The Ninth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is a distinct gathering happening April 19 to 30 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. One of many significant aspects of this forum was the signing of the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights by New Zealand; however, a more pinnacle moment for myself, as an indigenous youth, would have been the signing of this document by my own country.
Perhaps Canada is afraid of the basic rights that this document would provide for all indigenous people in Canada, and the accountability that would call for to meet basic human rights.
Some of the basic rights outlined in this document include affirming that indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples, while recognizing the right of all peoples to be different.
Indigenous peoples have the right, without discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, in the areas of education, employment, vocational training and retaining housing, sanitation, health and social security.
These affirmations and rights may seem like basics to mainstream society in Canada, but until Canada signs and follows through on the basic human rights of indigenous people we will all suffer.
This suffering is seen in many forms in the indigenous people across people, but one of specific worry is the epidemic and increasing rates of HIV/AIDS among aboriginal youth.
Today, aboriginal youth are the fastest growing population within Canada and now represent more than 50 per cent of the aboriginal population. Yet they account for more than 26.5 per cent of new HIV infections overall.
This example is only one, which is evidence of why Canada needs to sign this document.