August 9th marks International Indigenous Peoples Day, the anniversary of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1982.
The theme of this year’s World Indigenous Peoples Day is the 10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Union of BC Indian Chiefs celebrates the achievements and fortitude of Indigenous peoples worldwide. Indigenous peoples continue to lead the global fight for the protection of our lands, territories, and the environment for future generations.
The UBCIC remains frustrated that, despite the adoption of the Declaration in 2007, Canada has yet to make significant and tangible progress, politically and at the community level, on the implementation of Indigenous Title and Rights, as affirmed in the Declaration. The Declaration affirms the inherent collective human rights of Indigenous peoples, including the right to self-government, and the individual rights of Indigenous women, men, and children.
The rights affirmed within the Declaration constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of Indigenous peoples worldwide. Self-determination is fundamental to the rights affirmed in the Declaration and like all inherent rights, cannot be given or taken away by any governments’ action or inaction.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC, stated, “A decade is too long to wait for real action on the implementation of the Declaration. If these are the internationally recognized minimum standards to ensure our human rights as Indigenous peoples, why are we seeing only empty promises from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?”
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the UBCIC, commented, “Next week I will be in Geneva at the United Nations, presenting to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This is Canada’s report card to the world, and we Indigenous peoples won’t let them get away with the rhetoric we continue to hear at home.”
Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President of the UBCIC, remarked, “We have an opportunity in Canada to be the world leader in human rights that we purport to be. Respecting Indigenous peoples’ rights, domestically and internationally, is a moral and legal imperative.”