The Green Party of Canada is joining with many across the globe to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on August 9. This year’s theme is: “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices.”
International Day of the World’s Indigenous People was first proclaimed by the United Nations in 1994, and Canada signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples last year in June.
However, the commitment to uphold rights has yielded nothing in terms of results from the Harper Conservatives. Instead, the curtailing of consultation with First Nations in the Environmental Assessment process, cuts to Aboriginal health programmes and the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline-and-tanker scheme are just a few examples indicating that the Harper Conservatives are not interested in empowering the voices of indigenous Canadians. The treatment being given to Indigenous language speakers at the Joint Review Panel hearings on the Enbridge Northern Gateway project is a particularly appalling example. While many First Nations have presented at the hearings, their voices are not properly materializing in the official published transcripts. Instead, translators are inserting placeholders indicating ‘native word’, an inaccurate and disrespectful label that demeans oral Aboriginal traditional knowledge.
The Green Party of Canada recognizes that Aboriginal cultures, languages and histories are a fundamental source of our Canadian identity. A responsible government would promote and protect indigenous media, provide protection for indigenous intellectual and artistic property rights, and support the development of Aboriginal education curricula that are language and culture specific.