As part of our workplan, CAAN has made it our responsibility to follow the social policy that has risen from the 2010 signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Our findings are drawn from a randomized sampling of news articles based on an unbiased Google search. From what we have gathered so far, we have grouped the articles based on their content: human rights, health, financials, residential school, crime and politics.
In terms of human rights in the country, several articles indicate that ending violence against Indigenous women and reducing the homeless population are key issues circulating as of late. NationTalk reports that in April of this year, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Native women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) closed a forum in Edmonton with renewed strength to end violence against Aboriginal women and girls. In terms of homelessness, the government talked heavily in June about Aboriginal housing policies on reserves and the state of homelessness in Canada for this year. According to NationTalk’s article, “News Alert: Homelessness & First Nations Child Poverty,” it is estimated that 50% of Indigenous children are living in poverty and a new $1 billion investment hopes to improve those numbers for the future.
When it comes to health, Canadians have urged the federal government to play a bigger role in reducing the social determinants of health, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). After conducting an online consultation and six town hall meetings held across the country last spring, 12 recommendations were derived to show what the country’s citizens expect from their government this year. The newly appointed Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose, is seeking to implement some of these changes, as seen in NationTalk’s article, “New health minister promises open door, pledges to work with doctors.” Ambrose stressed in her August 19th speech to the Canadian Medical Association the importance of new partnerships, ending family violence and improving Aboriginal health. No mentions were made in regards to funding or new policy directions.
Carol Bennett’s article, “First Nations should be regarded as partners in creating prosperity,” highlights one of the Conservatives’ failures around natural resource development and the relationship with Aboriginals since the UNDRIP signatory. This financial issue is framed in a historical context and serves as a timeline and outline of Indigenous rights in regards to development projects that affect our lands. The author shows that by involving Aboriginal peoples in the government’s project planning, the disconnect between both parties would shrink and many new opportunities would rise benefitting each side. The Globe and Mail’s article, “Alberta sets new rules on industry, aboriginal consultation,” shows that some of the efforts outlined in Bennett’s article are already being put into practice in the prairie province. While the agreement is still far from perfect with many objections already being voiced, the article shows that it is a step in the right direction.
In an attempt to heal the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples caused by residential schools in Canada, a week of celebrations took place in Vancouver this past September to promote understanding. Several articles indicated the importance of this week-long event and it was, and remains to be, heavily reported on. The 120-year residential school policy left negative lasting effects on Aboriginals, but Vancouver’s Mayor, Gregor Robertson, hopes a new beginning rooted in mutual respect can flourish from this overdue apology.
While this is only a sampling of the many efforts currently underway, it is clear that several positive outcomes have emerged from Canada’s 2010 signatory. Despite being up against all odds, Aboriginal peoples in 2013 are doing their best to be seen and heard both in and out of the governmental issues. Whether it’s a parliamentary or a societal concern, First Nations, Inuit and Metis people are not giving up without a fair fight.
For the list of articles used in this sampling, please visit our website at www.caan.ca.
About the Author: Brought to you by the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN).