Statement - 10 years since Indigenous rights fully recognized by the United Nations — how is Canada doing?

September 13, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

Today, on the tenth anniversary of the UN adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, issues the following statement:

“Ten years ago today, the United Nations adopted a declaration that affirmed to the entire world, the rights of Indigenous peoples as equal members of the human family. For Canada, it meant that the rights of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples were now given due recognition by international human rights law.

“In the decade since its adoption, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has become a signal of the international community’s recognition of the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples. Here in Canada, we have seen a tangible shift over the past decade in public awareness of the historic wrongs and the current injustices that too many Indigenous people have faced, and continue to face.  

“Last year, an Environics study on Canada’s public opinion of Indigenous peoples found that overall, more and more Canadians have a deeper understanding of the gaps in equality, the history of the residential schools and the need for overall public engagement on Reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. 

“Along with increased understanding, we have seen a growing momentum and desire for change – at the highest levels of government. The calls for change are not just coming from Indigenous peoples — they are coming from people across Canada.

“Yet, much more remains to be done to achieve equality in the daily lives of Indigenous peoples, an issue that was front and centre in the recent child welfare case. 

“Issues such as access to clean drinking water, adequate housing, education, child welfare services on reserve, access to justice — these are all, at their core, human rights issues facing Indigenous peoples. And they are priority issues for us at the Commission, and for the many other dedicated organizations working for Indigenous rights in Canada. It is our hope that together, over the course of the next decade, we can all continue the momentum and make great strides towards full equality, full access to justice, and full inclusion for Indigenous people in Canada.”

Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner


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Quick Facts

  • Half of children in foster care in Canada are Indigenous. Source
  • Over 150 First Nations communities do not have access to clean drinking water.  Source
  • 37% of housing units on First Nations reserves are in need of major repairs. Source
  • The murder rate of Indigenous women is 4.5 times higher than other women in Canada. Source
  • 1 in 4 federal inmates are Indigenous. Source 
  • The suicide rates among Inuit youth are among the highest in the world—11 times the national average. Source
  • The 2016 Environics study found that:
    • Six out of ten non-Indigenous Canadians believe there is a large gap in the standard of living between themselves and Indigenous peoples;
    • Two-thirds of non-Indigenous Canadians have heard or read something about Indian residential schools;
    • 42% of Canadians report being aware of the mistreatment of Indigenous peoples in the residential schools, including the abuse and molestation of students; and
    • 84 % of non-Indigenous Canadians are aware that individuals have a role to play in bringing about Reconciliation.

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