By CP.HOBBEMA — A United Nations seminar on international treaty rights ended yesterday with frustration that so few governments chose to participate.
“Yes, it is frustrating and disappointing, somewhat,” said Willie Littlechild, regional chief for Treaties 6, 7 and 8 in Alberta and an organizer of the seminar in Hobbema, 87 km south of Edmonton.
“We need to come together in our search for solutions.”
An agreement was also struck that indigenous people around the world share similar goals and problems.
The meeting, believed to be the first of its kind to be held in an aboriginal community, brought together 452 representatives of indigenous groups from at least six countries.
“It was really big for the community of Hobbema to have something like this,” said Mel H. Buffalo, president of the Indian Association of Alberta.
But Canada was the only government that participated and the absence of others was noted in resolutions passed by delegates.
“(Participants) express their hope that this does not constitute a disregard or disrespect for this vital UN process,” read the text of one resolution.
Buffalo was philosophical.
“At the beginning, it’s a little difficult to get them to come in,” he said. “I think more will be participating as this thing grows.”
But the conference still got important work done, said Littlechild. The seminar comes as the UN debates passage of a declaration of the rights of aboriginal people, a declaration that Canada has so far resisted signing.
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