Coast Salish Territory, February 3, 2010—The British Columbia All Chief’s Task Force announced today that its Coordinated Action Working Group (CAWG) has launched an awareness campaign targeted at the national and international media attending the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympics Games to highlight Canada’s refusal to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the consequences of this decision.

“We support the spirit of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games and applaud the partnership with the Four Host First Nations. Yet while this is a great starting point, there is much work which still needs to be done after the Games to address Aboriginal human rights, poverty, missing and murdered women, and rights and title.  The first step in resolving these issues is for all Canadians to urge the Federal Government to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples– an international instrument supported by 145 countries that sets out the minimum human rights standards of Indigenous peoples worldwide,” says Chief Wayne Christian, Chair of the BC All Chief’s Coordinated Action Working Group and chief spokesperson for the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council.

First Nations leadership supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to ensure the survival, dignity and well-being for their communities, children and next generations. “The cost for Canada not to support the Declaration will be highlighted in First Nations poverty, further missing women, human rights complaints and continued land and resource disputes. By not adopting the Declaration, Canadian’s reputation as a leader in international human rights is called into question. ” says Cliff Atleo, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.

“During these difficult economic times, it makes resounding sense for Canada to adopt the UN Declaration as it supports strong Nations and vibrant families and communities, which will benefit First Nations and non-First Nations alike,” says Beverley Clifton Percival Chair, BC All Chief’s Task Force and Negotiator, Gitxsan Hereditary Chief’s.

In September 2007, the United Nations General Assembly passed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) following over 25 years of work.  Overwhelming support was demonstrated with 144 countries voting in favour of the declaration. This monumental adoption affirms the minimum standards required for the “survival, dignity, and well-being of indigenous people of the world.”The UNDRIP recognizes the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples including fundamental human rights for First Nations such as inherent rights to traditional lands and territories, self-determination, and unqualified recognition of First Nations peoples, cultures, languages, and identities.

However, Canada is one of only four nations to have voted against the UNDRIP.  Australia has since decided to support the UNDRIP, and the United States and New Zealand are currently reviewing their position.  Canada’s House of Commons passed a motion on April 8, 2008 endorsing the UNDRIP and calling upon Parliament and the Government of Canada to “fully implement the standards contained therein”; however, Canada has yet to sign on.

First Nations are continuing to demonstrate the need for Canada to adopt this UNDRIP as it will profoundly benefit First Nations and non-First Nations alike.

19th Annual Women’s Memorial March

The CAWG Chair, Chief Wayne Christian, has issued a call to action to Indigenous and non‐Indigenous peoples worldwide to support the families of the murdered and missing women by: joining in on the 19th Annual Memorial March  on February 14th, 2010 if possible; circulating information about the Women’s Memorial March to their social networks; and that those unable to join the Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver organize a support march in their respective communities to coincide with the Memorial March in Vancouver, to demonstrate support for the families of the murdered and missing women and to demand that Canada hold a public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women in BC and across Canada.

Find additional information on the Women’s Memorial March at http://womensmemorialmarch.wordpress.com/

About the British Columbia All Chief’s Task Force

At the All-Chiefs’ Assembly on Recognition and Reconciliation held on August 25-28, 2009, a First Nations Task Force, composed of volunteer First Nation leaders from across the province, was established to build upon the outcomes and energy of the gathering by drafting and implementing a short-term action plan  to communicate the urgency and importance of raising awareness and recognition of Aboriginal title and rights at the provincial, national and international levels, as well as with the general public  The All Chief’s Task Force will also strive to increase efficiency by better organizing First Nations in British Columbia by working together on issues of common concern.  A working group of the Task Force – the Coordinated Action Working Group (CAWG) – was struck develop and implement a coordinated action strategy to raise awareness of First Nations issues.

Find additional information and news about the All Chief’s Task Force at https://firstnationstaskforce.wordpress.com

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