First Nations ready to implement the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

MEDIA ADVISORY - February 18, 2008
(Coast Salish Traditional Territory/Vancouver, BC) – First Nations leaders and international experts will gather in North Vancouver this week to examine ways First Nations can implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People at a two-day symposium entitled: “Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of the world.” The symposium will allow First Nations to examine ways they can move ahead with the UN Declaration in Canada, despite the federal government’s recent rejection.

The UN Declaration was adopted by the United Nations in September, 2007 despite opposition from Canada, New Zealand, the United States and Australia. Since then, the Labor Party, newly-elected as the government in Australia, has pledged to endorse the Declaration. Likewise, all opposition parties in Canada have urged the federal government to change its position and support the Declaration. Canada was actively involved in developing the UN Declaration for twenty years, but suddenly shifted its position, and began opposing the Declaration in 2006, after the election of a new government.

Highlights of the conference will include:

• Feb. 19th - 9:15 am: Opening remarks
• Feb. 19th and 20th - 12:30 pm: Media availability with AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine and Grand Chief Edward John of the First Nations Summit and First Nations Leadership Council.
• Feb. 19th - 2:00 pm: Indigenous Peoples, the Declaration and the United Nations. International experts discuss how United Nations human rights mechanisms can be used to promote the Declaration.
• February 20th - 9:15 am: The Declaration and Canadian Law. International law experts analyze Canada’s recent arguments against the declaration and actions in international bodies.

The two-day event is open to all media. The full agenda is available online at: www.afn.ca or www.fns.bc.ca.

When: February 19-20 2008 (9:00 am – 5:00 pm)
Where: Chief Joe Mathias Centre
100 Capilano Road
North Vancouver BC
Who: Co-hosted by the British Columbia First Nations Leadership Council and the AFN

Media contacts:

Colin Braker, Communications Director, First Nations Summit
Cell: 604.328.4094, e-mail: CBraker@fns.bc.ca  

Karyn Pugliese, AFN Communications,
Cell: 613-293-6106, e-mail: kpugliese@afn.ca  

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The First Nations Leadership Council is comprised of the political executives of the BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. The Council works together to politically represent the interests of First Nations in British Columbia and develop strategies and actions to bring about significant and substantive changes to government policy that will benefit all First Nations in British Columbia.

UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.