Chief Theresa Spence and Attawapiskat First Nation file ‘urgent action’ with UN committee

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence isn't giving up her fight for a fully inclusive meeting between the Crown, the prime minister and First Nations.

Spence, who ended her 43 day hunger strike on January 24th, is part of a group taking their First Nation concerns to the United Nations.

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According to a statement released Tuesday, the International Indian Treaty Council along with Spence and the Mushkegowuk People of Attawapiskat First Nation have filed an 'Urgent Action' with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

The filing party is asking that that CERD make the six specific recommendations to the Government of Canada including the following:

- An immediate meeting to be arranged between the Crown, Federal Governments, Provincial Governments and all First Nations to discuss outstanding issues regarding the
Treaty Relationship, as well as for non-Treaty area relationships.

- That Canada expresses a commitment towards resource revenue sharing, requiring the participation and involvement of provinces and territories and industry currently benefiting from resource development from traditional lands.

- That Canada, as an urgent matter, conduct a comprehensive review and meaningful consultation in regards to Bill C-38 and C-45 to ensure it is consistent with Section 35 of the Constitution Act (1982), and to repeal such aspects of Bills C-38 and 45 which violate the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Danika Billie Littlechild, IITC's legal counsel, says the recommendations of CERD are binding to its member states of which Canada is one.

"The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1965 and entered into force in 1969," she wrote in an email exchange with Yahoo! Canada News.

"As its name shows this Convention (or sometimes called a "treaty") is explicitly devoted to the elimination of racial discrimination. ICERD is legally binding for member State parties; each State has the obligation to uphold and implement all provisions of the Convention."

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In her email to Yahoo, Billie Littlechild says CERD can respond to the 'urgent filing' with one or more of the remedies listed below:

1) Request the state party [ie: Canada] concerned for the urgent submission of information on the situation - in other words, Canada would have to answer questions asked by the CERD as to "what is going on" from their perspective. they may be asked to submit information as to what actions they have taken, how they have responded or not responded to the situation, etc;

2) Request the Secretariat of the CERD to collect information from field presences of the OHCHR and the UN specialized agencies, National Human Rights institutions (which could include human rights commissions in Canada) and NGOs on the situation under consideration;

3) Adopt a decision including the expression of specific concerns, along with recommendations for action,

4) Offer to send to the State party concerned one or more members of the Committee in order to facilitate the implementation of international standards or the technical assistance to establish a human rights institutional infrastructure;

5) Recommend the State party concerned to avail itself of the advisory services and technical assistance of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

CERD will be considering the 'urgent action' submission on Feb 26th.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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