UN Urged To Declare Canada’s Treatment Of Aboriginals ‘Genocide’

Cree students at the Anglican-run Lac La Ronge Mission School in Saskatchewan in 1945. (Archives and Library of Canada)
Cree students at the Anglican-run Lac La Ronge Mission School in Saskatchewan in 1945. (Archives and Library of Canada)


By Michael Bolen, The Huffington Post, Canada

A fresh campaign is underway to push the United Nations to label Canada’s treatment of First Nations people “genocide.”

On Monday, former National Chief Phil Fontaine, elder Fred Kelly, businessman Dr. Michael Dan and human rights activist Bernie Farber sent a letter to James Anaya, UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, arguing that several specific crimes against aboriginal people in Canada qualify as genocide under the post-Second World War Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG)

Article 2 of the Convention states that “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”


The letter writers assert that at least three actions on the part of Canadian governments constitute genocide under those rules.

1. Sir John A. MacDonald’s policy of deliberately starving First Nations people to make way for settlers in the Canadian west.

2. The residential school system and especially the decision of Department of Indian Affairs chief Duncan Campbell Scott not to address rampant tuberculosis among students.

3. The forcible removal of aboriginal children from their homes for the purpose of adoption by white families, a practice known as the “Sixties Scoop.” Estimates put the number of children removed between the 1960s and the mid 1980s at around 20,000.

Farber and Dan have previously argued that the recently revealed nutrition experiments performed on children at residential schools also qualify as genocide.

The genocide argument has been criticized by Sun News pundit Ezra Levant, who wrote this summer that “Canada does not and never has had a policy of exterminating Indians. Genocides don’t normally include billions of dollars a year in government grants to the group in question, affirmative action hiring quotas, land reserves and other privileges.”

Levant accuses Dan of hiring Faber to curry favour with First Nations people so his Gemini Power Corp. can get permission to build power plants on reserves.

Farber told HuffPost Canada in an email that Levant’s characterization is inaccurate.

“Ezra, as usual, gets it wrong.”

The letter from Farber and company was sent as special rapporteur Anaya concluded a visit to Canada. He said Canada faces a “crisis” regarding its indigenous people and called for an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

The Conservative government pledged to renew efforts to address the issue of murdered and missing aboriginal women in its throne speech Wednesday.

Earlier this year, former prime minister Paul Martin referred to residential schools as “cultural genocide.” In 2012, Justice Murray Sinclair, the chairman of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said the removal of children from their homes to residential schools was an act of genocide, but that it didn’t necessarily qualify under the UN Convention.

There have only ever been two successful prosecutions under the Genocide Convention, former Rwandan prime minister Jean Kambanda and ex-mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu for crimes during the 1994 slaughter in that country. The UN’s highest court cleared the government of Serbia of genocide charges in 2007, but found it breached international law in failing to stop the killing and by not handing over officials accused of war crimes.

The push for action from the UN comes amid renewed violence between authorities and aboriginal peoples. On Thursday, police cars were torched during an attempt by the RCMP to enforce an injunction to end a demonstration against shale gas exploration in eastern New Brunswick. The Mounties said at least 40 people were arrested

The violence has sparked a renewal of the cross-country protests seen during the Idle No More movement last winter.

With files from The Canadian Press


Coalition for Prisoners’ Rights Addresses UN Human Rights Committee


The United Nations Human Rights Committee recently heard about the violations of indigenous prisoners’ religious freedoms at the hands of the United States throughout the country.

Huy, a Saettle, Washington based non-profit formed in 2012 to reform state policy in regard to Native prisoners’ Indian religious freedoms and cultural expression, was joined by the National Congress of American Indians, Native American Rights Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union in presenting their information to the U.N.

Related: Huy: Washington State Non-Profit to Improve Indian Prisoner Ceremonies

Kate Fox Principi, secretary of the Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland heard the coalition’s concerns, which came in the form of an update to a previously submitted 15-page report, titled “Joint Submission to Human Rights Committee Concerning Indigenous Prisoners’ Religious Freedoms in the United States of America.”

“This update, as with the original report, concerns the United States’ violations of indigenous prisoners’ religious freedoms and the United States’ failure to fully implement the ICCPR on state and local levels, in particular response to paragraphs 1(b), 4, 16, and 27 of the Human Rights Committee’s list of issues concerning the United States, for the 110th Session. The Human Rights Committee’s review of the United States’ human rights record was scheduled to occur last October during the 109th Session, but was postponed due to the United States government shutdown last fall,” according to a Huy press release.

All the information presented through the update and the report address the treatment and violations occurring in California, Montana, Hawaii, Arizona, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming and Missouri.

“The religious and human rights violations being committed by state and county corrections agencies against indigenous prisoners remain prevalent,” said initial Chairman of the Huy Board Advisors, Gabriel Galanda, Round Valley, a tribal lawyer with Galanda Broadman, PLLC in Seattle. “International intervention is now needed to bring the U.S. and its state and local siblings into universal compliance with American federal law and worlwide human rights norms.”

The indigenous prisoners’ religious rights coalition is altogether comprised of:

— Huy


— Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians

— Round Valley Indian Tribes

— National Native American Bar Association

— Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program

— Native American Rights Fund

— Center for Indian Law and Policy at the Seattle University School of Law

— The National ACLU

— The ACLU of Washington

— The ACLU of Southern California


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/02/18/coalition-prisoners-rights-addresses-un-human-rights-committee-153608?page=0%2C1


Resolving grievances: Eliminating violence against indigenous nations

June 11, 2013 - S. James Anaya, speaking at the WCIP Global Preparatory Meeting in Alta, Norway. (Photo: Ben Powless, Global Coordinating Group Media Team)
June 11, 2013 – S. James Anaya, speaking at the WCIP Global Preparatory Meeting in Alta, Norway. (Photo: Ben Powless, Global Coordinating Group Media Team)

Jay Taber, Intercontinental Cry

While consultations between indigenous nations and modern states worldwide — mostly over resource extraction and development proposals — are in the news, little has been said about conditions for consultations. Since states and corporations are seeking to lend the appearance of meeting the free, prior and informed consent standard set by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it might seem reasonable that indigenous nations place conditions on how these consultations are conducted.

In Peru, indigenous peoples recently withdrew from a consultation until the state addressed longstanding items of neglect, the logic being that if the state cannot resolve existing grievances over health, education and the environment, then why should indigenous nations meet to discuss allowing corporations additional access to resources in their territories. One of the indigenous proposals in Peru is to establish state institutions designed to interact inclusively with indigenous nations, so that grievances and proposals can be discussed and resolved.

In the follow-up to the international conference of indigenous nations in Alta, Norway last week, Quinault Indian Nation president Fawn Sharp called for a similar protocol at the UN, in which indigenous nations would have a seat at the table. As Sharp noted, “Indigenous nations and each U.N. member now have clearly focused issues on which to base government-to-government negotiations. These negotiations can help eliminate violence against indigenous nations caused by rampant development which pollute lands and waters and force Indigenous Peoples out of their territories.”

As Quinault and 71 other American Indian nations proposed at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in May, indigenous governments must have a dignified and appropriate status at the UN in order to end violation of indigenous rights by its member states. Until indigenous nations are fully participating members of the UN, violations and violence inflicted on indigenous communities will likely continue to increase. As the 72 nations stated, “Without effective implementing measures and without international monitoring of indigenous peoples’ rights, the purposes of the Declaration cannot be achieved.”

As indigenous nations and modern states seek a path to establishing constructive solutions to long festering conflicts, national and international institutions will need to be invented and reinvented. With the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples scheduled for September 2014, it is perhaps not too soon to begin.