Honourable Murray Rankin
Honourable Mike Farnworth
Honourable Marc Miller
Honourable David Eby
Honourable David Lametti
Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino
Open Letter: UBCIC Resolution 2022-13 “Ending the Criminalization and Human Rights Violations of Indigenous Land Defenders”
We are writing with respect to Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) Resolution 2022-13 “Ending the Criminalization and Human Rights Violations of Indigenous Land Defenders” which was presented, affirmed, and endorsed by consensus at the UBCIC Chiefs Council on February 24, 2022 (enclosed).
In B.C. and Canada, Indigenous land defenders have been criminalized and subject to harassment, violence, discrimination, intimidation, surveillance, and forceful land dispossession that constitute a severe breach in the human rights standards entrenched in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People as well as constitutional law. Recognizing this, The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) issued its December 13, 2019, Decision 1(100) under the Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure to express concern about the large-scale projects in Canada that were threatening the safety and freedom of peaceful land defenders. CERD called upon Canada to take several actions to comply with the obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Consequently, by Resolution 2022-13, the UBCIC Chiefs Council urges your governments to address the human rights violations and criminalization of Indigenous land defenders, including fulfilling your international law obligations and complying with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and other United Nations directives regarding the safety and freedom of peaceful land defenders. Furthermore, the UBCIC Chiefs Council calls upon the Governments of British Columbia and Canada to address critical concerns and priorities around the criminalization and illegal surveillance of Indigenous land defenders, and to develop effective remedies regarding human rights violations and gender-based violence. These remedies must include providing Indigenous land defenders and impacted First Nation communities unimpeded access to comprehensive financial supports and resources, as well as deleting any Canada Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) files that are being held on Indigenous land defenders.
We look forward to your response.
On behalf of the UNION OF BC INDIAN CHIEFS
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
Chief Don Tom
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson
CC: UBCIC Chiefs Council
Premier John Horgan
Encl: UBCIC Resolution 2022-13