(James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples. APTN/file)
By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples, is expected to release his report on Canada early next week, APTN National News has learned.
Anaya’s report, which will be partially based on his visit to the country last autumn, could be released as early as Monday, according to a source with knowledge of the file.
Anaya could not be reached for comment.
The report will land at a sensitive time in the relationship between Ottawa and First Nations which has been strained of late as result of the Harper government’s introduction of a bill to govern on-reserve education. The debate over the bill has already claimed former Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo who said he resigned because he didn’t want to become a lightning rod on the issue.
During an October press conference just before he wrapped up his visit, Anaya called on Ottawa to recalibrate its plans to introduce a First Nation education bill.
“I have heard remarkably consistent and profound distrust toward the First Nations Education Act being developed by the federal government, and in particular deep concerns that the process for developing the Act has not appropriately included nor responded to Aboriginal views,” said Anaya, at the time. “I urge the government not to rush forward with this legislation, but to re-initiate discussions with Aboriginal leaders.”
The Harper government didn’t push through with the First Nations Education Act. It replaced it with the First Nation Control of First Nation Education Act which was announced in a press conference with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Atleo on the Blood Tribe reserve in February.
Anaya also called for increased funding to put on-reserve education systems on par with province-run systems.
During the October press conference, Anaya said the Harper government should extend the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for as long as necessary. He also backed calls for a national inquiry into the high number of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
“A comprehensive and nation-wide inquiry into the issue could help ensure a coordinated response and the opportunity for the loved ones of victims to be heard,” said Anaya, at the time. “And (it) would demonstrate responsiveness to the concerns raised by the families and communities affected by this epidemic.”
The RCMP recently revealed that nearly 1,200 Indigenous women had been murdered or gone missing since 1980.
Anaya visited First Nation communities in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. He also met with federal officials, including Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, and the RCMP.
Anaya initially requested permission to visit Canada in February 2012 and wrote Ottawa three times asking for official permission to visit. He finally received permission this past summer.