Russell Diabo,* June 5, 2018

What has become very clear over the past two years is that the AFN has lost control of the agenda, which is now being quietly manufactured and sold directly to the public from Liberal backrooms.

Since forming the federal government, in 2015 the Trudeau Liberals have operated by stealth and deception to rebrand the longstanding federal objective of Terminating our pre-existing collective, sovereign, Inherent, Aboriginal & historic Treaty Rights, as a new “Nation-to-Nation” Relationship” and “Reconciliation” process! And along the way, they have even co-opted our terminology!

Trudeau Government Imposes 10 Racist, Colonial Principles on Indigenous Relationships

One month after signing an MOU on Shared Priorities with AFN the federal Justice Minister issued 10 Principles, which amount to racist, colonial Pre-Conditions for all federal changes to policy, laws and structure.

The Assembly of First Nations has failed to produce a critical analysis of the federal 10 Principles on Indigenous Relationships.

Critique of Federal 10 Principles on Relationship with Indigenous Peoples

Federal 10 Principles neither substantively nor procedurally meet international minimum standards.

First of all, although purporting to relate to the relationship with Indigenous Peoples, the principles were unilaterally released by the Canadian federal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Justice Minister Jody Wilson Raybould.

They did not engage with, consult, let alone seek the consent of Indigenous Peoples and Nations as the proper Aboriginal and Treaty Rights Holders. Under international law, Indigenous Peoples are subjects of international law and the holders of internationally protected Indigenous rights.

The most important right recognized in UNDRIP is the right of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination This is now enshrined in Article 3 of UNDRIP, which replicates Article 1(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and makes it clear that this right applies to Indigenous Peoples.

The right to self-determination is the overarching umbrella right; much of its essence is then spelled out further in UNDRIP, in regard to land rights, governance and Indigenous free prior informed consent (FPIC).

Indigenous FPIC and therefore Indigenous decision-making power regarding access to their lands and resources has to be recognized if UNDRIP implementation is real.

The Canadian federal government’s “10 Principles” do not do that, rather they attempt to lessen and undermine those fundamental principles of international law.

The Federal “10 Principles” are based on the racist, colonial Christian Doctrine of Discovery.

In the Federal “10 Principles” Canada does not refer to, but it continues to rely on its Constitution Act 1867, which was unilaterally passed by British parliament as the British North America Act 150 years ago and enshrines these colonial systems and structures and the division of powers between the federal and provincial government, leaving no room for recognition of equal Indigenous jurisdiction and power, absent fundamental (constitutional) reforms, which are not contemplated in the “10 Principles”.

This is also reflected by the fact that the federal government stated that these “10 Principles” are to guide the federal Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies Related to Indigenous Peoples, but it is now clear these “10 Principles” are being used in negotiations, agreements & funding such as the Education Funding Agreements for Elementary & Secondary Education.

Establishment of Recognition of Rights and Self-Determination Negotiation Tables across Canada

What Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now calling “rights recognition and self-determination” tables were previously called “exploratory tables” and it was previously reported that:

“The exploratory tables, an arena for these new interpretations of section 35 to take form, could impact treaty negotiations, self-government powers and resource management across Canada —among other things under [ADM] Wild’s responsibility. [Source: Joe Wild, senior Assistant Deputy Minister for Treaties and Aboriginal Government INAC June 4, 2016, ipoliticsArticle]

Incredibly, the discussions at these tables continue to remain secret even though they could be used to create new federal policy and law affecting Indigenous Peoples.

As National Chief, I would support Indigenous First Nation Peoples and Allies in organizing and taking direct action to stop the Trudeau government’s planned Recognition and Implementation of Rights Enabling [Termination] Legislation to define “Self-Determination.” It is time to regain control of our own agenda and to demand the true nation to nation negotiations of sovereign peoples that we have so long been promised and so long denied.

Link to Video:

*Russell Diabo is a son of a Kahnawake Mohawk Iron Worker, and is a member of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake. He has worked for Indigenous rights for more than 40 years and his wife over 30 years. Russ has served at the AFN as an advisor to two national Chiefs. As a writer and editor of the First Nations Strategic Bulletin he has been covering the development of Indigenous policy in Canada for the past 20 years and is recognized as one of the foremost Indigenous policy analysts in the country. He is the major reporter for ISN on Canadian First Nations developments. As of June 2018, Diabo is a Candidate for AFN National Chief.


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