Ambassador Chartier Attends the VI Inter-American Week for Indigenous Peoples

August 10, 2023

The VI Inter-American Week for Indigenous Peoples, August 7-11, 2023 had as its theme this year: "Indigenous Youth as Agents of Change for Self-Determination in the Americas: Intergenerational Connections". Ambassador Clément (Clem) Chartier attended the session from August 7 - 9th.

After the opening on the morning of August 7th, Ambassador Chartier had a meeting with Canada's Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Mr. Hugh Adsett and discussed both Red River Métis matters as well as the matters dealing with Indigenous peoples in South and Central America.

With the failure of the federal government to provide the name of an Indigenous youth delegate from Canada, Ambassador Hugh Adsett late on August 8th, the day before the meeting of the Permanent Council, asked Ambassador Chartier of the Manitoba Métis Federation, the National Government of the Red River Métis if he would be willing to speak about his experience as a former Métis youth activist as well as his experience as a Métis leader in connection with youth engagement within the Métis Nation.

This invitation was accepted and Ambassador Chartier joined a panel on August 9th and spoke to his own involvement as a youth, as well as the work that the MMF has been doing in terms of youth engagement, including the Elders and Youth Gatherings and the purchase of fiddles a number of years ago for distribution to Métis students in schools across the province which has resulted in hundreds of Métis youth and now, young adults, carrying on Métis culture and traditions by that fiddle buying initiative.

Ambassador Chartier also spoke about international aspects as well, recounting that the Métis Nation when he was the President of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, and Chair of the Batoche Centenary Committee in 1985 hosted an International Indigenous Youth Conference at Batoche. Further, in May of this year, Indigenous leaders from several countries in South American met at the Autonomous Indigenous Intercultural University in Popayan, Colombia at which time the leaders also spent ½ day with the students.

This dedicated week for Indigenous peoples had its origins in the decades of negotiations between Indigenous peoples and Member States of the OAS, which resulted in the adoption of the American Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (ADRIP) by the OAS General Assembly in June 2016. This led to the adoption of a Plan of Action for the implementation of the ADRIP by the OAS GA in June 2017. While Canada did not express support for the Declaration in 2016, it did join the consensus on the adoption of the Plan of Action.

In February 2018, the Permanent Council of the OAS adopted a resolution establishing the Inter-American Week for Indigenous Peoples. That resolution called upon the General Secretariat to "mark that week with activities that promote and recognize the culture, significance, and contributions of indigenous peoples to the development of societies". This resolution has a limited mandate and basically centers mainly on culture and non-political issues.

The Plan of Action however, has a broader mandate which finally saw some action in March of this year at a meeting of OAS Member States and Indigenous peoples hosted by the government of Guatemala which addressed one of its provisions. This was the call for a mechanism to monitor the implementation of the ADRIP. At its June 2023 session, the OAS GA adopted the recommendation coming out of the March 20-22, 2023 Guatemala meeting which called for the establishment of a Working Group as the mechanism to monitor the implementation of the Declaration.

This WG will have representation from both governments and Indigenous peoples covering North, South and Central America and Caribbean. Closing off the panel session on August 9th the Secretary for Access to Rights and Equity referenced the March Guatemala meeting and the OAS GA resolution setting up the Working Group and called upon Member States to determine the membership of the Working Group.

It should also be noted that, under the heading of "Exchange of Best Practices and Experience" in the Plan of Action, there was a provision calling for the OAS to:

Hold a special annual meeting of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs attended by officials from the national and subnational institutions working on indigenous issues and open to participation by representatives of indigenous peoples, in order to share information on progress, experiences, lessons learned, and challenges in the implementation of the ADRIP."

If this process was established, Indigenous peoples would have a forum in which to address the issues they felt were both pressing, and necessary to be addressed, based on the rights enumerated in the ADRIP.


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