FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 31, 2011
A Lil’wat delegation attending the United Nation’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues from May 16 to 27 has just
returned after addressing the lack of implementation of the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in
Canada, which finally endorsed the said Declaration in 2010.
The following is from a statement by James Louie in the 12th Meeting of the UN PFII:
James Louie introduced himself as Pau Tuc la Cimc, a Lil’watmc of the St’át’imc Nation. Addressing the issue of human rights
and implementation of the 2007 UN Declaration, he drew attention to Article 5, the right to self-determination, and Article 7 C the
right not be subjected to any act of genocide, including forcible removal of children.
Contrary to these provisions and to several of Canada’s own laws, which Louie contends made it unlawful for colonial
Governments and their successors to interfere with the internal affairs of Indigenous Nations, the Canadian Government has
unilaterally imposed upon the St’át’imc Nation its own purpose and structures for a lower form of indigenous self-government
by means of a Canadian-legislated Indian Act. Under that Act, since at least 1925, Canada has imposed its system of an
elected Chief for each community C a total corruption of St’at’imc tradition of self determination.
Canada has no treaty with the Lil’wat or St’át’imc that consensually recognizes and embraces the Indian Act as a duly and
legitimately constituted governance structure. Therefore Louie does not recognize any Band Councils formed under the Indian
Act within Lil’wat, or the larger St’át’imc nation to which Lil’wat belongs.
Specifically, he contested at the Permanent Forum the right of the elected St’át’imc Chiefs to enter into a Settlement Agreement
with British Columbia and the hydroelectric utility BC Hydro Power Corporation earlier this month. The elected Chiefs concluded
a Royalty-free payout for land usage in perpetuity; gave a guarantee for the utility’s water licenses (which dominate three
watersheds in the territory), and released the province, the utility and “anyone else” from any future claims for any damages
deriving from the existing facilities on those lands. They purported to do this on behalf of all St’at’imc people, present and future.
In his view, as imposed governance mechanisms, they don’t have the right, according to Article 1 of both Covenants of the
International Bill of Human Rights, to speak on his and his family’s behalf, or to enter into negotiations with the Canadian
government on issues which impact the resources, rights and well-being of the St’át’imc nation. Elected Indian Band Chiefs are
mandated by Canada to deliver Indian Act programs and funding.
“No one but the Lil’watmc can speak for Lil’wat,” Louie declared to the 500 or so PFII participants. “To quote from our
Declaration of the Lillooet Tribe of 1911, "…we are the rightful owners of our tribal territory and everything pertaining thereto."”
Canada continues to deny this, and the human rights that would flow therefrom.
To contest the Canadian government’s persistent violation of Lil’wat’s right to self-determination, in 2007 Louie and twelve other
signatories from Lil’wat brought a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American
States (OAS). Louie is the principal initiator on behalf of Loni Edmonds, a young Lil’wat mother whose children have been
seized and removed by the Canadian Ministry of Children and Families. Loni Edmonds’ children are the fourth in successive
generations of her family to be seized and removed from Lil’wat by the Canadian state.
The OAS case challenges Canada’s legal right to jurisdiction over Lil’wat children. There is no treaty giving this right to Canada,
and it is inconceivable that the Lil’wat would give Canada such a right.
To date, the petition to the IACHR has not been reviewed. Recourse and actions are needed C as provided for in the Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Articles 40 and 42.
Having now delivered their recommendations to the appropriate international human rights mechanism, the Petitioners will
continue to raise awareness and seek aid and support. If they are unsuccessful in having the Inter-American Court review their
Petition, they will pursue it through other fora of the United Nations system.
The main function of the Permanent Forum is to receive recommendations that will help it inform the UN General Assembly on
Implementation of the Declaration. Pau Tuc la Cimc strongly urged the Forum to engage with UN member states, procedures
and mechanisms to make the Declaration a “binding and enforceable” international convention, augmenting the Geneva
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
James Louie attended the Forum in New York, May 16 C 27, as a representative of the International Human Rights Association
of American Minorities (IHRAAM), an international NGO in Consultative Status with ECOSOC, and with critical support from the
Canadians for Reconciliation Society.
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, September 13, 2007:
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural
institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the
Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples and shall not be
subjected to any act of genocide or any other act of violence, including forcibly removing children of the group to another group.
United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights, Common Article 1:
All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue
their economic, social and cultural development.
Contact: Pau Tuc la Cim, James Louie, in Lil’wat C Tel: 604-894-5479
James Louie, Alvin Nelson, Lil’watmc delegation at UN