Anishinabek Nation Hosts Inaugural UNDRIP Engagement Session

The Anishinabek Nation Legal Department held its first virtual engagement session on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDRIP), beginning with the Waabizheshi (Marten) Dodem (Clan), on 14 July. – Photo by Laura Barrios

ANISHINABEK NATION TERRITORY— The Anishinabek Nation Legal Department held its first virtual engagement session on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) Act, the first in a series of seven sessions , the 14th of July.

Anishinabek First Nations leaders and citizens were invited to participate in conversations on themes regarding UNDRIP and priorities, including, but not limited to, lands and resources, economic development, mining/forestry, agriculture and livestock and housing.

The session began with a welcome from Deputy Chief of the Anishinabek Nation Grand Regional Council, James Marsden, and a recitation of the Anishinabek Nation Preamble by Elder Donna Debassige, member of the Getzidjig Advisory Council of the Anishinabek Nation.

An introduction to UNDRIP was discussed, then the Waabizheshi (Marten) Dodem (Clan) session was moderated by Fred Bellefeuille, Director of Legal Services and Legal Counsel for the Anishinabek Nation. The engagement session involved traditional storytelling while educating and bridging the knowledge gap between Western legal terminology and concepts and Indigenous methods or teachings that provided insight and insight into personal and collective injustices, discrimination and systemic discrimination.

People participated and raised concerns about the spraying of herbicidal chemicals on land where harvesting and hunting takes place without consent or notification, with nuclear waste being stored on traditional territories in southern Ontario and transported through all territories, and former mining sites not having the legal obligation of complete mining restoration. A participant shared traditional teachings on how the land has a spirit and when restoration is not completed, the spirit of the land is destroyed. Deep concerns about eliminating systemic discrimination in housing were also expressed. For example, housing issues raised were around the need for safer and more affordable First Nations housing and deep concern surfaced regarding Elders/seniors, youth and families having to relocate to cities and/or towns. due to lack of housing, unsafe housing, and/or not having enough supports to provide services to Elders, youth and families.

As we review the UNDRIP Act and reflect on the complex issues, processes, frameworks and legislation, we recognize that it will not be easy. However, the Anishinabek Nation Legal Department is convinced that an action plan can be developed by the end of the fall. UNDRIP has now been endorsed by Ontario and Canada. It consists of 46 articles intended to recognize the fundamental human rights of indigenous peoples as well as their rights to self-determination. The Declaration provides a starting point to advance reconciliation and the transformation of federal laws that will preserve and protect the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples. The Anishinabek First Nations have suffered many historical injustices due to, among other things, colonization and dispossession of lands, territories and resources. The Anishinabek Nation recognizes that additional learning will need to take place and that further actions and steps must be taken to respect, recognize and protect inherent rights.

The Anishinabek Nation encourages Anishinabek Nation First Nation leaders, staff and citizens to help change Indigenous history and pave the way for a better path forward for our future generations. Citizens are invited to attend upcoming virtual sessions to provide critical feedback and/or questions related to key aspects of UNDRIP. The Anishinabek Nation will collect any comments provided on what the Anishinabek would like to see in Canada’s 10-year action plan and what changes need to be made to federal legislation over the next decade. A report will be submitted to the federal government outlining the comments and identifying priorities for necessary federal legislative changes.

The next virtual engagement session will take place on August 10, featuring the Migizii (Eagle) Dodem, which involves discussions on education, culture and language, and other issues.

Other upcoming sessions include:

  • August 24, 2022: Ajijaak (Crane) Dodem – Family Relations, Matrimonial Real Property (MRP) and Youth;
  • September 7, 2022: Shiikenh (turtle) Dodem – justice and criminal law;
  • September 21, 2022: Maang (Loon) Dodem – Equality and discrimination, wills and estates, employment and labour, human rights; and
  • October 5, 2022: Mukwaa (Bear) Dodem – Health, police, military and other issues.

If you or someone from your First Nation would like to participate in these sessions or would like to request a separate session, please contact the Anishinabek Nation Justice Manager, Kristy Jones: [email protected] Registration for virtual engagement sessions available here.