Atleo questions government's intentions on ending violence against Indigenous women

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo says he’s “deeply concerned” that the Harper government has rejected the UN Human Rights Council’s call for Canada to develop a national action plan to end violence against Indigenous women.

APTN National News
OTTAWA–Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo says he’s “deeply concerned” that the Harper government has rejected the UN Human Rights Council’s call for Canada to develop a national action plan to end violence against Indigenous women.

Canada responded Thursday to its Universal Periodic Review report by the Human Rights Council. Nation states’ performances on key human rights issues are reviewed every few years. Canada’s review was completed earlier this year and a report was released June 28 that contained a slew of recommendations including calls that Canada come up with a national action plan to address the violence Indigenous women face within its borders.

“The rejection of such recommendations when Canada is in fact a signatory to important international conventions as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples raises serious questions about the government’s intentions,” said Atleo, in a statement.

The national chief said he would be raising the issue with James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, who will be in Canada on an official visit beginning in early October.

Canada’s Geneva ambassador to the UN Elissa Golberg dismissed the need for a national strategy saying the Harper government was already doing enough.

“Canada accepts the majority of these recommendations on the basis of ongoing efforts to address this problem,” said Golberg, in a prepared statement she issued to the UN Human Rights Council Thursday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs refused several requests from APTN National News to provide a copy of Golberg’s statement, which is posted on the UN Human Rights Council website but available only on a subscription basis.

Ambassador Golberg also dismissed recommendations that Canada develop an action plan to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“Canada does not accept calls to develop a national action plan for the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The declaration is a non-legally binding, aspirational and forward-looking document that calls on states and Aboriginal peoples to work together to ensure a better future,” said Golberg, in the statement. “The government of Canada is working with Aboriginal peoples and in partnerships with other levels of government on many of the issues addressed in the declaration.”

Atleo’s statement made no mention on Canada’s position on the UN declaration.

Countries like Switzerland, Slovakia, New Zealand and Norway called on Canada to develop a national action plan to combat violence against Indigenous women.

First Nations leaders and grassroots activists along with provincial premiers have called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to strike a public inquiry into the prevalence of murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada.

Harper has rejected the idea.

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Before moving to become the APTN News social media producer, Mark was the executive producer for the news in eastern Canada. Before starting with APTN in 2009, Mark worked at CBC Radio and Television in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.