Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brian Barron's blog on Thursday's events at the DRC

Today, I stood at the Tram station in Geneva waiting to board the number 15 that would take me to my destination the Durban Review Conference. I shared my ride with Sisters and Brothers from the world community. I could feel the excitement and anticipation mounting as the tram approached the United Nations stop.

Many discussions were occurring all around me about the past days events and what was waiting for today. As a member of the CLC delegation representing Canada I have quickly become accustomed to expect the unexpected by my comrades staying at the IBIS Hotel here in Switzerland. They have lead me on adventures that have concluded in many laughs and many miles to contemplate the plight of the Human Rights Community as we trekked the roadways of Geneva having got off the bus way to soon, and waving to the buses carrying other activist to the same destination.

When you think about the United Nations, you think a little about security. Well, I can tell you they ‘live’ security at the UN. Search after search started me questioning whether I would reach the General Assembly or any event for that matter. The vast size of the facility alone is quite intimidating for a prairie boy to fathom, let alone the huge number of police and security. My dad always said there’d be days like this; I just didn’t know I would be across the world from my home.

Well, I made it into the main building and wandering quite hopelessly around as delegates and diplomats race quite confidently to their destination. It is very difficult to be in a place of worldly thinkers and problem solvers and not look dumb as you follow people going in the opposite direction to where you need to get to. However, I rely again on that good old prairie common sense, if questioned about being in the wrong place I simply answer “I meant to do that”. So far so good!

After attending the NGO meeting I was able to meet with a few familiar faces purely by accident, no doubt, as again I was racing to nowhere trying to get my United Nations bearings. I spotted the rest of the CLC delegation and quite confidently marched up to them, although I was quite exhausted as I had trekked yet again many needless kilometers and the day was just beginning. After a short meeting with my comrades it was off again to start the business of combating racism.

Brother Karl had asked me to make contact with Kenneth Deer from the ICT task force. Well, the Great Creator must have been watching out for me as I nearly bowled him over as I left Salle 17. After a brief chat he informed me that he was the moderator for the session on “The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Contributing to the realization of the DDPA”.

The session was really eye opening for me for starters as I bumped into the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-Wah Kang with a quick apology and was off again. I am still suffering from jet lag combined with an inner ear inflammation which shuts my balance down for short bursts without warning. I quickly and embarrassingly found a seat and listened attentively to the 4 panelists from around the world. As each speaker shared and spoke about their experiences and the international challenge, it was becoming quite evident that in spite of the many committed expert activists challenging racism it has not been diminished in its capacity to craft influence on the world forum yet today. As each panelist shared their views and experience it was apparent that the world has become increasing intolerant to the acts of racial discrimination and racism of today. The framework of the DDPA must play a role in the fight against this type of behavior. As well, it was suggested that perhaps it’s an opportunity for activists to evolve in strategies. The notion was suggested by Catherine Odimba that parallelism of action with the DD and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples could play a role.

Perhaps what was most intriguing of the event for me was Tom Calma from Australia who spoke of the striking similar circumstances of Aboriginals in his country and First Nations Peoples in Canada. He spoke of the potential to reverse legislation for the politicians to recognize and be accountable for the past mistakes that have been made.

It has been a wonderful day as I have met with a Mohawk man from Kanawake , who through our brief yet intense discussion, reinforced my belief that Indigenous People across the world hunger for equality and have grown impatient with the lack of action. That the challenge to equality, is in fact, not race based as others would have us believe.

It is quite late as I sit and compose this message in the surrounding area by the hotel; someone is playing a piano. It made me think of music back home and the songs of Bob Dylan resonated in my mind. Dylan wrote a song many years ago titled something like ”The Times are changing”. I believe this was to prepare populations of the impending evolutionary changes coming. Well, Mr. Dylan, it appears those times may be changing. However, based on what I have experienced to date at the Durban Review Conference, the song remains the same with regard to Human Rights.

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