Northern MP returns from United Nations trip focused on Indigenous issues

Found on: LaRongeNOW

Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River MP Gary Vidal is back in Ottawa after he travelled to New York earlier this week to attend the United Nations (UN) Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The 21st session of the permanent forum is being held April 25 to May 6 at the United Nations Headquarters and follows the theme of Indigenous peoples, business, autonomy and the human rights principles of due diligence including free, prior and informed consent. Indigenous and government leaders from around the world are attending the meeting.

Vidal was invited to the forum by Minister Marc Miller of Crown–Indigenous Relations Canada.

“It was actually a really interesting opportunity to listen to the perspective of people globally on the Indigenous issues in each of their countries,” Vidal said. “As you listen to people making their case from many different countries in the world, there was some really similar themes in some of the things they talked about. That was kind of an interesting for me.”

The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is a high-level advisory body to the UN’s Economic and Social Council. The group provides expert advice and recommendations on Indigenous issues, raises awareness and promotes the integration and coordination of activities related to Indigenous issues within the UN system, and prepares and disseminates information on Indigenous issues.

It also promotes respect for and full application of the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and follows up the effectiveness of the declaration.

Vidal explained it was a good chance for him to learn more about issues like Indigenous business and autonomy, as well as the idea of economic reconciliation.

“It probably confirmed that some of my knowledge base was going the right direction, but it’s also when you get to talk and participate in things with some pretty smart people from around the world, there is always an opportunity to improve your knowledge and learning and increase your capacity to serve people,” he said. “I think that was a really great opportunity for me.”

The forum was established in 2000 with the mandate to deal with Indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.