November 9, 2021
Ambassador of the National Government of the Red River Métis, President of the American Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP)
In the aftermath of the global pandemic caused by COVID 19 and its variants, all national governments in the Americas must take proactive measures to address the devastation of the social and economic structures of societies across Americas. This is especially so for Indigenous peoples throughout the region who have suffered the brunt of the pandemic. As States roll out measures to bring their economies back toward normalcy, this cannot and must not be done without the active and meaningful participation and engagement of Indigenous peoples and nations.
In order to address this critical situation, States must make provisions in their national and regional governments’ budget allocations directed to both national and regional Indigenous peoples’ governments, organizations, and communities in amounts sufficient to enable them to re-establish their capacity to generate economic activities affected by the pandemic, including in the area of agriculture and other traditional resource use.
While making monetary provisions to enable Indigenous peoples and communities to rebuild their economies, it is also important that those countries which can afford it, such as Canada and the United States, provide vaccines to countries less fortunate which must identify Indigenous peoples as a priority. Until Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas are vaccinated, they will remain at risk and economic recovery will be next to impossible.
We again call upon States governments and the Organization of American States (OAS) to make space and real participation within the machinery of the OAS and the Summits of the Americas for Indigenous nations and peoples. In this call for inclusion and accommodation, we rely on the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which received wide-spread support when adopted by the OAS General Assembly in 2016.
As we have been repeatedly stating for the past two decades, we do not accept being categorized as part of Civil Society or Social Actors, rather, we must be respected as the original peoples of this continent and accorded our rightful place within the Organization of American States. There should be no question that we are accorded our own space within the meetings of the OAS and its subsidiary organs. We should not have to compete with Civil Society representatives in order to have a voice at General Assemblies or other meetings of the OAS. This accommodation will certainly be of immeasurable assistance as we move forward with post-pandemic efforts. In this sense, we ask the OAS and Member States to proclaim a Decade for achieving the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples within the OAS system so that Indigenous peoples can be part of the solution to the hemisphere’s most pressing problems, not just a token afterthought.
We are also concerned that the OAS efforts to give life to the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (ADRIP) through the four-year Plan of Action adopted by the OAS GA in June 2017 has not produced tangible results. This Plan has run its four-year mandate without having reached its objectives.
In light of the pandemic and the greater need for such an action plan for implementation of the Declaration, we urge the OAS General Assembly to extend the Plan of Action for another four (4) years or more along with increased initiatives and measures to ensure its success. In this sense, we encourage all Member States to contribute to a Fund to ensure that the OAS does in fact have the capacity to carry out the Plan.
Finally, we call upon the Secretary General to set up a process of engagement between Indigenous peoples and representatives of Member States in order to explore measures or mechanisms necessary to drive Indigenous peoples’ direct participation within the OAS, as well as initiatives to promote the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its renewed Plan of Action for its implementation, including ongoing consultations with Indigenous peoples. Indigenous leaders, elected by their own representative institutions, must be consulted on the implementation of the ADRIP Plan of Action moving forward.
We thank his Excellency Secretary General Almagro for participating in two virtual interactive meetings with the American Council of Indigenous Peoples in April and September of this year.
Marsii, Gracias, Thank you, Merci.