Defenders of the Land & Idle No More Networks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
INDIGENOUS REPRESENTATIVES HEAD TO UN COMMITTEE IN GENEVA

(AUGUST 11, 2017) After working to unsettle Canada at home, Indigenous Nations are in Geneva,
Switzerland to provide information to the Expert members of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination (CERD) on the racism experienced on a daily basis by Indigenous Peoples. The
representatives from various Indigenous Nations, the Defenders of the Land and Idle No More and their
European allies are in Geneva, for the CERD meetings on August 14 and 15th , 2017 when CERD will
review Canada.
The international delegation is part of several months of activities to protest Canadian colonialism
that have been built around Canada “celebrating” 150 years of colonization of Indigenous territories.
Arthur Manuel, an Indigenous leader who passed away in January 2017 had called on Indigenous Nations
and Peoples to use Canada’s 150th anniversary to tell Canadians and the world that the time had come to
decolonize Canada.
Indigenous Nations have been on our Great Turtle Island (North America) for thousands of years,
yet Canada assumes that they own the Indigenous lands and resources. In its report to CERD and the
recently released 10 principles Canada keeps relying on the colonial doctrines of discovery, claiming that
they obtained underlying title to the land at the declaration of British Crown sovereignty. The Peace and
Friendship Treaties nor any other document ever give any title to the British Crown is a core message
being delivered by the delegations and that all Indigenous Nations across Canada maintain their inherent
land rights and underlying title to the land.
Russell Diabo, a representative of Defenders of the Land and an organizer of the summer’s
#Unsettle150 activities, is among those who will be appearing before CERD in Geneva. “Canada has
signed all of the important international decolonizing treaties,” says Diabo, “but it has held on to its
colonial relations with Indigenous Peoples within Canada.
In the past CERD and the UN Human Rights Committee have both criticized Canada for not
respecting the rights of Indigenous Nations. There have been specific and pointed questions to Canada on
its so-called “land claims” policies that force Indigenous Peoples to terminate their relation to their land in
return for small cash settlements.
Indigenous Peoples and our relationship to our lands and our right to self-determination are a
fundamental principle of international law. CERD has called on Canada in the past to respect the rights
of Indigenous Peoples especially in relation to racism directed at the Indigenous Nations. “Canada does
not possess any document or documents other than the racist doctrine of discovery and underlying Crown
Title to assume jurisdiction over our lands” Chief Judy Wilson of Neskonlith Indian Band of Secwepemc
Nation.

Media contact
Tamara Starblanket (in Geneva - +6 hours EST)
North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus (NAIPC) Co-Chair
Starblanket30@hotmail.com
+1-(604) 319-0896

Janice Makokis (Canada contact)
Janice.makokis@gmail.com
(780) 915-0310

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