Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:8AM GMT
- A number of Canadian aboriginal groups briefly blocked roads and rail lines in January as part of a national protest effort called “Idle No More” against the poor living conditions of many native people.
A UN official has blasted Canada for its weak handling of the massive problems facing the country’s indigenous people, saying Canada is facing a “crisis” in terms of its treatment of its natives.
UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya made the remarks in a Tuesday news conference in Ottawa, following the completion of his nine-day probe of the situation of Canada’s aboriginal population.
Anaya emphasized that the Canadian natives suffer from violence, crimes, unemployment, suicide and “woefully inadequate” housing, leading to a range of health troubles among the indigenous communities.
“From all I have learned, I can only conclude that Canada faces a crisis when it comes to the situation of indigenous peoples of the country,” he said.
The UN official further underscored that the Canadian government still has a long way to go in narrowing “the well-being gap” between aboriginals and non-aboriginals.
Anaya also urged the federal government to launch a “comprehensive and nationwide” inquiry into the case of missing and murdered aboriginal women, something the Canadian government has refused to do.
He went on to describe the unresolved cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women as a “disturbing phenomenon” and an “epidemic.”
“Canada consistently ranks near the top among countries with respect to human development standards, and yet… aboriginal people live in conditions akin to those in countries that rank much lower and in which poverty abounds,” Anaya further stated.
According to a 2011 census, Canada has 1.4 million aboriginals, which is nearly 4.3 percent of its overall population.
A number of Canadian aboriginal groups briefly blocked roads and rail lines in January as part of a national protest effort called “Idle No More” against the poor living conditions of many native people.
Furthermore, an alliance of Canadian and American indigenous groups vowed to block three proposed pipelines that are planned to transport oil from tar sands in Alberta through the US.
The natives complain that various levels of government in Canada have not adequately consulted them before approving the exploitation of the natural resources that lie where indigenous people consider their ancestral land.