Once again, Canada has sparked outrage among its Aboriginal population, this time for using the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples “as an opportunity to continue its unprincipled attack on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).” At the conference, an outcome document was produced calling on countries to “take appropriate measures at the national level…to achieve the ends of the UNDRIP” and affirming that “decisions potentially affecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples should be undertaken only with their Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC).” Canada was the only country to raise objections to the outcome document, insisting that it cannot “commit to uphold provisions in the UNDRIP that deal with FPIC if these provisions were ‘interpreted as a veto.’” Canada’s behavior at the conference was condemned by the Assembly of First Nations and other Aboriginal leaders across the country. According to Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees, “the right of FPIC is crucial to us…The government has never explained what it means by ‘veto.’ Is a ‘veto’ absolute? If so, then a ‘veto’ isn’t the same thing as ‘consent.’”
It is unclear why Canada continues to backslide on an issue that is so crucial to its economic agenda. While Canada is certainly not the only country failing to uphold its commitments to UNDRIP, it has positioned itself as the document’s most vocal opponent, perpetuating the tensions that threaten to paralyze its natural resource future.
Sources: Union of BC Indian Chiefs
This post is excerpted from First Peoples Worldwide’s Corporate Monitor, a monthly report on key trends affecting companies interacting with Indigenous Peoples. To sign up for monthly e-mail updates, click here.