The United Nations Permanent Forum’s 15th session opened on May 9 with Canada’s announcement that it will begin incorporating the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into federal law.
"We are fully adopting this and working to implement it within the laws of Canada, which is our Charter," Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Carolyn Bennett said at the opening session, according to CBC News.
The forum opened on Monday May 9 at U.N. headquarters in New York City, with Bennett’s announcement that Canada will remove its permanent objector status from the Declaration. She attended the opening with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who also addressed the forum. Wilson-Raybould, herself a former British Columbia regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, noted that the issue of consent, with its varied meanings and potential connotations, would take a bit of time to address.
"There are many facets to the question, differing perspectives, and a number of options," she said, quoted by CBC News.
Her words were in keeping with this year’s theme, Conflict, Peace and Resolution. The U.N. expects more than 1,000 participants from around the world this year at the forum, which runs from May 9 through 20.
“The issues of peace and conflict, often relating to indigenous peoples' lands, territories and resources, and to their rights and distinct identities, will be at the forefront of this year's discussions,” the UN said in a statement.
Also accompanying the two Canadian ministers to New York this week are representatives of the Native Women's Association of Canada, Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), and assorted youth and elders, CBC News said.
Coming to New York later this week are Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, who will lead the indigenous delegation to the forum. Representatives from the Native Women's Association of Canada, Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and assorted youth and elders are also going to be on hand.
The indigenous leaders along with Bennett will hold a side event on Thursday May 12, “Truth and Reconciliation: Adoption and Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” with panelists including Grand Chief Ed John, member and former Chair, UN Permanent Forum; Senator Murray Sinclair, who had also chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC); TRC Commissioner Chief Wilton Littlechild, Expert, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and President Clément Chartier of the Métis Nation.