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UN panel hears natives’ complaints against Harper government

Will Morin of Subury, Ont., marches toward Parliament Hill during Idle No More protest, Jan. 11, 2013.

Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail

Twenty Canadian first nations have taken to the world stage to accuse the Harper government of violating the human rights of their people and of failing to take action against "racist" media reports.

The communities – most of them Cree – made two presentations before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva on Friday.

The first nations accused the federal Conservative government of introducing a slate of legislation that violates the human rights of first nations.

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The legislation includes two omnibus bills that were passed into law last year, as well as bills dealing with first-nations financial transparency, matrimonial rights on reserve, first-nations elections, reserve drinking water, self-government and changes to the Indian Act. All have been the target of demonstrations by the loosely knit protest group Idle No More.

The first nations say the legislation was drafted without their input and they argue that the government's "denial to include us within a democratic decision-making process" violates the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The second presentation took issue with a number of columns and an editorial, mostly about Idle No More, that have been published in the Sun Media newspaper chain as well as a column in the National Post that they say "perpetuate and reinforce negative stereotypes that belittle and depersonalize first nations and our members based on our race."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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