CCEDNet recently sent letters to all federal party leaders, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and federal party critics on Aboriginal Affairs urging the Government of Canada and all parties in the House of Commons to adopt a resolution approving the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples concerning the doctrine of ‘discovery’ and ‘terra nullius’.
The doctrine of ‘discovery’ is a concept of international law used to justify court decisions invalidating or ignoring aboriginal rights to land in favour of colonial or post-colonial governments.
The lasting effects of Canada’s colonial attitude towards Aboriginal peoples remain insufficiently recognized by governments and the Canadian population in general. There is no denying that previous actions of governments and institutions sought to assimilate Aboriginal peoples and refused recognition of their rights. The Canadian government’s apology for the Indian Residential Schools system and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that followed have been valuable steps towards greater recognition of these historical injustices, but much more progress is needed on the fundamental issues of unsettled claims, land and other rights of Aboriginal peoples.
In order to respect our commitments as a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, CCEDNet urges the Government of Canada and all federal parties to accelerate negotiations with Aboriginal Peoples on an equal, nation to nation basis, towards just, fair and equitable settlements of outstanding claims.
The letters follow a resolution passed by the members at CCEDNet’s Annual General Meeting and reflect our determination that all people in Canada have the opportunity to thrive in inclusive and sustainable communities.