Quebec to endorse UN indigenous rights declaration

Charest government will “seek consensus” in national assembly


Quebec plans to endorse the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples.

The Charest government’s official support for the declaration followed a call by the Parti Québécois to support the declaration.

“Today we wrote Premier Jean Charest to invite his government to continue the Québécois tradition of maintaining sustainable and supportive relations with the First Nations and Inuit by endorsing the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples,” PQ leaser Pauline Marois said May 5.

Luc Ferland, the MNA for Ungava, the riding which includes Nunavik and the James Bay Cree territory, said Quebec must remain a “leader in its relations with First Nations and Inuit,” by endorsing the declaration.

The PQ call prompted Pierre Corbeil, Quebec’s native affairs minister, to promised there will be motion to that effect in the National Assembly before its current sitting wraps up next month.

Quebec is also talking with Ottawa so Parliament acts on its promise made in the last March’s throne speech to “take steps” towards endorsing the declaration.

“It will be up to Canada to take (a) position at the United Nations, but that doesn’t prevent us from getting a consensus on the issue at the National assembly,” Corbeil told reporters.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2007, calls for governments and corporations to obtain the “free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous communities” for use of their lands and resources.

The declaration also says indigenous people must be equal partners in all negotiations on self-determination, lands and resources, culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.

Canada and the United States have not yet endorsed the declaration.

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