Coast Salish Territory, February 22, 2010: The BC All Chiefs’ Task Force has launched a campaign challenging the Federal Government to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Canadians are being asked to forward a letter expressing their concern about Canada’s refusal to sign the Declaration.

The UNDRIP intends to recognize 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 Declaration. Overwhelming support was demonstrated with 143 states voting in favour of the declaration. 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 UN DRIP and calling upon Parliament and the Government of Canada to “fully implement the standards contained therein;” however, the Harper Government has refused to sign on.

“The UNDRIP outlines the internationally adopted minimal standards of human rights of Indigenous Peoples which will support strong First Nations governments, economies, families and communities, and ultimately benefit all Canadians. The Declaration is a statement of the principles that should guide our relationship. It provides a way to measure our progress. It is time that we all embrace the Declaration and act on its principles,” says Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo.

“By adopting the UNDRIP Canada will affirm the basic standards required for the survival, dignity, and well-being of First Nation peoples. We encourage all Canadian’s, who are viewed internationally as the defender of human rights, to speak out about the Canadian Government not adopting the UNDRIP,” says Chief Wayne Christian, spokesperson for the B.C. All Chiefs’ Task Force.“

“The cost for Canada to not support the Declaration will be highlighted in First Nations poverty, further missing women, education disparities, and continued land and resource disputes. It makes resounding sense for Canada to adopt the UNDRIP—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 Chiefs’ Task Force.

The All Chief’s Task Force has embarked on a province-wide letter writing and post card campaign and encourages other organizations to do the same. This week postcards will be delivered to over 5,000 homes in the Vancouver area, including the B.C Premier’s home riding asking residents to contact the Prime Minister’s office and encourage him to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Post Cards can be downloaded at https://firstnationstaskforce.wordpress.com/.

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