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ONTARIO REGIONAL CHIEF ISADORE DAY LOOKS FORWARD TO WORKING WITH CANADA ON FULL ENGAGEMENT AND PARTNERSHIP IN IMPLEMENTING THE UNITED NATIONS DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES (UNDRIP)

TORONTO (May 10, 2016) --- Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day calls Canada’s full adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples a landmark decision and a clear signal that will light the way towards further reconciliation and strengthening the nation to nation relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples.

“This is a turning point in our relationship and the recognition of our rights but I must point out that we are only regaining what we had previous control of; our right to the lands, territories and resources which we have traditionally owned and occupied since recorded time,” said Ontario Regional Chief Day. “I am hopeful that the adoption of UNDRIP will help end a dark Canadian legacy where Indigenous Peoples were forbidden to participate in any decision-making that affected our land, our rights and our future.

“This is a significant step along the path of reconciliation where we will have the right to full engagement and the inherent and indisputable right to say ‘No More’. At the same time, UNDRIP, just like the mandates letters to the federal Cabinet Ministers, are just words on paper. Canada must follow through with significant funding to finally address the poverty and despair in far too many of our communities. We can’t wait five more years until the $8.4 billion rolls out to our communities. This is the reason why UNDRIP was first drafted a decade ago – to ensure Indigenous peoples are able to escape the colonial chains of poverty.”

Today, Canada officially announced that it will remove its permanent objector status and adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The declaration — first adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007 — recognizes Indigenous People's basic human rights, as well as right to self-determination, language, equality and land, among others. More than 140 nations passed the UN declaration, but Canada — which had been involved in drafting it, was one of four countries — the others being Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. — that voted against the declaration when it was passed.

Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, said Tuesday that embracing the declaration will help close the gaps on health, education, and economic outcomes.

UNDRIP is an international declaration that is built on a premise of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) which states that Indigenous Peoples not only have the right to participate in decision making but have the right to a final say in matters that affect their lives, lands and communities.

“UNDRIP is the international Indigenous equivalent of the Chiefs of Ontario We Are The Land Declaration,” said Ontario Regional Chief Day. “We Are The Land Declaration states that ‘We have the right to decide our own forms of government, to use our own laws to raise and educate our children, and to have our own cultural identity without interference. We also maintain our inalienable rights to our lands, territories, and resources. We have never surrendered our rights to either Canada or Ontario.’ Canada has never been terra nullius as Indigenous Peoples have always been here and therefore the doctrine of discovery has no place in Canada. In order to uphold UNDRIP, Canada must review all legislation, policies and regulations and remove all direct and indirect references that derive from the doctrine.”

The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada. Follow Chiefs of Ontario on Facebook or Twitter @ChiefsOfOntario

For more info, please contact: Jamie Monastyrski, Communications: 807-630-7087 jamie.monastyrski@coo.org