UBCIC Rejects Canada150 Celebrations

JUNE 28TH-29TH, 2017

Resolution no. 2017-32

RE: UBCIC Rejects Canada150 Celebrations

WHEREAS we were placed upon our territories by the Creator. As Indigenous Peoples, our identity is defined by our connections to our territories, to each other, to our neighbouring nations, and to the other life we share our living world with. We are the original people of this land. We have the human right to survive as distinct Peoples, contributing to the global fabric of Nations into the future (Excerpts from UBCIC Aboriginal Title and Rights and Treaty Rights Position Paper, original 1978, revised and endorsed 2014);

WHEREAS the Government of Canada is celebrating “Canada150” throughout the year 2017, contributing significant financial resources, in the amount of $500 million, in an exercise in patriotism coming to a peak on July 1, 2017;

WHEREAS Canada remains non-compliant with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Ruling (CHRT) that found Canada to be illegally discriminating against First Nations children and families. Canada continues to critically underfund First Nations education and other issues impacting Indigenous peoples across Canada;

WHEREAS the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Canada has endorsed without qualification, states:

Article 5: Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State;
Article 8: Indigenous peoples have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture; and

WHEREAS the statement below was discussed as a part of a panel entitled “Colonization150” at the UBCIC Chiefs Council, June 28-29, 2017:

“Canada150” is not representative of the history of our lands and territories, or of our present realities as Indigenous Peoples. We, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), cannot, in all good conscience, participate in, and will not celebrate, the federal government’s colonial notions of our Indigenous histories. A history which reflects 150 years of genocidal policies in an attempt to eradicate our cultural, spiritual, and political systems, alongside our universal fundamental human rights to exist as Indigenous Peoples. We invite and encourage all Canadians to recognize, celebrate and uphold unromanticized Indigenous’ histories, and the continual sovereignty of our Nations while participating in “Canada150” events.

Indigenous Peoples’ Aboriginal Title to the Lands and Resources and our Right of Self-Determination remains strong and unbroken, and has never been addressed through any agreement with Canada. A process of decolonization is required to reverse the impact of assimilation policies aimed at destroying our cultures, spiritualities, histories, languages, laws and systems of governance. Decolonization does not masquerade as a celebration of colonization that is ongoing today and continues to perpetuate cultural genocide. Decolonization will involve a fierce struggle by Indigenous Peoples to reinvigorate our own laws and systems of governance, and ignite within our own Peoples hope and vision for our tomorrows with the recognition and knowledge of our true place among the Nations of the world.

Canada’s sovereignty is conditional upon Canada protecting Crown obligations to Indigenous Nations. Any Crown title or jurisdiction that Canada or the Province assert remains subject to unextinguished Aboriginal Title and Rights, and further subject to the terms – yet to be fully realized – of Nation-to-Nation treaties made with Indigenous Peoples.

Canada must shift its exclusionary idea of sovereignty and federalism to one that is inclusive of Indigenous legal orders, Title and Rights, and Treaty Rights. Justice can only be achieved when Canada truly and meaningfully recognizes that Indigenous Nations form one of the historic and enduring levels of governance within this country.

We will not participate in “Canada150.” We will continue our work towards collectively forging a new path forward in the spirit of our undeniable inherent Right to Self-Determination and Sovereignty, built upon the solid foundation of the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Aboriginal Title and Rights, and Treaty Rights, as recognized and affirmed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the UBCIC Chiefs Council fully supports the above statement concerning UBCIC’s rejection of the “Canada150” celebrations;

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the UBCIC Chiefs Council encourages all First Nations to share this statement with their appointed local, provincial and federal governments; and

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED the UBCIC Chiefs Council directs the UBCIC Executive to issue the above statements to the BC Provincial and Federal governments and reject the “Canada150” celebrations.

Moved: Chief Wayne Christian, Splats’in First Nation
Seconded: Chief Harvey McLeod, Upper Nicola Band
Disposition: Carried, 6 Abstentions
Date: June 29, 2017

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