l-r: President Clément Chartier, Brooklyn Rivera (Yatama, Nicaragua), James Anaya (Special Rapporteur, UN), Armstrong Wiggins (Indian Law Resource Center)
The United Nations on Monday, May 20th opened its annual two-week gathering on the issues confronting Indigenous peoples worldwide. The opening ceremony in the UN General Assembly Hall began with a traditional flute song and then welcome by Todadaho Sid Hill, traditional Chief of the Onondaga Nation, part of the Six Nations or Iroquois Confederacy, which originally inhabited parts of New York. Paul Sena of Kenya, was elected as the Chair of the 12th session of Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
President Chartier was pleased to have the opportunity to re-unite with Brooklyn Rivera, the leader of the YATAMA Indian organization from Nicaragua, as well as other leaders from various parts of the world. President Chartier also had a short discussion with James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, a long time friend who will be conducting an official country visit to Canada sometime this Fall, and hopefully will include a meeting with the Métis Nation.
In addition to the official discussions, a number of the side events which highlighted issues of health and reproductive rights, investing in Indigenous youth and education, the launch of an adolescent-friendly version of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as a study on violence against Indigenous girls, adolescents and young women, etc. were held at several different locations between the sessions of the PFII which breaks from 1-3 pm each day.
During the discussion of the health agenda item on the first day of the session, Canada spoke of the services and programs provided to First Nations and Inuit, never once mentioning the Métis and highlighting the glaring disparities in its treatment of the three constitutionally recognized Aboriginal peoples.
On day two the Forum dealt with education and culture with numerous interventions by representatives of Indigenous peoples, UN agencies and governments.
Over the next week and a half, the Forum will deal with a large number of important issues, including the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples which the UN General Assembly will convene in New York in September 2014.
Click here to view the UNPF II agenda
Click here to view the side events
Click here to view Special Rapporteur’s mandate
Click here to view the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Helena Nyberg, International Committee for the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas (Incomindios), Switzerland
Luis Fernando Arias Arias (President of ONIC, Colombia)