Indigenous rights bill has support of Manitoba aboriginal leaders

Churchill Keewatinook-Aski MP Niki Ashton and the leaders of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) have expressed their support for NDP MP Romeo Saganash’s private member’s bill in support of indigenous rights.

Saganash tabled legislation to ensure that the laws of Canada respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) April 21. Canada endorsed the declaration in 2010. The bill, which was seconded by Ashton, is the second Saganash has tabled. The previous one, introduced prior to the election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government last October, was fully endorsed by the NDP and Liberal and Green MPs also voted in favour.

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“Right now we’re seeing the unacceptable consequences of governments ignoring the rights of indigenous peoples,” said Saganash in a press release. “From the underfunding of child welfare, to the lack of mental health supports, to the slow progress of treaty and land claims – these are the outcomes when indigenous rights are not respected.”

“Honoured to second
@RomeoSaganash bill to harmonize Cdn laws w/ UN Dec on the Rights of Indigenous Ppls #TRC,” Ashton said on her Twitter account.

The AMC issued a press release April 25 after AMC Grand Chief Derek Nepinak met with Saganash to dicusss the bill.

“On UNDRIP, the AMC Chiefs-in-Assembly have been clear,” said Nepinak. “In 2008, they supported UNDRIP, calling on Canada to adopt it. Accordingly, AMC supports Bill C-262 and the work done by Mr. Saganash. The tireless efforts of MP Saganash and other First Nation leaders, including AFN [Assembly of First Nations], in the development of UNDRIP requires all First Nations to consider endorsing and supporting Bill C-262. The bill is clear and concise, unequivocal in carrying out what our First Nations leaders, international NGOs [non-governmental organzations] and United Nations member states agreed upon when UNDRIP was passed by the UN General Assembly in 2007. Strong support of Bill C-262 must necessarily come with a caution that Canada wants to create a ‘Canadian definition’ of UNDRIP. The support by the AMC Chiefs-in-Assembly did not include a caveat to re-interpret or weaken it.”

MKO Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson said on Twitter that she would support the bill, which would go far to right many wrongs for indigenous people.

Saganash was in Winnipeg April 26 for a public information event and plans to hold one in Churchill in August, though a date has yet to be determined.

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