Canada’s aboriginal well-being efforts ‘insufficient,’ UN envoy says

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Pipeline concerns

The report also recommends the government get consent from aboriginal groups before moving forward with resource extraction projects on land subject to aboriginal claims. That would include pipeline projects currently in the works, such as Enbridge’s controversial Northern Gateway pipeline.

“While indigenous peoples potentially have much to gain from resource development within their territories, they also face the highest risks to their health, economy, and cultural identity from any associated environmental degradation,” reads the unedited version of the preliminary report.

“Perhaps more importantly, indigenous nations’ efforts to protect their long-term interests in lands and resources often fit uneasily into the efforts by private non-indigenous companies, with the backing of the federal and provincial governments, to move forward with natural resource projects.”

According to the aboriginal affairs minister, “the responsible development of our natural resources is good for all Canadians and provides an unprecedented opportunity for First Nations.”

“In fact, over 32,000 First Nations people are employed in the natural resources sector, making it the largest private employer of First Nations people in Canada. Over $650 billion worth of major projects are projected in the next 10 years and First Nations communities are well positioned to benefit from these opportunities,” Valcourt said in a written statement on Monday.

Anaya said that the concerns of aboriginal people merit “higher priority” at all levels of government noting that the relationship between aboriginal people and the government is perhaps even more “strained” since the last UN special rapporteur visited in 2003.