Canada awaits Harper’s input on UN recommendation
Aboriginal rights and treatment have long been issues in Canadian society. Recently, however, the issue has received new levels of attention and the plight of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, typically a national issue, has been taken to the international stage via the United Nations.
James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, is arguing that certain crimes against Aboriginal Canadians amount to genocide as per the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. He claims land and natural resource disputes have gone unresolved and referred to the situation as a crisis.
This is a new and more internationally visible way of addressing a long-standing division in Canadian society. Additionally, the move aims to challenge our national narrative.
It is especially interesting because of the strained relationship between the United Nations and the Harper government. It’s either a good way to get the government’s attention and galvanize international support, or it could make the issue even more divisive.
Harper could treat the UN recommendation with irreverence because of it being a UN recommendation, or he could succumb to international pressure. It is always a risk to go over the head of the government. It is a sign that the Aboriginal community has given up on a purely domestic solution and does not trust that they can come to an amicable agreement with the Harper government.
The conditions of many reserves are deplorable and bureaucracy gets in the way of progress in relations between aboriginal groups and different levels of government. Though, identifying the problem has never been the issue for the government or Aboriginals so perhaps a new strategy towards reaching reconciliatory solutions is what is necessary.
If anything, the UN involvement may prioritize Aboriginal relations for the Harper government and reestablish some dialogue and trust between the two parties. All parties involved are working towards the same ends, and this could be the much-needed push for agreeing on a mutually beneficial means of getting there.