- Organizer: Protect Grace Islet
- Date: January 30th
- Start Time: 7:30 pm
- Event Length: 2 hours
- Location: Salt Spring Library Program Room
- Expires: 16 days, 9 hours
Joe Akerman and others on the front lines focus on resource issues, providing eye-witness accounts, a brief history and discussion of the battle against fish farms in Kwakwaka’wakw territory. Part of a series.
Three years ago Grace Islet was purchased by the Province in response to First Nations calls for the protection of their ancient burial ground there. Since then, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission published its 95 Calls to Action, Canada signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and our new Provincial Government promised to adopt and implement both the UN Declaration and the Calls to Action. Practical expression of these commitments, such as Bill C-262 on implementation of the Declaration, need critical support from all citizens.
The Salt Spring Public Library, wishing to engage the public in the potential of the UN Declaration for redress and positive change, is sponsoring an Indigenous Speakers Series over the month of January while displaying the entire text of the UN Declaration in its lobby. In addition, a set of photo panels celebrating the successful protection of Grace Islet by First Nations and their Salt Spring supporters is to be mounted permanently inside the Library.
The Speakers Series focuses on several key articles in the UN Declaration relating to Indigenous peoples’ cultural and economic rights and resources, as follows:
January 17 – Implementing the UN Declaration: MLA Adam Olsen speaks on the possibilities and implications of the Declaration. Evening event beginning at 7:30pm.
January 20 – Since Time Immemorial: First Nation Elders and Knowledge Keepers speak on their continuous presence and connection to the Gulf Islands. Morning event beginning at 10am. Photo panel installation to be officially recognized at noon.
January 23 – The Xwaaqw’um Project: Joe Akerman speaks on current and future community initiatives at Burgoyne Bay and the strengthening of First Nations/settler relationships. Evening event beginning at 7:30pm.
January 30 – The Occupation: Joe Akerman and others on the front lines focus on resource issues, providing eye-witness accounts, a brief history and discussion of the battle against fish farms in Kwakwaka’wakw territory. Evening event beginning at 7:30pm.
Many members of the Salt Spring Community have long supported the rights of Indigenous peoples and have actively worked to protect First Nations archaeological sites, ancestral remains, burial grounds and islets on and surrounding the island.
Work by groups such as Salt Spring Islanders for Justice and Reconciliation and the Salt Spring Islanders for Responsible Land Use as well as initiatives that include bylaws to protect archaeological sites, CRD and private party provisions for ancestor reburial, a campaign to protect Syuhe’mun, the ancestral burial ground at Walker Hook, and a successful collaboration with local First Nation’s peoples to secure protection of the ancestral burial ground at Grace Islet in 2014-2015.
Since 2015, the Xwaaqw’um Project at Burgoyne Bay has been working to provide cultural and educational opportunities for indigenous youth, celebrate Coast Salish culture and to strengthen relations between settlers and First Nations people.
THE UNITED NATIONS DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
In 2016 the Canadian Government signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This document is an international consensus agreement that provides standards for the survival, dignity, security and well-being of indigenous peoples of the world.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has embraced the UN Declaration as “the framework” to redress the human rights violations that have been inflicted on indigenous people through Canada’s history.
In Canada the next step is to provide for the implementation of this document. On December 5, 2017 MP Romeo Saganash introduced a private members bill on implementation of the UN Declaration, Bill C-262.
The Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a coalition that includes the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, states that Bill C-262 provides a “necessary next stage of domestic implementation” of the UN Declaration “in a way that is principled, systematic, cooperative, transparent and accountable”.
In 2017 the NDP Provincial Government also committed to implement the UN Declaration. In British Columbia land settlements, resource allocation and revenue sharing are fundamental issues that need to be addressed to move toward implementation.
Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada – Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future:
Cultural genocide is the destruction of those structures and practices that allow the group to continue as a group. States that engage in cultural genocide
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