August 30, 2001 - Durban, South Africa: The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) delegation to the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in South Africa today released "Pushed to the Edge of Extinction", a 24 page Brief depicting systemic racism affecting Indigenous peoples in Canada.
"Our leaders, including National Chief Matthew Coon Come, have recently been dragged over editorial coals for stating that Aboriginal peoples in Canada are being pushed to the edge of social, economic and political extinction," said Cree Grand Chief Ted Moses. "But these are not our words! They are the formal conclusions of the federal government's own Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, which included Supreme Court of Canada and Court of Appeal judges. The highest U.N. human rights monitoring entity, the U.N. Human Rights Committee, repeated this grave warning in 1999. The critics are shooting the aboriginal messengers rather than addressing the undeniable human rights issue."
"12,000 English and French copies of this comprehensive, full-colour Cree Brief are being put in the hands of all State Party and NGO participants at the World Conference," said Grand Council Executive Director Bill Namagoose. "Many of the diplomats, delegates and journalists our Grand Council representatives are meeting in Durban are learning for the first time that Canada has recently been found in violation of its international human rights obligations by virtue of broad systemic discrimination against Indigenous peoples."
The Cree Brief, which is based on the latest official sources and data, describes the conditions of native peoples across Canada, including mass poverty and unemployment, epidemic rates of suicides by native youth, disproportionate incarceration, land dispossession and environmental racism, and the repeated use of state violence against natives such as at Burnt Church, Oka and Ipperwash, The Cree Brief blames these dire conditions on ongoing discriminatory Canadian governmental policies of colonialism and dispossession.
At WCAR, the Grand Council is acknowledging Canada's official position in support of the applicability without discrimination of international human rights law to indigenous peoples, including the right of self-determination. It is calling on Canada to take a strong leadership position at WCAR to prevent a controversial provision in the final WCAR declaration that would undermine these international rights.
Bill Namagoose (613) 761-1765
Andrew Orkin (at WCAR) 082-971-0181 (or from Canada 011-27-82-971-0181)