Genuine partnerships still needed on 10th anniversary of Indigenous declaration
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VANCOUVER — First Nations in British Columbia are marking the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples saying they are optimistic but still awaiting genuine partnerships with senior governments.
The First Nations Summit, which speaks on behalf of nations involved in treaty negotiations in B.C., says it is buoyed by a shift in leadership at the federal level and commitments of the province's new NDP government to implement the declaration.
But it also says the most successful route to positive change is through full collaboration with Indigenous Peoples.
The summit says in a news release that full implementation requires unwavering commitment from the federal and provincial bureaucracies.
New Democrat Premier John Horgan calls the anniversary a pivotal moment in B.C.'s history and says the UN declaration offers a path toward meaningful reconciliation with First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples, and a true government-to-government relationship.
Horgan says his administration is prepared to embrace and implement the declaration "in full partnership with Indigenous Peoples."
"Our government understands the enormous responsibility we have to Indigenous Peoples, in the face of historical wrongs that have never been made right and in the wake of inaction by government after government," Horgan says in a news release.
Leaders of the First Nations Summit say the last 150 years have been a time of "cultural genocide" in Canada and survival of Indigenous communities requires "urgent and swift action."
"In August 2017, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged Canada to adopt a legislative framework and national action plan to implement the declaration," summit leaders, including Grand Chief Edward John, say in their news release.
They say legislation to underpin the declaration will ensure progress while protecting Indigenous human rights.