United Nations flag.
Credits: REUTERS/Pascal Lauener
OTTAWA - In the five years since the United Nations adopted its Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Anne Marie Sam says there's be no noticeable difference in the lives of her people.
The member of the Nakazdli in northwestern British Columbia was among representatives from several native communities, as well as Amnesty International Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, and others who visited Parliament Hill Wednesday to urge the government ensure the rights of First Nations as outlined under the UN declaration are protected.
"We see these rights as an opportunity for things to change, but so far there has been no change to the reality for us on the ground," Sam said.
"Five years ago Canada opposed [this declaration], and tried to convince others to oppose it too," Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, told reporters. "Two years ago Canada announced its support for this, but it has not yet lived up to it."
When Thompson Creek Metals company announced it wanted to open the Mount Milligan mine in Sam's community, she was among a group that examined the plans and came up with a list of recommendations for how the mine could be less environmentally disruptive.
"We hadn't endorsed the plan but that didn't mean we rejected it," Sam explained. "We wanted to be more involved."
The plan went ahead without them.
A reception is to be held Thursday evening at the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa to honour the fifth anniversary of the UN declaration.