CIGI BLOG #11: “Cultural Genocide of Canada’s Aboriginal People”

Author: Rhoda Howard-Hassmann
Published: July 13, 2015

“Recently two events occurred that once again spurred discussion in Canada about its relations to its Aboriginal population. On May 28, 2015, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of Canada’s Supreme Court delivered a speech in which she made explicit reference to Canada’s cultural genocide of its Aboriginal peoples. I am sure many people were surprised by this speech, and some may have speculated that in her position Chief Justice McLachlin should not have used such a phrase. On June 2, 2015, Justice Murray Sinclair released the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that has been exploring the terrible abuses of Aboriginal children in residential schools from the late 19th to the late 20th century. He, too, used the phrase, ‘cultural genocide.'”

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CIGI BLOG #10: “Global Governance is a Two Way Street: James Anaya’s Visit to Canada”

Author: Ken Coates
Published: Oct. 7, 2013

“Internationalization and global governance occupy two-way streets, even for a wealthy country like Canada. For generations, Canadians have viewed the UN and other global governance institutions as operating in a single direction: taking resources from the well-to-do nations and redistributing them to poorer countries or regions in crisis. This country has been comfortable with this approach for a long time, dispatching peace-keeping troops, sending foreign aid and supporting many humanitarian and social justice initiatives around the world.”

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CIGI BLOG #9: “From Aspiration to Inspiration: UNDRIP Finding Deep Traction in Indigenous Communities”

Author: Ken Coates
Published: Sept. 18, 2013

“Public discussion of UNDRIP has been surprisingly limited, both in Canada and on the international scene. The dramatic two-stage passage of the agreement – ‎the initial positive vote by the UN General Assembly and the subsequent acceptance of the declaration by Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA – seemed to be a promising start that quickly lost political momentum. Aside from occasional mentions by Aboriginal leaders, the Declaration has languished on the pile of once-promising UN agreements, honored more in the breach than by concerted action.”

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CIGI BLOG #8: “UNDRIP Changes Indigenous Peoples Articulation of Both Problems and Solutions”

Authors: Ken Coates and Terry Mitchell
Published: Aug. 27, 2013

“The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was defined at the time of its passage as an “aspirational document.”  Those governments that resisted the declaration — Canada, United States, Australia and New Zealand in 2007 and which signed on later in 2010 — worried that the creation of international law on Aboriginal rights would elevate Indigenous expectations. This is precisely what appears to be happening.”

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CIGI BLOG #7: “UNDRIP: Shifting From Global Aspiration to Local Realization”

Authors: Ken Coates and Terry Mitchell
Published: Aug. 22, 2013

“The core lesson in the creation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was simple: collective action by Indigenous peoples could force major changes in international law and national government policies. As late as 2000, the prospects for the draft declaration looked less than auspicious. It was not clear that the United Nations would approve a complex and politically-potent document. When it passed in 2007, four influential nations — Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States — held out, declaring that UNDRIP contradicted national policies and was impractical. The four countries capitulated in 2010 and UNDRIP was established as a key statement of international aspirations.”

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CIGI BLOG #6: “Forcing New Directions in Government Policy”

Authors: Ken Coates and Terry Mitchell
Published: Jan. 24, 2013

“For the past two months, Canadians have experienced unprecedented attention to Aboriginal affairs. The combination of three elements – the long and controversial fast of Chief Theresa Spence in Ottawa, dozens and dozens of events across the country under the banner of Idle No More, and intense debates within the Assembly of First Nations about the appropriate strategy for negotiating with the Government of Canada – kept Indigenous issues in the headlines for two months straight. The combined protests and the often-heated rhetoric generated both sympathy and frustration from non-Aboriginal Canadians, although hardly in equal measure. By the end of January, opinion polls showed that support for Chief Spence had plummeted and that non-Indigenous sympathy for Aboriginal demands had likewise eroded.”

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CIGI BLOG #5: “Considering the Triple Bottom Line of Good Governance”

Authors: Terry Mitchell and Ken Coates
Published: Dec. 3, 2012

“Governments around the world are gradually recognizing and acknowledging that historical and existing models of government relations with Indigenous peoples have not worked and that new approaches are urgently needed. Good governance, almost everyone agrees, is the absolute foundation of locally controlled and effective social, economic, political and cultural development. Standard Western models of government, typically judged by financial metrics and bottom-line accounting procedures, do not fit well with Indigenous needs and aspirations. New approaches, tied to broader evaluations of effectiveness and built off of “triple bottom line” thinking, are urgently needed if there is to be genuine improvement and meaningful power sharing with Indigenous peoples.”

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CIGI BLOG #4: “The Achievement of Indigenous Internationalism”

Authors: Ken Coates and Terry Mitchell
Published: Nov. 20, 2012

“Canada’s decision in 2010 to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples represented much more than a change of federal government policies. The belated action, coming three years after the UN passed this historic agreement, marked the high point in the generations-long struggle for the recognition of Aboriginal rights.

The UNDRIP is a political game-changer, at a level that is under-appreciated. Under the long-standing nation state system—created under the Westphalian Treaty—Indigenous peoples found themselves embedded inside nations. While governments recognized national boundaries and agreed, short of war, not to interfere with state sovereignty, Aboriginal peoples were not recognized or acknowledged. Empires colonized Indigenous communities; national governments occupied Aboriginal lands and gave themselves legislated authority over Indigenous populations.”

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CIGI BLOG #3: “The Interplay of the National and International in Indigenous Affairs”

Author: Ken Coates
Published: Nov. 5, 2012

“A decade ago, a group of First Nations leaders from Canada traveled to Siberia to meet with Indigenous groups in the former Soviet Union. Squalid living conditions, limited health and education facilities and widespread poverty, combined with little respect for Indigenous rights, dismayed the Canadian visitors. At the end of the tour, responding to a journalist’s question, one First Leader reportedly said, “I will never complain about the Canadian government again.”

He did not keep the promise. Upon return to Canada, the reality of Aboriginal poverty, legal powerlessness and community despair immediately reminded him of the importance of continuing to pressure the Government of Canada. The Russian reality, sad and disappointing as it was, was not allowed to define Indigenous activism in Canada.”

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CIGI BLOG #2: “The Promise of Indigenous Youth”

Authors: Terry Mitchell and Ken Coates
Published: Oct. 22, 2012

“Canadian social policies directed towards Aboriginal (First Nation, Metis and Inuit) populations have largely been developed outside of a historical, cultural framework, providing a long standing demonstration of the role of policy as a centralized mechanism of social control. Little attention has been given to the specific cultures of diverse Aboriginal communities in the design and administration of policies which are administered across Canada. Aboriginal peoples have, historically, been collectively addressed in federal policies as “the Indian Problem,” rather than recognized and addressed, as they expected, as sovereign peoples with distinct cultures.”

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