Protect the Rights of Indigenous People

Romeo Saganash by Matt Jiggins

Target: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Goal: Protect indigenous rights under Canadian law.

Indigenous rights could be codified in Canadian law if a bill that has been presented to parliament passes. Before the Canadian elections last Fall, Justin Trudeau stated that, if elected, he and his party would work to uphold the rights of First Nation, Inuit and Metis people in Canada. He now has a chance to prove that he is serious.

The private member bill, presented by Canadian member of parliament, indigenous rights activist, and residential school survivor Romeo Saganash, would make the framework outlined in the U.N. declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) a part of Canadian law. While the government of Canada endorsed UNDRIP in 2010, the endorsement also made it clear that UNDRIP would have no effect on Canadian laws.  

Barely a generation after the last residential school closed, the rights of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples in Canada have been threatened by government policies and institutionalized violence. Often violations take the form of the police brutality suffered by many communities and attempts to undermine land rights in favor of the mineral rights for mining or energy corporations.

While First Nations, Inuit and Metis people are four percent of Canada’s population, people from those groups make up almost a quarter of incarcerated persons in Canada. There has also been a systemic culture of inaction which has allowed many communities to lose basic infrastructure such as high schools and other necessary services, and a lack of proper investigations into crimes against First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.

Including the UNDRIP framework in Canadian law will make it clear that the Canadian government is committed to upholding the rights of indigenous peoples. Sign our petition and ask Prime Minister Trudeau to support the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

During the 2015 election campaign, the Liberal Party made promises to uphold the rights of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. With that in mind I urge you to support the bill presented by Romeo Saganash, a long time advocate for the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples and indigenous peoples around the world. This bill is also supported by former Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chairman, and current Senator, Murray Sinclair.  

Aboriginal communities across Canada are in crisis as exemplified by the situation in Attawapiskat. While this crisis has roots beginning at the start of Canadian history, I believe that it is also a production of more recent inaction to sustain the quality of living of aboriginal communities.

Years of neglect and under-funding has led to a lack of infrastructure and opportunity for many communities while high rates of incarceration have left communities further impoverished and lacking resources. Many communities are being forced to choose between short term economic gain and long term environmental degradation, a choice that becomes akin to extortion when you have no other options.

I believe that codifying the rights of First Nation, Inuit and Metis in Canadian law would be a step in the direction of upholding Canada’s obligation to indigenous peoples, and urge you to support the bill.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Matt Jigins

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