A delegation of Indigenous people from B.C. recently attended a United Nations committee in Switzerland on eliminating racial discrimination.
According to Wet’suwet’en hereditary Chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale), Canada has a serious racial problem.
“We went there to inform the committee on the ratification of racial discrimination, about Canada not upholding what they said they would … under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People … They said they’d fully support it and yet we’ve seen nothing of the kind yet,” he said.
“We have a Prime Minister that says they fully endorse UN Declaration Of Rights For Indigenous People and yet we see nothing concrete.”
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) released their report last week citing several problematic areas for Canada.
“The Committee regrets again that the absence of recent reliable and comprehensive statistical data on the ethnic composition of the population, including disaggregated economic and social indicators for ethnic groups, African-Canadians, Indigenous Peoples, and non-citizens and the lack of detailed data and information on the representation of minority groups in public and political life in the State party, prevents it from evaluating the enjoyment of civil and political, economic, social and cultural rights in the State party by these groups,” the report read in part.
The Committee stated it remains concerned with the continued use of the term “visible minority” in the State party to describe minority groups.
“In there the recommendations basically said that Canada should step up because to say you’re going to do something and not follow through is not what the United Nations is about,” said Na’Moks.
In their report, the Committee stated they are concerned that racist hate crimes continue to be under-reported, and that the lack of updated systematic and coordinated tracking of racist hate crime data in all provinces and territories may mean that actual numbers of violations may be much higher. They said steps need to be taken to prevent racist hate crimes against all ethnic and minority groups, migrants and Indigenous Peoples.
Na’Moks pointed out while they were at the meeting, countries weren’t addressed individually.
“When we went there, they spoke to two countries at once, it was ourselves and New Zealand. New Zealand requested that we speak first because we had the longest list of issues. Also while we were there, the other delegates from Canada requested that territory and traditional leadership be the first to speak on the agenda,” he explained.
The report went on to say they are concerned with racial profiling of Indigenous people and the high rate of incarceration of Indigenous Peoples belonging to minority groups. The committee also noted Indigenous offenders are over represented in segregation, 50 per cent of Indigenous inmate women have reportedly been placed in segregation, and that Indigenous inmates have the longest average stay in segregation.
“The way they currently set it up, it’s almost like rubber stamping all of these projects and so when they have a flawed economic assessment process there, it must be addressed. They’ve already made up their mind that the money is worth more than actually land, water and the people are,” said Na’Moks in response to the exploitation of resources being a threat to their ways of life.
Na’Moks went on to add the natural disasters that are happening across North America is related to rubber stamping, meaning letting things go because the government looks at the monetary value and not the cost of the environment.
“Look at all the forest fires we have burning is British Columbia and Canada, look at all the flooding that is happening down in Texas, that is all related to climate change,” he said.
According to Na’Moks, the committee listened to what they had to say on Indigenous people.
“They really questioned Canada on the record that they have in reports,” he said. “Canada was very week in its response, they had some really low-level people there and their response [was] basically, ‘oh that’s not my area of expertise, or ‘I’m not a lawyer.’ ”
“I’m pleased with the recommendations,” Na’Moks pointed out.