Sunday, October 6, 2013

What to expect from James Anaya's visit to First Nations in Canada

James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur for indigenous rights, begins his long-anticipated investigation into the living conditions and human rights situation for First Nations tomorrow.

Anaya, an American Indian, is no stranger to Canada. He has served several stints as a visiting scholar at the University of Toronto. If his past record is any indication, what we can expect from Mr. Araya is that at the conclusion of his mission he will tell it like it is.

On a similar tour of his own country, Anaya raised more than a few eyebrows in Washington by stating that the government should give back land stolen from the native people.

That's the good news.

The bad news is what we can expect from the Harper government in response.

In his generally dismissive view of the UN Stephen Harper follows in the footsteps of the two countries with which he has allied himself most closely, Israel and the US. The lesson he has learned from his mentors there is that the UN can be ignored, slandered, and pilloried with impunity.

The American government hasn't given back any stolen land. In Israel the (Jewish) UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinians was subjected to a vitriolic campaign of hate speech accusing him of antisemitism.

So don't get your hopes up.

At the same time, every scrap of attention focused on Canada's shameful treatment of its native population is a step in the right direction.

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