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April 26, 2022 — New York, Traditional Lenape Territory, United States of America — Crown−Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown−Indigenous Relations, and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services, continued their participation at the 21st session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). The theme of this session is “Indigenous Peoples, business, autonomy and the human rights principles of due diligence including free, prior and informed consent.”

Before the Forum began on Monday morning, Minister Miller, Minister Hajdu and Ambassador Rae all participated in a morning ceremony with the Indigenous Elders who shared their thoughts and guidance with the Canadian delegation throughout the UNPFII session.

To start the important work of the delegation off, Minister Miller delivered remarks for the opening ceremony where he addressed Canada’s first appearance at the Permanent Forum since the confirmation of unmarked burial sites at former residential schools last summer, and emphasized the Government of Canada’s commitment to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers also addressed the group with their hopes for the work ahead.

As the head of the Canadian delegation, Minister Miller attended the opening session of the Forum, along with Indigenous representatives, Member States, human rights and other expert bodies, academics and non-governmental organizations.

Canada also hosted a welcome reception for Canadian delegates, as well as Indigenous and Civil Society representatives from Canada, where Ambassador Rae addressed the group, followed by Minister Miller, words from Elders and a drumming song from a Tsilhqot’in cultural ambassador. Aluki Kotierk provided the keynote and Minister Hajdu gave closing remarks.

On Monday afternoon, Minister Miller addressed the United Nations plenary on the International Decade of Indigenous Languages and delivered a statement entirely in Kanien’kéha (Mohawk). He spoke about the efforts being made in Canada to revitalize and promote Indigenous languages, including the Indigenous Languages Act. Canada is working closely with Indigenous partners to develop a plan that reflects their vision, as languages are fundamental to identity, culture, spirituality, and self-determination. Indigenous Peoples are best placed to take the leading role in strengthening their languages. With their guidance and leadership, these efforts will support the revitalization of the more than 70 Indigenous languages spoken across Canada.

In the evening, Minister Hajdu attended a side event, led by the National Association of Friendship Centres and Hawaii Investment Ready, where participants discussed how Indigenous-led organizations are building social economies through Indigenous community-driven entities and generating community wealth, particularly within urban environments.

Minister Miller also hosted a side event, in partnership with the National Indigenous Economic Development Board, on economic reconciliation and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The event explored the ways in which the Declaration can be leveraged as a tool for the full realization of the economic potential of Indigenous Peoples.

This morning, Minister Hajdu attended the United Nations plenary session on Indigenous business, autonomy, and free, prior and informed consent. In the spirit of enhancing the participation of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations, she ceded her time to RoseAnne Archibald, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, who spoke about the importance of working collaboratively with the Government of Canada on supporting Indigenous self-determination.

Minister Hajdu also hosted a panel discussion this afternoon on resource extraction and climate transition, where she spoke about the critical importance of Indigenous leadership and knowledge in achieving the foundational changes required to address climate change. As new, green technologies are developed and the demand for critical minerals grows, it will be increasingly important for Indigenous Peoples to be partners in decision making processes in order to ensure industry projects are well designed, implemented, monitored and evaluated.

Throughout the Forum, the Ministers met with Indigenous representatives and international partners from Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Burundi to discuss a variety of issues, such as the participation of Indigenous Peoples in the United Nations, economic development, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and COVID-19 impacts and recovery.

Canada’s participation in international forums is an opportunity to further the work with Indigenous partners and the international community to address colonial legacies and advance reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Our relationships with Indigenous Peoples are strengthened when we collectively pursue the truth, as painful as it is. The Government of Canada is committed to listening to Indigenous Peoples about their priorities for action and the need for change, and will move forward with them in the best way they see fit and at their own pace – in the spirit of self-determination.

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