AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Marks International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and the 10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration

Ottawa, ON-To mark the United Nations International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde expressed his commitment and his solidarity with Indigenous peoples worldwide to realize Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“Today, First Nations stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples everywhere to revitalize and restore our collective rights as peoples and to support one another in that goal,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “This is a day for all governments to recommit to work with us to fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration affirms Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and sets out minimum standards for their survival, dignity and well-being. Implementing the UN Declaration will promote peace and help close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canadians. Canada has stated its unqualified support for the UN Declaration and, as we approach the 10th anniversary of its adoption by the UN General Assembly, it is time to work together to give life to the Declaration in Canada and around the world.”

The AFN is mandated to support and advocate for First Nations in international human rights bodies. The AFN recently submitted a report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which highlighted key priorities and concerns including:

  • ●the urgent need for measures to address diverse forms of racial discrimination impacting Indigenous peoples in Canada;

  • ●co-development by Canada and Indigenous peoples of Indigenous languages legislation to support Indigenous peoples work to revitalize the original languages of this land;

  • ●co-development of federal legislation to support the full implementation of the UN Declaration, and;

  • ●investments to ensure all First Nations can access essential government services such as potable water, health, emergency services, education and community infrastructure.

In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 49/214 establishing August 9 as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The date marks the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1982. The UN Working Group played a critical role in launching the development of the UN Declaration as a joint endeavor of Indigenous peoples in partnership with the member States of the United Nations.

The theme for this year is the 10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007. Canada is now part of several consensus resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly respecting the UN Declaration and has expressed unqualified support for its full implementation.