Release, September 13, 2007


"These standards will help ensure that everyone has the same rights and that we will stop being marginalised."

- Bolivian President Evo Morales, himself an Aymara Indian. Morales called on his indigenous sisters and brothers to take part in a world summit on Oct. 10-11 to celebrate and analyse the implications and repercussions of the Declaration.

Diego Cevallos, "LATIN AMERICA: Native leaders half-heartedly embrace 'distoric' declaration," IPS, September 14, 2007.



"The 13th of September 2007 will be remembered as an international human rights day for the indigenous peoples of the world. This is magnificent endeavour which brought you (UN diplomats) to sit together with us to listen to our cries and struggles and to hammer out words which will respond to these is unprecedented." - Vicky Tauli-Corpus, chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Tauli-Corpus also raised the question of "effective implementation of the Declaration," saying it will "the test of commitment of states and the whole international community" to protect, respect and fulfill indigenous peoples collective and individual human rights. "I call on governments, the U.N. system, indigenous peoples and civil society at large to rise to the historic task before us and make the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples a living document for the common future of humanity."


"As Indigenous Peoples we now see a guarantee that our rights to self determination, to our lands and territories, to our cultural identities, to our own representation and to our values and beliefs will be respected at the international level.

"The Declaration is a framework for States to link and integrate with the Indigenous Peoples, to initiate new and positive relations but this time without exclusion, without discrimination and without exploitation."

Cited in Boyce Richardson, "Wonderful news: A Declaration establishes the Rights of Indigenous Peoples around the world," http://www.magma.ca/~brich/My%20Log%203%20frame2.html#anchor141869

"'Their inability to vote for the declaration is more a reflection on the countries than it is on the declaration itself,' said Les Malezer, chairman of the Global Indigenous Caucus. 'In this case, Canada (and the others) are finding themselves in a situation where their policies are being found out, and are showing they are not prepared to commit themselves to fair treatment of indigenous peoples in their countries.'"

Haider Rizv, "Native Peoples Renew Call for U.N. Recognition," July 18, 2007


"If a few states did not accept the declaration, then it would be a reflection on them rather than the document,' said Les Malezer, an aboriginal leader from Australia

"'It is subject to interpretation, but we can work with this,' Les Malezer, chair of the Global Indigenous Caucus, told IPS last week. Like many other indigenous leaders, Malezer, a longtime aboriginal rights activist, initially did not approve of amendments in the draft.

"'We would not have gone for the amendments," he said. 'But presented with the amended declaration, presented with the agreement made between approximately 130 states, then we have a very good result.'"

Also: Haider Rizvi, "Native Peoples Score Historic Political Victory," IPS, September 13, 2007 http://www.worldproutassembly.org/archives/2007/09/rights_native_p.html


'We are really very happy and thrilled to hear about the adoption of the declaration," said Botswana Bushman Jumanda Gakelebone of First People of the Kalahari, who works with an independent advocacy group called Survival International. "It recognises that governments can no longer treat us as second-class citizens, and it gives protection to tribal peoples so that they will not be thrown off their lands like we were.'


"It sets a benchmark by which the treatment of tribal and indigenous peoples can be judged, and we hope it will usher in an era in which abuse of their rights is no longer tolerated." - Survival International director Stephen Corry

Haider Rizv, "Native Peoples Renew Call for U.N. Recognition," July 18, 2007


Others, however, see less reason to celebrate...


"Twenty years of debate to produce this document, and we end up with a non-binding declaration that does not force governments to do anything; this is a disgrace," said Manuel Castro, spokesman for the influential Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE). "In our view, there is no significant gain, if we also take into account that we were not well-represented in the negotiations and that very few indigenous people are even aware of the existence of this document. ... There are a number of laws and agreements that talk about our rights; this is just one more that is on its way to becoming dead letter..."

Diego Cevallos, "LATIN AMERICA: Native leaders half-heartedly embrace 'distoric' declaration," IPS, September 14, 2007.



Luis Andrade, president of the National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia (ONIC), said the new instrument "is like saying yes, but no," since it is non-binding. Many governments signed the document "just for the sake of image."

Diego Cevallos, "LATIN AMERICA: Native leaders half-heartedly embrace 'distoric' declaration," IPS, September 14, 2007.



(A stride forward) "to the extent that indigenous people make use of it. ... It's nothing to jump up and down about. Erazo agrees that the Declaration has no teeth. He recommended, however, seeing it "as a weapon to be used by the people." - Elmer Erazo, spokesman for the Rigoberto Menchú Foundation which is headed by Guatemalan indigenous leader and Nobel Peace laureate Rigoberta Menchú

Diego Cevallos, "LATIN AMERICA: Native leaders half-heartedly embrace 'distoric' declaration," IPS, September 14, 2007.



"An ethical and moral reference point for indigenous peoples, but nothing more than that. It is a non-binding, very general declaration full of vague terms and tricky wording. Many governments signed it as a formality, just to get it out of the way." - José del Val, head of the Mexico Multicultural Nation University Programme (PUMC) at the Autonomous National University of Mexico and former director of the Inter-American Indigenous Institute


Many among the scientific community seem convinced that without the cooperation of indigenous peoples, there is no way to reverse the loss of biodiversity. "Nature conservation is at the heart of the cultures and values of traditional societies," according to Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the U.N. Convention on Biodiversity. "The link between biodiversity and traditional knowledge is evident.

Haider Rizvi, "RIGHTS: Native Peoples Renew Call for U.N. Recognition ," IPS, July 18, 2007. http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=38593

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