Canada’s Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett said on Monday, will drop its objector status against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [text, PDF]. The minister made the announcement [CBC News report] at the UN with a delegation of leaders from “he Assembly of First Nations, Native Women’s Association of Canada, Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and elders and youth. The declaration’s objective is to protect the rights of indigenous peoples with a focus on their right to practice their own cultures, customs, and develop their own economic, political and social institutions. Merrell-Ann Phare, executive director of a Winnipeg-based organization that promotes sustainable First Nations communities, stated [Globe and Mail report] that the declaration clarifies that governments and indigenous peoples must “negotiate mutually satisfactory resolutions to conflicts.” The declaration is not legally binding and many were frustrated with the lack of specific details in the announcement.
The rights of indigenous peoples have become a pressing international legal topic in the past decade. In April JURIST Guest Columnist Dwight Newman of the University of Saskatchewan discussed [JURIST op-ed] what is happening with recent leave decisions related to Indigenous rights and Canadian energy regulation. In March Canadian indigenous people, including Inuits of Nunavut and the Chippewa, were granted [JURIST report] an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, challenging the use of seismic testing to find natural gas under the Davis Strait and Baffin Bay. In February experts from the UN and the Inter-American human rights systems urged [JURIST report] Canada to address the “root causes” of the extreme violence and discrimination against indigenous women and girls in that country.