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Canadian First Nations stand up for Indigenous youth at United Nations

Giovanni Torre -

Last week the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs attended the 23rd United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in the Lenape Territory (New York City).

The Union (UBCIC) noted that this year's theme was enhancing Indigenous peoples' right to self-determination in the context of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, emphasising the voices of Indigenous youth.

UBCIC said on Tuesday that it worked hard during the Permanent Forum (UNPFII) to "create connections and learn through international advocacy."

UBCIC's youth representative Katisha Paul was voted one of the North America Region's Indigenous Youth Caucus Focal Points for the year, a position that is tasked with maintaining connection between the Indigenous youth in North America as the UN continues its work through the year.

"It was incredible to have the support of the UBCIC in this international space," she said.

"As Indigenous youth we were able to meet with Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Anandasangaree in a very personal dialogue, meet regularly to work through collective interventions for the floor of the UN and support each other as Indigenous Youth," she said.

"As I grow in leadership, I look forward to more engagement and international advocacy for First Nations people in BC."

At the forum, UBCIC called on the UN and Member States to include more opportunities for Indigenous youth to learn about and advance their collective and individual rights.

"We further stated that Indigenous peoples' collective rights must be recognised as unique and cannot be conflated with those of local, and minority communities," the Union said in a joint statement.

UBCIC Vice-President, Chief Don Tom, said the Permanent Forum demonstrated the power that Indigenous peoples have.

"As we came together on an international stage, I was incredibly impressed by the voice of the youth in the room," he said.

"We are in the midst of implementing the UN Declaration (on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) in Canada and BC and this forum has spotlighted where this is going well, and how much more needs to be done.

"Being at the UNPFII… allowed us to listen to other Indigenous peoples who are fighting the same fight as we are, and as Indigenous people this was an important opportunity."

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