Alex Neve says 20 years ago missing and murdered Indigenous women wasn’t on the radar of politicians.
Negotiations over the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) was still in deadlock.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a few years away.
Now as Neve plans to step-down in June as the secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada he’s seen all these things happen.
But something is still missing.
“We’ve got a lot of great material out there; a comprehensive list of recommendations. We have politicians who say the right thing all the time, but we’re still stuck in terms of the tough decisions, the real action and follow through that is so crucial,” said Neve on Nation to Nation Thursday.
Neve said he’s not trying to dismiss some of the Trudeau government’s work to date, including calling the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls inquiry or its expressed support for UNDRIP.
But “steaming ahead” with construction of Site C, a major hydro dam in British Columbia, works against this progress.
“[It] flies in the face of what the UN declaration is all about,” said Neve, adding the two most affected First Nations oppose the dam saying it will destroy their traditional territory.
Nonetheless, billions of dollars has been invested.
“It really kind of gives lie to the fact that great things are said but when tough and important decisions need to be made then that conviction seems to fade away,” he said.
Speaking of reconciliation, as one blockade goes down it seems another goes up across Canada as the Wet’suwet’en solidary demonstrations continue.
But who wins in the end?
“When you pit jobs, the promise of jobs, against Indigenous rights, and environmental rights, typically who wins? Jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Pitseolak Pfeifer, a consultant and owner of Inuit Solutions.
There’s been about a dozen court injunctions granted across Canada almost as easy as ordering a pizza, something Pfeifer said violates the rights of Indigenous people.
“It’s completely one-sided. What it does is puts all the blame and guilt on Indigenous people who are trying to protect their rights,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also slow to react to the crisis as he appeared to be preoccupied chasing a United Nations Security Council seat, said ElMNT FM reporter Caroline O’Neill.
“We’ve managed to come a far way with a very good international reputation. But can we really be a world leader when things have gone so wrong at home?” said O’Neill.
Catch all the interviews below.