Thursday, April 23, 2009

Aborignal realities shared with UN Human Rights Commission

Greetings from the First Peoples of Canada Deputy High Commissioner Kyung-wha Kang.

My name is Brian Barron and I am from the Ojibway Nation Treaty 1 of Canada Turtle Island, a member of the Canadian Labour Congress delegation, and CUPE member. I bring forward specific concerns of the lack of accountability and action from our elected officials of Canada.

First Nations poverty is extreme and epidemic in remote communities of the north and south, alarmingly high rate of unsafe housing and also lack of inhabitable housing. Far too many communities exist without safe potable water creating unsafe drinking water complications for the First Peoples in poor health; our government is eroding the pledge to provide education opportunities diminishing the future of our Peoples to compete for jobs.

I seek guidance and support as a member of the First Peoples of Canada who now have reached 1 million in our country. Coming to Geneva I had hopes to learn lessons that would help our Elders, Leaders address the compromised state our peoples are enduring. Poverty is crippling to our people in the north and south. Poverty directly affects 60% of Aboriginal children, yet nearly 50% of First Peoples live in Cities with incomes lower than other Canadians. The aging population of First Peoples are not even a consideration at this juncture as current daily living conditions remain at the forefront. First Peoples population has increased 45% over a decade making it one of the fastest growing human resources yet unemployment for men is 21% and 17% for women.

Housing in the north is in dire straits with this Fast growing population families are forced to live together with as many as 5 families living in a dwelling built to safely house 1 family, due to the neglect and lack of attention by our government.
Over 100 communities live with a boil water order; sickness and poor health is a by-product of lack of safe water for hygiene as well to use for consumption. Again this overlap of non recognition and lack of attention has placed our people in a position of disadvantage.

Elected leaders are seeking not to honour the promise of education in exchange for treaties signed by our ancestors. Elders and Chiefs had the foresight to look to the future and trusted Canada would honour their pledge.
There are simply no schools or schools, in such a sad state that they are unusable due to our harsh climate as well unsafe due to mold infestation.
We speak of solutions as if solutions were over; solutions are taking place every moment of our lives. Canada must act now as time is running out for many as suicide rates are high.

Negativity must not be the catalyst for lessons that our youth must endure, the future should hold promise and opportunity.
As I listened to a representative from Australia I heard of the sincere recognition and accountability by their government i could only ponder my governments lack of accountability and responsibility. Someone must tell Canada to listen to the people as it appears they have decided to not participate.

Brian Barron
For The CLC delegation at the Durban review Conference
The Diversity Vice-President Representing Aboriginals for the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

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