Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Canada still holding out on aboriginal treaty

It's been some time since the UN Convention on Aboriginal Persons was signed. With Australia and New Zealand ratifying earlier this year, there are now only two holdouts. One is the United States. The other -- surprise! -- is Canada.

The spurious claim by Team Harper is -- well, actually, they have no comment. The suggestion that the reason for the official reticence is because some Latin American countries have had their land claims processes thrown up in the air as natives have asserted their aboriginal title; and ratification could screw things up here.

But the fact is our land claims system in Canada is a complete joke to begin with. There is no will to streamline or amend the process and if that's bad enough, the fact that there is no mechanism to ratify the treaty so long as it's not tabled before Parliament -- and only the ruling party can do that -- makes it that much worse.

Racism? I might not go that far. Fear? Yeah, there's plenty of that.

Just sign the treaty, damn it. It's way past time that our aboriginal peoples stopped being wards of the state and started being full citizens which in the end is what this is all about.

Besides which, we have much to learn about living with the land from the real founders of this country. For one thing, if it was Aboriginals mining the tar sands and not the white oil companies we wouldn't be seeing the wanton destruction of the forests which belong to all of us and which help absorb the very pollution that's destroying Alberta as much as smog started killing those of us in the St. Lawrence Basin decades ago.

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6 comments:

Jennifer Smith said...

I remember John Ralston Saul talking about how many great Aboriginal leaders in this country have wasted decades of their lives going up against the land claims process. Imagine how much better this country would be if they were freed from this Sisyphean task so they could just be leaders - for all of us.

Anonymous said...

What's the definition of "aboriginal?" How would this apply to Britain, Europe, Palestine/Israel, Northern Ireland, Siberia, Tibet, Northern India, Western China?

austin said...

First off the U.N. can mind it's damn business, this is Canada and we can solve our own problems. Yes the land claims system is a joke in this country but aboriginals can share in the blame. The land claim going on in Caledonia by the Six Nations reserve should never have gone this far it was ruled on 5 different occasions and every single time it was proven that Six Nations has no right to that land but they just keep on going terrorizing a comunity. What is the point of having a land claims system if one side wont except the facts.

"For one thing, if it was Aboriginals mining the tar sands and not the white oil companies we wouldn't be seeing the wanton destruction of the forests which belong to all of us and which help absorb the very pollution that's destroying Alberta as much as smog started killing those of us in the St. Lawrence Basin decades ago."

Really? How about the massive over fishing and over hunting that takes place on a lot of reservation. We have laws and regulations that are in place to help sustain the wild life for ALL Canadians.

Alison said...

some Latin American countries have had their land claims processes thrown up in the air as natives have asserted their aboriginal title

Two Canadian mining companies, BFC Construction and Agra-Monenco,
received $18-million from Export Development Canada to build a dam in Colombia which submerged over 7,400 hectares of old-growth forest and the homes of 411 indigenous families without individual legal land titles. 2,800 people were forcibly resettled and the livelihood of a further 70,000 indigenous people were impacted. When they resisted, six were were killed and more were disappeared by paramilitaries.

Canada does not sign the UN Convention on Aboriginal Persons because Canada is protecting Canadian mining companies' human right violations abroad.

Another reason not to support the Colombia-Canada FTA.

BlastFurnace said...

Jennifer: Totally agree.

Anon: There are some native communities in various parts of Europe -- such as the Sami in Norway, Sweden and Finland and parts of Russia. It's a bit harder to define the term for the British Isles unless one could prove a lineage to before the Norman Conquest (although I'm just guessing there). Palestine / Israel: Probably the Bedouins. Western China: The Uyghurs which the Beijing government is systematically trying to exterminate. Tibet: Tibetans, ditto for Beijing. The others, I'm not sure.

Austin: Canada could always ratify the treaty but register "reservations" opting out of specific clauses, although that too would be bad optics. As far as Six Nations goes, it's gone way too far and should go to binding arbitration -- I've noted before the elected council has 27 oustanding land claims and at the rate they're processed it won't be resolved until 2064. Do some natives take more than they give back? Sure, but that's true of all of us.

Alison: If we won't abide by the same rules we require mining companies to abide by here, then we shouldn't do business overseas at all. There are some resources we simply don't have, but that's no excuse to give the corporate greedsters effective immunity. There have been mining disasters where everyone survived -- because it was in Canada. Like that would happen in Latin America under similar circumstances.

CMax said...

Canada was made on the treaties, its bittersweet to those who only want their way. If native people were not tucked away so that europeans could enjoy the fruits of the land.... moreover being unmolested by savages, yeah right! Get a history lesson and you wouldn't be bellie-aching about half truths. Native do not own the land anyways, title is vested in the crown! Treaties are about exchange, seems to be all that has been one-sided. If natives are allowed to subsist on wild game, that seems so minor, to what has been taken fron this country. I guess there will be no satisfaction until you rape the people all over again. This country is filled with bigots, and surely we are not in short supply, and that my friend is canada!