Six Nations Elected Chief Ava Hill addresses UN

NEW YORK – Six Nations Elected Chief Ava Hill and District #5 Councillor Darryl Hill attended the “Thirteenth Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues” at the United Nations in New York City last week. Chief Hill had opportunity to speak to as many important issues specific to Six Nations, as she could squeeze into her allotted 5 minutes.

“I think it is important to note that Canada had no representatives at the two day meeting on Indigenous issues,” Elected Chief Hill told Two Row Times.

She began her five-minute speech by reciting several articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, beginning with Article 3, which says: “All Indigenous Peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” Article 5, which declares, “Indigenous Peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.” She quoted others as well.

“The presentation was very well received at the UN Permanent Forum,” said Hill. “Issues facing Indigenous people around the world are pretty much the same.”

Hill says that after her 5 minutes at the mic, she had several people come to her and congratulated her on her presentation, including Oren Lyons.

“You gotta keep at it,” says Hill. “Maybe it’s just howling at the moon, but I think we gotta keep howling until somebody begins to listen. I think it is certainly going to help with us because the other governments were sitting there and Canada is always presenting itself as a champion of human rights on the international stage, so I think we need to keep going there to expose what they are doing.

At another international forum last year, Canada was called up to report on all the good stuff they have been doing, and Six Nations Elected Council, along with many others, sent in their reports saying Canada is not doing what they are telling the Geneva Forum they are doing.

“Nothing about us, without us,” says Hill.

The following is Chief Hill’s massage, verbatim:

“She:kon, I am Elected Chief Ava Hill, Mohawk of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and I will briefly present issues and concerns on how the actions of Canada undermines our Treaties of Peace, Friendship and Respect for Governance and Relationships that the Iroquois Peoples have with the Crown in Right of Canada, and how that undermining subverts these articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

Canada’s own Constitution (Section 35) recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal Right to be self-governing. That is a principle upon which Canada was given its Nationhood. Yet Canada deprives us of this Right. Canada continues to practice colonialism toward the Indigenous Peoples in Canada through its words and actions. Canada’s policies, when dealing with land rights, Treaty recognition and implementation and self-government all have the effect of subjugating First Nations and keeping Indigenous Peoples as second-class citizens, living in third world conditions. Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution are empty words for Six Nations without adequate resources and the asserted efforts by Canada undermine our commitment to break away from this colonialism and build our own governance capacity.

Canada’s Practice of The Doctrine of Discovery. Canada has never adequately explained how it acquired title to Indigenous lands and resources,” she said. “They were not acquired through conquest or discovery.

Indigenous nations in what is now Canada entered into treaties with European settlers to share their lands and resources. With the Iroquoian Peoples our title, or ownership to the lands were never passed to the Crown.

Indigenous or Aboriginal title must be recognized as being superior to the British concept of fee simple. It is more than a right of occupancy dependent on the goodwill of the sovereign or the Crown. It is our Aboriginal title that underlies the title of the Crown. Our Title was here before the Crown came upon our shores. Once these fundamental assumptions are overturned, then the process of determining how the Six Nations are to share and benefit from their traditional lands and resources can begin. Only then can self-government implementation begin in a meaningful way.

Canada’s land claims policies are proven failures. They provide financial compensation as the only option. Canada alone determines if they mismanaged our lands and assets. The return of land is not even considered. The only form for restitution is based on the extinguishment of our children’s continued right to the lands and resources at issue. Canada’s form of compensation is in the form of “take it or leave it” offers and is based on their self-serving discount formulas and insinuations that we would have only spent the money anyway. Canada cannot afford equitable and just restitution in a timely fashion for what the Crown(s) have done with their onetime payment policy. Canada is disingenuous with the First Nations Peoples and the Citizens of Canada that the “Honour of the Crown” is being upheld, when the exact opposite is true.

On May 17, 2011, at the Tenth Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Six Nations hosted a side event documenting and explaining our challenges in seeking justice for our Land Rights with Canada. The recommendations we made in 2011 are virtually the same we made to Canada’s Parliamentarians in December 2012. More than 1-year later Canada rebuffed our efforts for a fair and just relationship compatible with our self-determination. Canada is not interested in a fair and equitable process based on the principles and intent within the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada is more interested in extinguishing Aboriginal Peoples Rights and Aboriginal Peoples ownership of Canada. The Crown’s aim is to eliminate a fair chance for Canada’s Native Peoples to participate in the economy.

Free Prior and Informed Consent – And while all these tactics delay and deny the Six Nations Peoples Justice; Canada, Ontario, and even Municipalities are issuing permits, licenses and zoning approvals enabling developments to advance on our Treaty Lands without our Free, Prior and Informed Consent,” she told the assembly. “Again, we are denied any chance of pursuing our economic development and building a sustainable future. As Mr. James Anaya, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, stated “Whenever someone goes onto someone’s land, there needs to be permissions sought and some kind of agreement.”

Canada’s representative, Andrea Richer, in responding to Mr. Anaya’s UN report responded “Canada does not interpret free, prior and informed consent as providing a veto over legitimate decisions of a democratic and representative government.” In other words, Native Peoples in Canada have no say!

Bill C-10 – As noted in article 47 of the most recent report on the situation of Indigenous peoples in Canada, by Special Rapporteur James Anaya, Canada is still passing statues and legislation effecting the Indigenous Peoples lives with no consultation, and no free, prior and informed consent of the Native Peoples,” Hill continued. “ We know best how to educate our children, yet Canada, through its First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act, is attempting to impose legislation on our Peoples which will give the Minister of Indian Affairs even more control over the education of our children. They are also attempting to impose legislation on what they call ‘contraband tobacco’ which will criminalize our people for generating our own revenue and creating employment for our people through the tobacco industry. For the Iroquoian Peoples, tobacco is a part of our ceremonies and has always been one of our economic and trade commodities. Again, Native Peoples in Canada have no say!”

Upholding the articles of the UNDRIP – In upholding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Six Nations of The Grand River once again call upon the United Nations to:

A. Call upon Canada to support land, resource and revenue sharing agreements with the Six Nations of The Grand River throughout their Treaty Lands to establish a self-sustaining, adequate, stable economy with the necessary land base sufficient to achieve and practice our Inherent Right to Self-Government as promised in Canada’s Constitution.

B. Call upon Canada to immediately abandon existing policies such as its Comprehensive and Specific Claims policies which extinguish or have the effect of extinguishing our children’s rights to lands, territories and resources. Canada must enter into and honour long term Treaty Relationships with the Six Nations of the Grand River in addressing our Land Rights issues.

C. Call upon Canada to require our Free Prior and Informed consent prior to passing any legislation affecting the lives and well being of the Six Nations Peoples; and require our Free Prior and Informed consent prior to any developments taking place within our Treaty Territories.

D. Call upon Canada in conjunction with Six Nations to create truly neutral dispute resolution tribunals to resolve legal disagreements relating to our Land Rights. Such a tribunal would have the authority to make binding decisions on the validity of issues, compensation criteria and innovative means for resolving issues. Progress on negotiations shall report to the United Nations and to the Parliament of Canada through a special joint Six Nations/Parliamentary Committee.”



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