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Blackbear 06-29-2006 06:10 AM

We Just Need More Time
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We Just Need More Time

Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Ottawa -- Since the mid-1980s, successive Canadian governments have been
working to achieve a United Nations declaration affirming the rights of
indigenous peoples (Some Ideas For The PM -- letter, June 26). In its current form,
however, the draft declaration would not provide any practical guidance; much
of the text is vague and ambiguous.
The text on lands and resources, for instance, uses language that is broad
and unclear; these provisions could be used to support claims to potentially
revive rights that were lawfully extinguished or ceded by treaty, as agreed by
affected aboriginal groups.
As I have said in Parliament, some provisions of the text are inconsistent
with the Charter of Rights, the Constitution Act, previous Supreme Court
decisions, the National Defence Act and policies under which we negotiate
treaties. The chairman-rapporteur of the UN working group has proposed language on
several key points that requires discussion among all parties. We need to work
with other states and indigenous peoples to arrive at a more workable
Canada is a world leader for indigenous rights, and the new government has
made it a priority to work toward improving the quality of life for aboriginal
peoples. We are simply asking for more time: After years of negotiation, a
few more months would allow all parties to arrive at an improved text.

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